Lake Stevens Journal - Your hometown newspaper since 1960


By Pam Stevens
Managing Editor 

City council votes for moratorium on collective gardens


July 17, 2012

In a unanimous vote on Monday, July 2, the Lake Stevens city council chose to pass a six-month moratorium banning collective gardens in Lake Stevens.

According to the State Legislature’s website, “the creation of a “collective garden” means qualifying patients sharing responsibility for acquiring and supplying the resources required to produce and process cannabis (marijuana) for medical use such as, for example, a location for a collective garden; equipment, supplies, and labor necessary to plant, grow, and harvest cannabis; cannabis plants, seeds, and cuttings; and equipment, supplies, and labor necessary for proper construction, plumbing, wiring, and ventilation of a garden of cannabis plants.”

“Six months is a typical time that you pass a moratorium,” Lake Stevens Planning Director Becky Ableman said. “One of the things that council wanted to see was what was going to happen in the legislature this fall regarding collective gardens. It could affect how the city might write their regulations if that were to pass.”

Lake Stevens has been watching nearby cities to see what they might be doing when it comes to these gardens. However, they do want to make it clear that even if collective gardens did pass within the city limits, that doesn’t mean marijuana can be sold.

“You still couldn’t sell it, you may be able to collect with others who have prescriptions and grow it together,” Ableman explained. “Some cities have a required amount of separation between gardens. We are continuing to do research and be advised by our attorney and refining the draft regulations we have in case the council wants to move forward.”

Snohomish County has looked into the selling of marijuana but has decided to follow federal law.

“Selling marijuana is illegal. It is a federal offense. That really is the bottom line,” Councilman Dave Somers said. “Last year, the Legislature gave us (counties) the ‘authority’ to establish zoning restrictions and to impose a one year moratorium on approving dispensaries. Our counsel was that it makes no sense to put a moratorium on something that is illegal already.”

Somers went on to explain the difficulty of having one law in the county when the federal government has a different law which would supersede it.

“It also makes no sense to establish zoning restrictions on an activity that is illegal. To establish such restrictions implies it is OK in some places and not in others. Federal law is clear that it is an illegal activity. It would be more than a little nonsensical for example to say selling cocaine is illegal, a federal offense, but you can do it here but not there. Under federal law, there is no difference at this time between cocaine and marijuana,” Somers said. “Establishing a one year moratorium also implies that at the end of the year, the moratorium is lifted and the activity is allowed. Again, selling marijuana for any purpose whether you agree with it or not, is an illegal activity.”

Both marijuana and cocaine are considered Schedule one drugs which can not be distributed or sold at pharmacies.

Pharmacist Monique Woo-Lewis from Bartell Drugs in Lake Stevens explained what that means.

“Schedule one includes drugs like cocaine, heroine or drugs being studied or researched,” she said. “Drugs are listed from schedule one to schedule five depending upon how addictive the drug is. One can become highly dependent and they become less addictive as the number goes up. For example Oxytocin is a two.”

The Office of Diversion Control, U.S. Dept. of Justice, Drug Enforcement Agency explains it like this: Substances in this schedule (one) have a high potential for abuse, have no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and there is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision.

Some examples of substances listed in schedule one are: heroin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), marijuana (cannabis), peyote, methaqualone, and 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (“ecstasy”).

Lake Stevens city council will be looking at their law whether to ban collective gardens at the first of the new year.


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