Pubdate: Tue, 16 Aug 2011
Source: Arlington Times (WA)
Copyright: 2011 Sound Publishing, Inc.
Author: Kirk Boxleitner, Arlington Times Reporter 


ARLINGTON -- One month after the Marysville City Council voted
unanimously to impose a six-month moratorium on the establishment,
licensing or permitting of medical marijuana dispensaries or
collective gardens, the Arlington City Council did the same.

The Arlington City Council's unanimous vote in favor of their
moratorium during their Aug. 15 meeting followed a discussion on the
issue during their Aug. 8 workshop. Arlington Police Chief Nelson
Beazley not only acknowledged that Arlington's moratorium was inspired
by those of "sister cities" such as Marysville, but assured the
Council that he would be working with Marysville and its fellow cities
to ensure that Arlington's zoning of medical marijuana dispensaries
and collective gardens is consistent with those of other

Although discussion was virtually nonexistent at the Aug. 15 meeting,
the Aug. 8 workshop saw Beazley and a number of Council members
voicing agreement on the urgency of such a moratorium to ensure that
collective gardens don't move in next to schools or child care areas.
As of July 22, legislation signed by Gov. Christine Gregoire
effectively makes medical marijuana dispensaries illegal under state
law, but also allows cities to regulate collective gardens. According
to Beazley, future legislation could change the legal status of
medical marijuana dispensaries.

"This gives us time to do it right," Beazley said. "There's so much
word-smithing required that we need to establish a process so that
people's legal needs are met without others taking advantage."

At the Aug. 8 workshop, Council member Chris Raezer echoed concerns
expressed by his fellow Council members and Beazley about the
importance of regulating and allowing access to the legal use of
medical marijuana, while at the same time keeping it out of the hands
of kids or illegal growers. When Raezer admitted to being frustrated
over the legislation's lack of clarity, Beazley noted that the state
Legislature was likely to take the issue up again in its next session,
but added that some confusion is inevitable with issues where state
and federal laws can come into conflict.

Arlington City Attorney Steve Peiffle is confident that the city can
develop appropriate land use regulations within the six months before
the moratorium sunsets, a window of time which Council member Marilyn
Oertle advocated for during the Aug. 8 workshop.

"We need this time to map out all the ins and outs," said Oertle, who
rejected the "wait and see" approach that Beazley reported some cities
have adopted in response to this issue. "Without this moratorium,
anything could happen in the meantime."

"This needs to be written so tight that there won't be any loopholes
that can be worked around," Council member Dick Butner said.

Council member Linda Byrnes likewise deemed it "such a confusing issue
that I wouldn't object to being overly informed" before setting any
policy. At the same time, she called for the Council to treat this
issue as they would any other.

"We need to serve the best interests of the entire community, not just
any one group within it," Beazley said at the Aug. 8 workshop.

Lake Stevens resident Marcus Cravens attended both the Aug. 8 workshop
and the Aug. 15 meeting to share his insights and experiences with
legal medical marijuana with the Arlington City Council, but he was
not afforded an opportunity to speak on the subject at either time.

"There wasn't any period for public comment last week, but I was told
that I'd be able to comment this week," Cravens said, after exiting
the Aug. 15 meeting in the wake of the Council's vote. "Mukilteo was
able to draft its regulations within two weeks. We have patients in
this area who have already been using medicinal marijuana for 13
years. What happens to the patients who are too sick to grow their own
or drive to where they can get it? People will be forced to turn to
the black market or questionable delivery services. I came here
because I didn't want to see those patients get screwed."
- ---
MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.