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Law

Some Washington cities looking to nip pot dispensaries in the bud

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Andrei Pungovschi
/
AP
Dale Rogers displays different types of marijuana available at the Compassion in Action Patient Network, an organization that distributes medical marijuana to qualifying patients in June 2007 in Seattle. Rogers has been diagnosed with AIDS about 20 years.

You can't walk into a store and legally buy marijuana in Washington for medical or any other purposes. Yet. But some cities in the state - anticipating that you soon might be able to - have placed a moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries and another is considering one. And the shops aren't even lawful. Yet.

A bill being considered in Olympia would allow business licenses for medical marijuana growers, processors and dispensaries, and it would provide for oversight by the state's Department of Health. The measure also would require dispensaries to be nonprofits.

Several towns already have moratoriums

In January, Edmonds voted to place a moratorium on pot shops and both Redmond and Kent recently denied new business licenses to proposed dispensaries, although Kent is not interfering with several existing ones, pending the outcome of the proposed law.

Last fall, Tacoma decided to wait until the end of the current legislative session to take action against eight dispensaries whose licenses had been revoked.

Enter Port Orchard

Now, Port Orchard is looking to head off pot shops before they get started. Police Chief Al Townsend told that town's city council that it's only a matter of time before someone applies for a license.

The Kitsap Sun's Chris Henry writes that in Belfair, Mason County officials have issued a business license to Mari Meds, a dispensary with nearly 1,000 patients. The Mason County Sheriff's Office will only investigate if there is a "probable violation of the law."

Co-owner Lori A. Kent told the Port Orchard City Council she and her partner are simply trying to provide a safe, ethical way for patients to obtain medication that can dramatically improve their quality of life. She asked city officials to look beyond stereotypes:

"I would like to take the Cheech and Chong thinking out of marijuana," she said. "It's not just a smoking party with a big fat joint and a bong anymore."

Here's a link to some frequently asked questions about Washington's current medical marijuana law from the state Department of Health.

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