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Seattle council votes to regulate medical marijuana

"Good Lord, how did we get here ..."

Seattle has become the first city in Washington to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries. A number of other cities have banned the businesses outright.  The Seattle City Council decided to take the opposite approach after efforts to regulate medical pot at the state level failed.

Even Seattle City Councilwoman Sally Clark, who spoke on behalf of the medical marijuana ordinance,acknowledged the city was sailing into uncharted waters.

“I don’t even know where to begin. Good Lord, how did we get here,” Clark said in opening remarks.

The problem the city faces is the federal government considers the sale and use of medical marijuana illegal while voters in Washington have voted to legalize medical pot.  But Governor Chris Gregoire vetoed portions of a law that would have put a regulatory framework in place for dispensaries.

Clark says that's why the city is stepping in.

“The upshot is they are here and we should regulate them. They are in the neighborhoods. They are doing business in some fashion," Clark said.

 Just like any other business, medical cannabis suppliers will have to comply with, among other things, the city's Chronic Nuisance Property laws, the American with Disabilities Act and noise and anti smoking laws.

In the next few weeks, the Council also plans to come up with zoning regulations that would establish where the businesses could locate. The Council could face a lawsuit over the new ordinance.  One attorney has threatened to sue on grounds the city can’t regulate businesses whose legal existence is in question.

Paula is a former host, reporter and producer who retired from KNKX in 2021. She joined the station in 1989 as All Things Considered host and covered the Law and Justice beat for 15 years. Paula grew up in Idaho and, prior to KNKX, worked in public radio and television in Boise, San Francisco and upstate New York.