Mayor Introduces Legislation to Create New Licenses for Marijuana Businesses

Mayor Ed Murray today unveiled new legislation for the marijuana industry. The proposal addresses the rise of the unregulated medical marijuana dispensaries and creates a path for dispensaries to join the fully licensed and legal marketplace.

“We’re strengthening the recreational marijuana market and creating safer, more consistent access for those who rely on medicinal products,” said Murray. “Medical marijuana patients live with debilitating and frequently life threatening conditions, that’s why it’s so important to bring medical dispensaries into the fold by July 2016. This will expand the legal market and ensure that products are sold with the best medical and state retail standards.”

Since the passage of Initiative 502 in 2012, Seattle has seen the number of unregulated medical marijuana establishments double to nearly 100.

The State Legislature recently addressed the legal questions surrounding services and products being sold. The Mayor’s proposal allows the City to follow state regulations more closely by granting a new regulatory license to existing Initiative 502 businesses. The proposal also creates a path forward for medical marijuana dispensaries to follow enforcement guidelines and continue operations until they are able to receive state licenses in 2016.

“I am committed to work with the Mayor and his executive departments to implement these proposals using civil remedies and regulatory enforcement rather than criminal law enforcement wherever possible,” said City Attorney Pete Holmes. “I support using whatever tools are necessary to get the job done, but I hope and believe that civil regulatory enforcement will be most effective in bringing all Seattle marijuana producers, processors, and retailers into I-502’s system by July 2016, and in most cases well before then.”

The proposal establishes a tiered enforcement plan that favors civil action over criminal prosecution. The enforcement plan prioritizes the prevention of sales to people under the age of 21 and non-qualifying patients, and bans marketing products that appeal to children.

“This legislation will help secure safe, consistent quality medical marijuana for patients,” said Councilmember Nick Licata. “It moves us toward an enforceable and fair regulated delivery system for both medical and recreational marijuana.”

Currently, medical marijuana dispensaries operate entirely outside of regulation. Under this proposed framework, the regulation of marijuana dispensaries will no longer be dependent on law enforcement alone. Many of these new policies will help normalize the marijuana industry as it joins mainstream businesses already operating in the City of Seattle.

“The C.C.S.E. and the C.P.C. have focused on standards and ethics in the Cannabis industry since their inceptions,” said Jeremy Kaufman, founder of the Center of Palliative Care and chairperson of the Coalition for Cannabis Standards and Ethics. “Our organizations have always advocated for patients to have access to quality dispensaries and we want operators to conduct business without fear of criminal prosecution. Medical cannabis is undergoing a transition in Washington that will clarify its status.  Creating clarity is a complex process and this transition for medical cannabis is the next step in that process for Seattle and our local Cannabis industry.”

“As a licensed retailer opening a recreational store in Seattle I applaud the City of Seattle for moving forward on important legislation that will allow responsible adults to use marijuana recreationally and ensure that medical patients have access to quality-controlled products, while protecting public safety and our quality of life,” said John Branch, a member of the Washington Cannabusiness Association and owner of Ponder, opening at 24th and Union.

The proposal will be transmitted to City Council in June. More information is available on the FAQ page and Proposal Summary page.  

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Mayor Murray statement on Irish marriage equality

Mayor Ed Murray issued the following statement after Ireland became the first nation in the world to recognize marriage equality by popular vote:

“Congratulations to the people of Ireland. When I visited Ireland last year, I could feel an incredible energy behind the marriage equality movement. To my friends, Irish Senators David Norris and Katherine Zappone, thank you for your courageous leadership. That same energy and hopefulness we have seen in Ireland is rising across America and around the world. In the end, for the Irish and Irish Americans, it is all about family. All families deserve to be treated equally. I have never been so proud to be Irish.”

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Mayor Murray and Chief O’Toole announce Safe Place program

SPD_SAFE_PLACEMayor Murray and Chief of Police Kathleen O’Toole announced SPD Safe Place, a public education and visibility campaign aimed at preventing and responding to anti-LGBT bias crimes.

“Seattle welcomes all people,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “There is no place for bigotry or harassment in our city. We developed Safe Place so that businesses and community organizations can visibly stand up against intolerance and provide shelter to victims.”

SPD Safe Place is a voluntary program that provides businesses and organizations with decals and information on how to report malicious harassment, more commonly known as hate crimes. Training for these organizations includes when and how to call 911, sheltering victims of crime until police arrive and proactive outreach about working with the SPD’s LGBT liaison officer.

