Bellevue authorizes medical marijuana gardens
The state's fifth largest city has sat on the sidelines of the medical marijuana issue even as state law last year kicked regulation to municipalities. But on Monday, Bellevue finally weighed in by authorizing medical marijuana "collective gardens" on an interim basis in some parts of the city.
From a Bellevue city news release:
The zoning ordinance -- which only allows the gardens in areas zoned light industrial, general commercial and medical institution and prohibits them within 1,000 feet of schools and churches -- gives the city six months to gather public input and consider whether any city codes need to be changed.
State law does not allow dispensaries, but most medical marijuana dispensaries operate under a broad legal interpretation of the term "collective garden," which are legal and allow up to 10 patients to collectively grow up to 45 plants. That interpretation has not been formally challenged, although a series of pending criminal charges against dispensary operators in Bellingham may force the issue.
In Seattle, with lightly regulates a booming dispensary industry, storefront medical marijuana outlets have sprouted throughout neighborhoods. Bellevue's ordinance was intended to prevent that, according to the news release.
Additional regulation, including consideration of a zoning ordinance, is in the works in Seattle. Tacoma is considering a broad regulatory scheme. But many cities have taken a zero-tolerance approach despite state law because federal law outlaws marijuana.
Posted by Jonathan Martin