Mukilteo may allow medical marijuana permanently

MUKILTEO — Within a few weeks, it might be permanently legal to grow marijuana for medicinal purposes in Mukilteo.

City officials are considering removing the temporary label from a law first passed last August allowing medicinal cannabis gardens in the city.

A public hearing and possible decision by the council are scheduled for as early as May 7.

A state law approved last year allows qualified patients to create community gardens for growing medicinal marijuana.

“I believe that what we’re trying to do is support state law,” City Councilman Randy Lord said. “If we don’t do something like this, they can go wherever they want. As far as medicinal gardens are concerned, I look at it as a zoning issue.”

Mukilteo’s ordinance allows the gardens in areas zoned for light industry. They may not be within 1,000 feet of each other or a school, park, daycare operation or community center such as the YMCA or Boys &Girls Club.

Under state law, up to 10 patients can create a collective garden and harvest up to 45 plants and 4.5 pounds of usable cannabis. Dispensaries remain illegal in the state.

Many cities in Snohomish County have placed temporary bans on the gardens. Other local governments such as Snohomish County and the city of Everett have stayed silent on the issue, deferring to state law.

Mukilteo officials considered their ordinance an experiment, which is why it was approved only on a temporary basis. City officials are aware of two indoor cooperative gardens currently operating in the city that do not meet the requirements of the ordinance – one in an industrial park and another in a strip mall. They’ve been grandfathered in and will not be closed down, officials have said.

“We’ve had some interest from (other) people interested in establishing a garden, but none of them got beyond the talking stage,” senior planner Glen Pickus said.

The city approved its ordinance for a second time in January, keeping it temporary to see if the Legislature would take action. That didn’t happen.

This fall, voters in the state will be faced with Initiative 502, which would legalize marijuana outright. Still, Mukilteo city officials say the time is right to go ahead and commit to their ordinance.

If I-502 passes, then the city would adjust its ordinance accordingly, potentially allowing the collectives to apply for business licenses, Lord said.

“I’d love to see the feds and state sort out what the law is,” he said. “As it is, it’s very convoluted.”

Bill Sheets: 425-339-3439; sheets@heraldnet.com.

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