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Normandy Park City Council Places Hold On Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

by Ralph Nichols [1]

Even as the Legislature continues to consider a bill that would allow medical marijuana dispensaries to do business in the state, a six-month city moratorium has been imposed on locating such a dispensary in Normandy Park.

The moratorium, which recently was approved unanimously by the city council, prohibits “the licensing, establishment, maintenance or continuation of … the sale of medical marijuana” in Normandy Park, and refers the issue to the Planning Board for review and recommendation.

“I think all of us support medical marijuana and the good it does those patients” who it helps, said Councilman Shawn McEvoy. “But we want to do so in a safe manner, in a way that protects public safety.

“There have been incidences of robberies and burglaries of medical marijuana dispensaries elsewhere, and we don’t want to jeopardize our citizens.”

Councilwoman Marion Yoshino added that permission for such a business to operate in Normandy Park “should be a community decision. It’s a really controversial topic. I hope the public weighs in on their feelings.”

The ordinance adopting this moratorium provides for a public hearing on the question, which will be scheduled at a later date.

Neither McEvoy nor Yoshino know of any permit application to the city at this time for a medical marijuana dispensary that would be located in Normandy Park.

But McEvoy said he understands that one person has expressed an interest to city staff in opening such a business there.

The city moratorium, which puts things on hold “for a maximum of six months, will give us time to sort it out,” he continued. “In the meantime, we will be interested to see how that state Legislature deals with this issue.”

Senate Bill 5073, which defines and clarifies the processes for prescribing, selling and using medical marijuana, was approved earlier by the Senate on a 29-20 vote. It now awaits a committee hearing in the House of Representatives.

Introduced by Seattle Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, SB 5073 [2] was supported by Sen. Sharon Nelson, D-Vashon, and Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Des Moines.

The legislation would protect patients approved to use medical marijuana and persons certified to grow and sell it from arrest, prosecution, and criminal or civil penalties, and would assure that those patients would have an adequate, safe and consistent supply for their individual use.

Burien City Manager Mike Martin said he knows of no proposal for a medical marijuana dispensary in Burien.

“We would abide by any existing law, obviously, and we would be concerned about any establishment like that just because of its nature,” Martin said. “It’s important to us that the community feels good about any business that moves into the area.”

Burien will also “keep our eyes on the Legislature, on this debate,” he noted.

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