Last week the Tacoma City Council did a double disservice to the town’s medical marijuana industry. Not only did they table a proposal intended to establish proper zoning and land-use regulations for medical cannabis dispensaries, they also turned the plan around and will now attempt to utilize the public nuisance code to target unwanted dispensaries and force them out of business.
City officials justified abandoning the creation of dispensary regulations by claiming if they formally sanctioned a medical marijuana program, it could potentially make local government employees subject to federal prosecution for violating the Controlled Substances Act, which outlaws all uses of marijuana.
The proposed collective pot gardens were also abandoned after the City Council was scared off trying to develop some kind of workable system for the approximately 40 Tacoma-based dispensaries to safely and legally provide medicine to qualified patients.
The Council will meet Tuesday, July 24 to discuss the suggested modifications to the nuisance code, which will be used to “weed out” otherwise legitimate medical pot dispensaries in those neighborhoods where local residents have complained about their presence. Dispensaries in more industrial areas appear to be safe from the code crackdown.
Tacoma attorney Jay Berneberg, who represents several dispensary operators, expressed his clients’ general disenchantment with city officials' failure to act on this issue, telling the News Tribune: “Tacoma was in a leadership role on this for the entire state … It made me proud to be here. Now they’ve dropped the ball.”