Days after Gov. Chris Gregoire vetoed key parts of the bill that aimed to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries, the Auburn City Council on Monday gave itself a year to assess what having dispensaries here would mean.
During the time the one-year moratorium is in place on acceptance of applications for licensing, permitting and approval for medical marijuana dispensaries, the City Council expects to assess the zoning implications, the impact on citizens and set a public hearing.
“Zoning concerns have to be addressed so you don’t put these dispensaries in inappropriate locations by schools or parks,” City Attorney Dan Heid recently told the Auburn Reporter.
The unanimous followed an hour-long executive session.
“We’ve been advised that the governor (shown left) will be striking certain portions of the state bill,” Heid said, “but from the information we’ve been able to discern, it may still keep language in there indicating local zoning regulations, even though there may be licensor issues that will be in question.”
In 1998, 59 percent of Washington voters approved an initiative to legalize medical marijuana.
On April 21, the Senate and House passed Senate Bill 5073, which would establish a regulatory system for medical marijuana dispensaries and growers and provide protection from criminal prosecution for patients.
The bill passed through the House with a 54-43 vote and through the Senate with a 29-20 majority. Locally, 31st District Sen. Pam Roach (R-Auburn) and Rep. Cathy Dahlquist (R-Enumclaw) voted against the bill, with Rep. Christopher Hurst (D-Enumclaw) voting yes. In the 47th District, Sen. Joe Fain (R-Auburn) and Rep. Pat Sullivan (D-Covington) voted to pass the bill and Rep. Mark Hargrove (R-Covington) voting no.
Gregoire said she could not approve a measure that could put state workers at risk of federal criminal charges.
“If I have my state employees intimately involved in a commercialization of growing operations, they could be subject to being called before the court as criminal defendants,” Gregoire told the Associated Press. “I will not put state employees in that position.”