Pubdate: Fri, 25 Mar 2011
Source: Federal Way Mirror (WA)
Copyright: 2011 Sound Publishing
Author: Andy Hobbs, Federal Way Mirror Editor


Earlier this month, I strolled along Dumas Bay in search of Federal
Way's foulest odor and came up short.

Seaweed accumulates each summer on the beach and in the water. The
slimy green stuff piles up and emits that classic rotten egg scent as
it bakes in the sun. Last year, the city secured a grant to monitor
the seaweed and research its growth. Stay tuned for a report this
summer when the seaweed arrives in full force.

On that recent day at Dumas Bay, I sniffed away at the beach's briny
breeze as my boots crunched broken shells and sloshed through the mud.
Aside from Dumas Bay in the summer and the pungent flowers that bloom
outside City Hall, Federal Way lacks a truly stinky spot -- and that,
dear reader, is a blessing.

Consider that in neighboring Tacoma, the first impression of that city
for thousands of people is the so-called "Aroma of Tacoma." On warmer
days, drivers along Interstate 5 encounter a smell that sometimes
resembles frozen vegetables in a dirty diaper. For a deeper whiff,
drive around the tideflats and the Port of Tacoma.

In Federal Way, most complaints about stenches seem to be
metaphorical: the traffic cameras stink, the city's code enforcement
stinks, the hooker hotels on Pacific Highway South stink, etc.

And for some city leaders and residents, medical marijuana
dispensaries stink.

During an appeal hearing this week regarding a rejected business
license for a medical marijuana dispensary, a veteran Federal Way
police officer testified that he could smell marijuana when delivering
a letter to Conscious Care Cooperative.

"In my experience as a police officer," he told the hearing examiner,
"I'm familiar with what marijuana smells like." The officer said he
smelled a "green marijuana smell" rather than the smell of burning
marijuana. It should be noted that patients cannot consume or burn
medical marijuana at the dispensary.

State lawmakers are working on clarifying the legal gray areas
surrounding dispensaries and the people who use them. In a news
release this week, King County Prosector Dan Satterberg cited the
recent armed robbery at a West Seattle dispensary as proof that
legislators need to establish clear guidelines for medical marijuana,
including regulations for security to protect both patients and
neighborhoods from criminal violence.

Like it or not, the issue of marijuana -- for medicinal and
recreational purposes -- has reached a tipping point in the state.
Legitimate patients need a safe place to get their medicine, and
dispensaries fill that void, even as some misfits treat the
dispensaries like speakeasies. As society moves into uncharted
territory with marijuana, there is a tendency to fear the worst, even
as the stigma surrounding cannabis slowly erodes.

When it comes to Federal Way's marijuana dispensaries, the part that
truly stinks is the ignorance surrounding the turning tide.
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MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.