“Seattle Police officers work every day with the diverse communities of Seattle to ensure safety. SPD Safe Place is another way of connecting and educating those who live, work and visit Seattle about how the SPD can assist in times of crisis,” said Chief Kathleen O’Toole.

Businesses, organizations and educational institutions can request SPD Safe Place placards or posters and learn about how to work with police to prevent and address anti-LGBT crime concerns at www.seattle.gov/spd-safe-place.

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Paid parental leave starts this week for city employees

Mayor Ed Murray announced that, starting May 17th, the Paid Parental Leave program has gone into effect for City of Seattle employees.

“The start of paid parental leave for the City’s workforce is another example of how the City of Seattle is leading the way in support of workers. Providing paid leave for working parents allows parents a chance to create and strengthen bonds within their families without forcing them to exhaust all of their vacation and sick time, or unfairly take too much unpaid time off,” said Murray. “Thanks to the City Council, the leadership of Councilmember Godden for her passionate advocacy, and the City’s labor partners for working together to pass this legislation and get it implemented in only a few short months. This is the right thing to do for our public employees, for their families and for the community.”

Qualifying employees who have been with the City for at least six months are now eligible to take four weeks per year of paid parental leave after the birth, adoption, or placement of a new child.

“Today marks one of the most meaningful achievements of my career to date. Paid parental leave is a benefit that will help hundreds, if not thousands of women, men and families in the City of Seattle. I have been working towards this for the last year and will continue my work towards gender equity by improving flexible hour policies and day care incentives,” said Councilmember Jean Godden, Chair, Parks, Seattle Center, Libraries and Gender Pay Equity Committee.

For more information, visit the Paid Parental Leave Program webpage.

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Seahawk Michael Bennett, Mayor Murray celebrate Bike to Work Day

imageToday Seahawk Michael Bennett joined Mayor Ed Murray to celebrate Bike to Work Day by riding along the Lake Washington Ship Canal.

“Seattle is biking to work now more than ever thanks to our investments in biking infrastructure,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “We will do more in our Transportation Levy to Move Seattle to make biking safe and fun for riders of all abilities.”

Bennett famously took a victory lap around Century Link Field on a Seattle Police Department bike after the Seahawks won the NFC Championship game on the road to the Super Bowl last season. SPD again provided Bennett with a bike to use on today’s ride.

“Everybody get outside,” said Bennett. “It’s a great time to get out and ride with your kids, have fun and enjoy the city.”

Bike trips on Seattle’s major bike routes are up 12 percent during the first 4 months of 2015, compared the same period last year. On the 39th Ave NE greenway, which provides a bike friendly corridor through Seattle neighborhoods of Wedgwood and Bryant to the Burke-Gillman trail, bike traffic has increased 40 percent.

Fremont Bridge’s bike counter tallied more than one million riders in 2014. The Pronto! cycle share program now has 50 stations throughout Seattle, and will be adding two new stations this month.

Murray has transmitted his proposed Transportation Levy to Move Seattle to the Seattle City Council, which will consider sending the measure to the voters in November. Move Seattle will implement major pieces of the Bicycle Master Plan, including funding for 170 miles of neighborhood greenways and protected bike lanes over 9 years.

The Seattle Department of Transportation continues to improve bicycle access and mobility enhancements throughout the city. Last year SDOT completed the 1.2 mile Second Avenue protected bike lane now used by more than 1,000 cyclists a day.

This year, SDOT begins construction of the permanent Roosevelt Way protected bike lane and the Westlake cycle track. The department will build a total of 12 miles of neighborhood greenways and seven miles of bike lanes in neighborhoods throughout Seattle in 2015.

Bennett and Murray were joined by Cascade Bicycle Club’s Executive Director Elizabeth Kiker, SDOT staff and Seattle Police officers.

“Biking is such an integral part of Seattle’s culture that Michael even brought it to the NFC Championship Game,” said Kiker. “We’re proud of the city’s commitment to cycling and we look forward to growing it.”

 

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2015 Mayor’s Film Award Recipient: Megan Griffiths

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Today Mayor Ed Murray announced the 2015 recipient of the 10th Annual Mayor’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in Film, Megan Griffiths. The award recognizes an individual or entity for exceptional work that has significantly contributed to the growth, advancement and reputation of Seattle as a filmmaking city.

“Megan’s passion for filming locally and attracting new business and talent has raised the profile of Seattle and the region’s film community,” said Murray. “Her award-winning career in directing and producing speaks for itself. I am pleased to present this award to her, and thank her for championing Seattle as a thriving place to make movies.”

