Today Mayor Ed Murray issued the following statement in support of patients seeking continued access to medical marijuana in Seattle:
“Shutting down all collective gardens is not the right solution because it leaves our patients out in the cold. Hundreds of patients fighting chronic, debilitating diseases or terminal illnesses need access to safe, medical-grade cannabis. We have the responsibility to ensure the safety of patients and the character of our neighborhoods.
“I remain concerned about the uncontrolled growth of collective gardens in the City of Seattle and the impact these have in our neighborhoods. I continue to hear from families and neighborhood advocates who see clustering of medical marijuana storefronts in some areas of the city. We must do more to regulate where those collective gardens are located relative to our schools and parks, for example. We must also do more to take enforcement action against those collective gardens that are compromising the public health and safety of patients and neighbors.
“I have advocated for a clearer framework of state regulations for marijuana providers. I am hopeful that the Legislature will move forward to establish a statewide framework that addresses the future of medical marijuana. In the absence of action at the state level, we must act here in Seattle.
“I have heard from patient advocates that recreational stores cannot meet their needs. State-regulated recreational marijuana stores are prohibited by law from discussing any medical benefits that can be gained from the use of marijuana. A cancer patient who walks into a recreational store cannot get the advice they get in a collective garden, where the staff can identify products that would increase their appetite to counteract the effects of chemotherapy.
“Working with a range of stakeholders, I continue to develop a localized solution to this challenge that would allow some collective gardens to continue to serve patients until the Legislature addresses the existing gap. I intend to forward a draft ordinance to the city council in the coming weeks that will protect patient access to safe medical-grade marijuana. We must establish better oversight of these collective gardens, and we must support the success of legal, state-regulated marijuana retailers, but not at the expense of patients.”