Pubdate: Wed, 10 Aug 2011
Source: Bellingham Herald (WA)
Copyright: 2011 Bellingham Herald
Author: Christian Hill, Staff Writer


The City of Lakewood won't change its stance on medical marijuana,
despite a recent change in state law that allows cities to regulate

Under the law approved this year, cities can license, set health and
safety rules, and tax so-called "collective gardens" that allow groups
of patients to grow and distribute cannabis for their sole medical

Other cities have acted to regulate or ban these operations. The
Tacoma City Council voted to ban them last week, though it has no
immediate plans to shut down the dozens of dispensaries already in

Lakewood officials say there are no licensed dispensaries operating in
their city.

City Attorney Heidi Wachter said the gardens are illegal in Lakewood
because the federal prohibition on medical marijuana trumps state law,
and the city prohibits the licensing of illegal activities.

Wachter recommended the council stand pat as she expects state
lawmakers to continue making changes to reconcile the conflict in
state and federal law.

"We believe this is the safest and most defensible course," she

Lakewood's Public Safety Advisory Committee also recommended the
council take no action. Bryan Thomas, a committee member, said the
group had concerns about people locating collective gardens near
daycare centers and schools. They also could pop up in vacant houses,
increasing the risk of crime and fire, he said.

"If we rush to put in an ordinance or make some law that the
Legislature changes, then we have to go back and redo everything,"
Thomas said. "I think everybody's right, and we haven't seen the last
of the changes that are going to come."

Council members agreed with the recommendations during a study session
Monday night. Mayor Doug Richardson called the current state law a
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