The city of Seattle will regulate medical marijuana shops like any other business under a law signed Wednesday by Mayor Mike McGinn.
The ordinance, which unanimously passed the city council this month, requires that medical marijuana operations be licensed, pay taxes and fees, obtain food-handling permits if they sell marijuana cookies, and follow all other regulations such as land-use codes.
“This ordinance gives us more tools to protect public safety while ensuring businesses are good neighbors in their communities,” McGinn said in a statement. “This will help us work toward a more rational and sensible way of regulating marijuana use, instead of continuing an irrational policy of prohibition that just doesn’t work.”
The approach contrasts with several other cities in Washington that are taking steps to impose moratoriums on such operations.
Medical marijuana regulations in the state have been uncertain since Gov. Chris Gregoire vetoed much of a bill that would have created a system of licensed medical marijuana dispensaries. She left in sections allowing collective medical marijuana operations.
Many in the medical marijuana community have praised Seattle’s new law, saying that at least the city is doing something to rebel against federal and state laws prohibiting cannabis.
But one medical marijuana attorney, Douglas Hiatt, has threatened a lawsuit to block it. The city does not have the authority to regulate an illegal substance, he argued, and forcing the operations to obtain a business license essentially forces them to acknowledge they’re breaking the law.
McGinn said he will continue working with state lawmakers and the governor to support a bill to provide greater clarity and legal protections for qualified medical marijuana users and providers.
The mayor’s office will also work with the City Council and the planning officials to develop zoning regulations for medical cannabis facilities.
The law takes effect in 30 days.
– Article originally from The Seattle Times.