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City of Seattle

April 23, 1:21 PM click here to comment > 2

Letter in support of medical marijuana bill

Earlier this week Mayor Mike McGinn joined City Attorney Peter Holmes, Council President Richard Conlin and all eight other Councilmembers to sign a letter to the Washington State Senate urging them to adopt SB 5073, the medical marijuana bill. On Thursday the State Senate passed the bill, which is now awaiting Governor Chris Gregoire’s signature.

The full text of the letter is below. You can view the letter and the signatures in PDF form here.

Dear Honorable Members of the Washington State Senate:

As Seattle’s elected Mayor, Councilmembers, and City Attorney, we stand together urging you to concur with the House amendments to SB 5073 and to send the bill to Governor Gregoire.

Medical marijuana has been permitted under Washington state law for more than a decade, but there has never been clarity regarding how medical marijuana is to be produced, processed, and distributed. As a local government, we deal firsthand with the problems this lack of clarity in the law has led to: confusion for law enforcement personnel, a proliferation of dispensaries across the City (at last count we had over 30 in Seattle), an inability to regulate and site them properly, and uncertainty for patients and their doctors about how to act within the confines of the law. In short, the entire system operates in a legal gray zone that serves nobody’s interests except those who would exploit the system.

SB 5073, although not perfect, will put in place a comprehensive, consistent, coherent, and rational medical marijuana regulatory system. It spells out precisely how dispensaries and production facilities can operate in a way that provides legitimate patients with medical marijuana, gives local governments the tools we need to help protect the health and safety of our communities, and provides much-needed clarity for law enforcement.

In addition, we view the recent letter from the United States Attorneys as a simple restatement of the Department of Justice’s longstanding approach to medical marijuana. As a practical matter, we can look to the fifteen other states where medical marijuana is legal and the six states that have clear dispensary laws. The federal government has never prosecuted a state employee engaged in the implementation or regulation of one of these state laws. Indeed, city and state employees have already been involved with regulating dispensaries even in their current amorphous state–city police officers sometimes visit dispensaries to address neighbor complaints or monitor potential public safety issues, city licensing authorities issue business licenses to dispensaries, and the state Department of Revenue collects sales tax from some dispensaries. We have heard no federal criticism of these regulatory activities and certainly have not received any threats of prosecution.

The question we face is not whether or not we are going to have medical marijuana use in Washington State. The voters already decided that question more than a decade ago. The question we face is whether or not we will have a thoughtful and rational regulatory framework for the production, processing, and distribution of medical marijuana. In its current form SB 5073 provides much needed clarity to this important issue and we urge you to adopt it and send it to the Governor.


Michael Patrick McGinn, Mayor of Seattle
Pete Holmes, Seattle City Attorney
Richard Conlin, President, Seattle City Council
Councilmember Sally Bagshaw, Seattle City Council
Councilmember Tim Burgess, Seattle City Council
Councilmember Sally Clark, Seattle City Council
Councilmember Jean Godden, Seattle City Council
Councilmember Bruce Harrell, Seattle City Council
Councilmember Nick Licata, Seattle City Council
Councilmember Mike O’Brien, Seattle City Council
Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, Seattle City Council

Posted by: Robert Cruickshank


Comment from Rebecca Dias
Time May 2, 2011 at 2:56 pm

The best way to stop crimes related to drugs is to bring them above ground and to regulate the supply chain.

Marijuana has proven to help users with medical issues especially related to pain management. I have heard of numerous success stories of people abandoning pharmaceutical narcotics for marijuana. I’m glad this discussion is about regulation and not the need to continue to allow dispensaries.

Regulation makes users feel safe and is the best model to reduce crime. Get the sketchy folks out of the business and legitimize the processes.

Dispensaries should source locally. Beyond the benefits of medical use, I feel that the concept of the dispensary should reduce illegal drug trafficking. With proper the state gains the right tax benefit as well. We could use the money to get bike lanes and public transportation improvements.

Medical Marijuana makes sense for everyone. Regulation makes it safer.

Comment from V Saxena
Time June 25, 2012 at 2:35 pm

Sighs. It’s mid 2012 and yet nothing has changed. I agree entirely with Rebecca regarding regulation. Many smokers must inevitably deal with shady ‘street’ types to secure their marijuana, which is extremely risky.

By legalizing marijuana, everything will have to be done out in the open. The shady types will either give up their ‘profession’ or learn how to do it legally — a process in which they’ll be forced to reckon with strict regulations.