Griffiths has been a director, writer and producer in the Seattle film community for over a decade. Her most recent film Lucky Them was filmed in Seattle and premiered at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival. Her previous film, Eden, was set in the southwest but filmed entirely in Washington. It premiered at the 2012 SXSW Film Festival in Austin where it won the narrative Audience Award and the Emergent Female Director Award.

“I am honored to receive the Mayor’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in Film,” said Griffiths. “I feel very privileged to live in a city where the Mayor and the community celebrate the film industry. Seattle is home to many great craftsmen and women who also happen to be outstanding humans and phenomenal collaborators, and I am proud to be able to call this ‘crewtopia’ my home and base of operations.”

The five Seattle film industry representatives on the Nomination and Selection Committee considered many deserving people before reaching a unanimous decision on the 2015 recipient. Griffiths will receive Silvered Piccolo Venetian with Emerald Handles created by Dale Chihuly. Griffiths will receive the award tonight at Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF)’s Opening Night Gala at the Seattle Center’s McCaw Hall.

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DPD releases draft EIS of 2035 Comprehensive Plan Update

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The Seattle Department of Planning and Development has released for public comment a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the Seattle 2035 Comprehensive Plan Update. This is a major milestone towards an update to the City’s Comprehensive Plan which plots a 20-year vision and roadmap for Seattle’s future growth and livability. The Draft EIS provides detailed information on various growth alternatives, their potential impacts to the environment, and proposed mitigation strategies. The City wants your voice to be heard as we refine strategies for accommodating growth for the benefit of all.

How to provide feedback on the Draft EIS:

  • Visit our online open house to learn about the findings of the Draft EIS and take the online survey
  • Attend the public hearing and open house on May 27, from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. at City Hall in the Bertha Knight Landes Room (600 4th Avenue).
  • Submit comments on the Draft EIS online, via email to 2035@seattle.gov, or in writing to:

City of Seattle, Department of Planning and Development

Attn: Gordon Clowers

700 5th Avenue, Suite 2000

PO Box 34019, Seattle, WA 98124

Comments must be postmarked no later than June 18, 2015.

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Murray statement on recent Port action

Mayor Ed Murray issued the following statement after today’s meeting of the Port of Seattle Commission:

“I commend the Port Commission for deciding that the arrival of an off-shore drilling rig should be delayed until the proper permits are in place. I now hope Shell will respect the wishes of the Port, the City and the community at large, and not bring an off-shore drilling rig into Elliott Bay.”

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Mayor Proposes Stricter Ethics and Elections Rules

Mayor Ed Murray and Councilmember Tom Rasmussen proposed legislation today that would strengthen election and ethics rules. The legislation amends existing law to explicitly prohibit campaign activities at, or adjacent to, official City sponsored events.

“City Hall should be – and is – a forum for ideas and civic conversation, but taxpayer-funded events should never supplement or support outside campaign activities,” said Mayor Murray. “We need to ensure public resources are not being used for political purposes. Electioneering and fundraising have no place at, or during, City-sponsored events.”

The existing ethics rules currently prohibit the use of City stationery, postage, vehicles, equipment, and staff for election purposes. The proposal would further clarify the rule by explicitly prohibiting an elected official, or their representatives, to engage in campaign activities at or nearby any official City event that was organized by that elected official or their City staff.

“This is common sense legislation,” said Rasmussen, the bill’s Council sponsor. “Campaign activities must be separate from official public activities that are organized by City staff and paid for by the taxpayers. We need to make that clear in our Ethics and Elections Code.”

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New recycling contract will save $4.5 million

A new contract between the City of Seattle and its recycling processor, Republic Services, is expected to save about $4.5 million over a three-year period.

The new agreement resulted from a competitive Request for Proposals (RFP) process that rated Republic’s proposal highest based on financial and non-financial established criteria. The new contract contains provisions that would allow the city to recycle cooking oil and additional rigid household plastics.

“This new contract not only makes recycling cheaper in Seattle, we’re expanding the kinds of materials that we recycle,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “We’ve nearly reached our goal of recycling or composting 60 percent of all of our city’s waste, which is both better for the bottom line and also supports environmental quality.”

“Well done, SPU and Republic,” said Councilmember Sally Bagshaw. “I am pleased that city ratepayers will save money on recycling services, while we continue to partner with a local competitive company committed to paying its employees a living wage.”

Republic Services’ state-of-the-art recycling facility is located at the heart of Seattle’s SODO neighborhood. With a skilled team of employees and equipment like optical scanners that sort material down to the molecular level, Republic processes about 85,000 tons of material annually from Seattle residents.

Learn more at: www.seattle.gov/util.

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