Pubdate: Fri, 17 Feb 2012
Source: Whidbey Examiner (WA)
Copyright: 2012 Whidbey Examiner
Author: Betty Freeman


"It's not a question of should there be a medical marijuana law, or 
who supports it, but how we follow the current law here," Langley 
Mayor Larry Kwarsick said at a Langley City Council workshop last week.

About 80 people, including the full city council and Langley Police 
Chief Randy Heston, gathered to talk about whether the council should 
approve Lucas Jushinski's business-license application for a medical 
marijuana "access point" in Langley.

City Planner Jeff Arango offered a PowerPoint overview of the state 
law that he said leaves "regulation of access points open to a wide 
variety of opinions and approaches in communities."

Washington is among 16 states and the District of Columbia that have 
legalized the medical use of marijuana.

In Washington's medical cannabis law (RCW 69.51) of 1998, the state 
Legislature included a section that gives counties, cities and towns 
authority to adopt and enforce zoning, business licensing, health and 
safety and business tax requirements for licensed dispensers.

That's why the Langley City Council can make its own decision to 
accept or reject Jushinski's business.

The 35-year-old Iraq War veteran patiently outlined his comprehensive 
business plan to open a discrete operation that will give qualified 
patients "access to safe, legal medical cannabis."

Jushinski proposes to open his non-profit business, Island 
Alternative Medicine, at 630 Second St., behind the Living Green 
health-food store and the All Washed-Up Laundromat. Jushinski said 
signage would be limited to "a small wooden sign with Buddha's hand. 
There will be no pot images visible."

Jushinski explained that access points are not really open to the 
general public and patients are not allowed beyond the reception area 
without photo ID and a medical cannabis authorization statement on 
tamper-proof paper issued by a health care professional. A 
receptionist must verify the patient's medical marijuana card holding 
status and also the health care professional's credentials.

Jushinki further explained that cannabis products would be kept 
behind a closed door, separated from the waiting area. Only one 
patient at a time will be allowed into the medication room. Patients 
can choose from strains specific to their particular condition, and 
will make a "donation" for the product. Use of medication on the 
premises will be prohibited.

Cannabis offered at Island Alternative Medicine will have been tested 
by a Seattle laboratory for purity and active chemical levels, and 
will be certified "organic and safe," Jushinski said.

He plans to work cooperatively with local, legal cannabis growers to 
provide the medical marijuana he will offer.

"In policing myself, I've set the bar high," he said. "What I'm 
proposing will be a clean, respectable and professional operation for 
delivery of safe medical cannabis to the people who need it. I want 
to show the community that I deserve to be here and also show respect 
for the community for allowing me to be here."

Though this was not a public forum, Jushinski got a round of applause 
from the audience as he finished his presentation. Some in the 
audience suffer from painful health conditions that might be helped 
with medical cannabis, such as cancer. Others appeared to be there 
simply to support Jushinski's efforts to bring this business to Langley.

Currently, there are no legal medical cannabis dispensaries on 
Whidbey Island. The nearest access point is in Mukilteo, in an 
industrial area on the Mukilteo Speedway.

Langley doesn't have an industrial area, nor does its tiny footprint 
provide the same 1,000-foot separation from public areas that other 
cities have mandated for dispensaries.

Some Washington municipalities have called a moratorium on approving 
medical cannabis dispensaries, while others have regulated such 
businesses under standard municipal codes.

Jushinski has employed a business and a criminal attorney to assist 
him in presenting a plan that defines what Langley would be 
authorizing in granting him a business license.

His business attorney, Hilary Bricken, urged the city council to 
develop rules that address this type of business.

"Sensible regulation should be on the table here," she said. "It's 
easier and less costly to regulate sensibly now than to engage in 
litigation later."

Langley is still about a month away from finalizing the hiring of a 
new city attorney, and council member Rene Neff felt the council 
should wait for the new attorney's advice about how to regulate the 
proposed business. Though there was no formal motion, the council 
appeared to agree to postpone a final decision until after their new 
attorney had been consulted.

Jushinski asked the council not to drag its feet on approving his application.

"Every day you delay [this decision] is another day of suffering for 
a local person with a terminal or debilitating medical condition that 
medical cannabis can ease," he said.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom