Thursday, May 16, 2013

Seattle City Council Considers New Zoning Laws for Marijuana Operations

Members of the Seattle city council have recently proposed a string of zoning ordinance changes that would hopefully lay the groundwork for how commercial marijuana operations will work in the future. While the city council sees these zoning proposals as positive progress, pot advocates warn that the plan could hurt the economy and send jobs outside of Seattle.

Marijuana lobbyist Phillip Dawdy warns that the city council needs to leave more than 10,000 square feet or people will just go outside of Seattle. This would lead to a loss of hundreds of jobs and the tax revenue that follows.

Seattle city council members want to restrict the pot industry from encroaching on the city's historic districts off limits to the pot industry. In addition, they want to keep a 1,000 foot buffer between pot stores and schools, parks, neighborhoods, libraries, and daycare centers.

Pot advocates believe, however, that the city council shouldn't be wasting their time rewriting zoning laws. Instead, they hoped that the city's leaders would be reaching out to the federal government who continues to threaten medical marijuana businesses in Seattle.

"Informing them that Seattle citizens are tired of these ridiculous laws, and as a city council, you don't want to see legal businesses within the city of Seattle to be underneath threat by the federal government."
                             --Jared Smith, the Responsible Marijuana Project

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Federal Crackdown on Seattle Dispensaries Signals Return of War on Marijuana

The Drug Enforcement Administration has ordered 11 Seattle medical marijuana dispensaries to close their doors and cease operations within 30 days. Even though November's voter approved Initiative 502 legalized marijuana for adults over the age of 21 throughout the State of Washington, the 11 dispensaries received DEA letters because the distribution of marijuana is still illegal under federal law. The letter informed dispensary owners that they had 30 days to cease operations or their properties may be legally seized under federal drug trafficking laws.

At the present moment, it remains unclear why these particular dispensaries were singled out because all owners are fully compliant with state and local laws. One thing is certain, however, these letters signal a return of the war on marijuana.

“These letters suggest that if my clients remain in business, they could lose their companies, their homes, their cars, basically every piece of property that the Feds consider an asset.
---Seattle criminal defense attorney Kurt Boehl

These letters are strikingly similar to letters that were mailed last summer to more than 2 dozen dispensaries in the Seattle community. Last summer's letters referenced federal drug sentencing laws that prohibit the sales of marijuana within 1,000 feet of a school, park, or other type of sensitive location. Yet, neither Washington nor Seattle prohibits dispensaries from operating within 1,000 feet of a school or park and there is currently no federal law governing medical marijuana dispensaries and their proximity to schools.