Kent to consider banning medical marijuana dispensaries; public hearing May 14
By STEVE HUNTER
Kent Reporter Courts, government reporter
May 10, 2012 · 10:44 AM
Residents will get a chance to tell a Kent City Council committee what they think about a proposal to ban medical marijuana dispensaries and collective gardens.
A large turnout is expected at a public hearing at 5:30 p.m. Monday, May 14 in Council Chambers at City Hall before the city's Economic and Community Development Committee. Councilwoman Jamie Perry chairs the committee that also includes council members Bill Boyce and Deborah Ranniger.
The committee is expected to vote after the public hearing about whether to send the proposal to the full council for adoption, possibly at the June 5 council meeting.
"We need to step up and address the issue," Boyce said during a phone interview. "We've passed two moratoriums already. We need to address which way to go for the city."
Kent has at least two medical marijuana businesses operating as collective gardens. The businesses are Evergreen Association of Collective Gardens and Herbal Choice Caregivers. The owners of the two facilities could not be reached for comment.
The council voted 4-3 Jan. 2 on a new six-month moratorium to ban medical marijuana dispensaries after passing a similar measure in July. The second, six-month moratorium expires July 11.
"I don't want to wait until the last minute," Boyce said. "We need to get this on the table and move on."
Boyce joined council members Les Thomas and Dana Ralph in a 3-0 vote April 23 on the Public Safety Committee to recommend "the (Economic and Community Development) committee pass an ordinance banning medical marijuana dispensaries and collective gardens from the city of Kent."
"Right now I favor the ban," Boyce said. "But I will approach it with an open mind."
Philip Dawdy, part of the state lobby the last couple of years for medical marijuana legislation, said in a phone interview that the city is taking the wrong approach and would be only the second city in the state to adopt an outright ban. Naches in Yakima County is the only city he knows about that passed an outright ban as opposed to a moratorium.
"If they pass a ban it'll end up in court," said Dawdy, who has kept a close watch on medical marijuana legislation in Kent and other cities. "I'm frustrated they're taking this in this direction. I'll either show up and tell them it's against the law or submit written testimony."
Dawdy said collective gardens are allowed under state law and that's what the two medical marijuana businesses in Kent are operating under. He said
Dawdy expects the two Kent collective gardens would sue the city if it passes an outright ban.
Boyce said he leans toward the ban because federal law prohibits the use of marijuana, even though state law allows medical marijuana use.
"The state doesn't overrule the federal," he said. "I've been a public official for about 17 years and the law is the law."
Boyce is serving his first year on council but has been on the Kent School Board for 17 years.
Several cities allow medical marijuana dispensaries, including Seattle.
"Some cities are doing it but they're breaking the law," Boyce said.
The council tried to adopt zoning laws in January to allow medical marijuana collective gardens but the measure failed 4-3 with Boyce, Ralph, Thomas and Ranniger voting no. Elizabeth Albertson, Perry and Council President Dennis Higgins voted in favor of zoning ordinance for medical marijuana collective gardens.
A similar proposal failed on a 3-3 vote in December.Contact Kent Reporter Courts, government reporter Steve Hunter at email@example.com or 253-872-6600, ext. 5052.