As predicted by Sensible Washington, the Kent City Council voted last night to ban medical marijuana collective gardens within the city by a vote of 4-3. The now-passed ordinance declares that medical marijuana collective gardens "are not appropriate for any zoning designation within the city."
"There are certain things we want in the City of Kent and other things we don't," said Kent City Council member Billy Boyce, chair of the Public Safety committee, prior to last night's vote. Boyce, who voted in favor of the ban along with council members Dana Ralph, Les Thomas and Deborah Ranniger, told Seattle Weekly earlier this week that after an extended period of time spent learning about current state and federal marijuana laws, and extensive time spent discussing the situation with members of the Kent City Council, he decided to support the ban.
The vote to prohibit medical marijuana collective gardens in Kent came despite a large showing of medical marijuana supporters that arrived at Kent City Hall in a last-ditch effort to persuade the council against taking the action. It didn't work. Organized in part by Sensible Washington, an active pro-pot group that has taken strong issue with Kent's collective garden banning ordinance, the sizable outpouring of medical marijuana supporters were left disappointed but not without a plan of recourse, according to Anthony Martinelli, a Sensible Washington steering committee member and its communications co-director.
"The four who voted in favor of the ban have shown themselves to be another group of out-of-touch, power hungry politicians," says Martinelli. "This is not an issue that we will forget, and we believe strongly that going forward organized action must be taken to remove elected officials who stand against the will of their constituents."
As has been previously reported on Daily Weekly, Sensible Washington is also leading an effort this election season to pass a city-level initiative making marijuana crimes Kent's lowest law-enforcement priority, and also prohibit the city from cooperating with federal law enforcement in these matters.
Martinelli points out that Kent Mayor Suzette Cooke, who he describes as a strong supporter of the ban, is up for reelection
this next year. Martinelli says Sensible Washington "would strongly back any opposition [to Cooke] who would respect state law and their constituents."
I've reached out to Cooke for comment. When she responds I will update this post accordingly. (UPDATE: Cooke responded late in the day Wednesday.)
"The actions taken by the majority of this council shows a severe lack of compassion, a blatant disregard for the will of their constituents, and a lack of understanding of how to improve the safety of their community," says Martinelli. "The black market is cheering the passage of this ban."
Steve Sarich of the recently-launched Cannabis Action Coalition was in Kent last night to personally serve the Kent City Council with papers suing the city after it voted to ban collective gardens - an action he adamantly says violates existing state medical marijuana laws. The Cannabis Action Coalition lawsuit seeks to overturn the ban.
Sarich says the Cannabis Action Coalition was created to aggressively defend patients' right to medical marijuana, and plans to play offense instead of defense when it comes to protecting those rights - as demonstrated by last night's action in Kent. He says future targets of Cannabis Action Coalition legal action may include Pasco and Clark County.
"They whine that the state law is muddy and unclear," says Sarich of cities like Kent that have enacted moratoriums or passed similar ordinances. "The law is pretty clear, and is crystal clear when it comes to collective gardens. ... I challenge you to find anything in the state law that gives cities the right to regulate collective gardens [as Kent now has]."
"All we're doing is enforcing state law."
As far as the lawsuit filed yesterday against the City of Kent goes, Sarich says "the next move is up to them." If the council reverses its ban on medical marijuana collective gardens he'll be happy to drop the lawsuit. If not, Sarich is eager to head to court.
"If they really want to go to court, we're ready," says Sarich. "The only thing these people are going to listen to is money going out of their bank account."
Watch Sarich's short speech in front of the Kent City Council last night below:
Find the Cannabis Action Coalition's lawsuit on the next page ...
The lawsuit filed by Steve Sarich and the Cannabis Action Coalition against the City of Kent yesterday: