August 29, 2011

New Medical Marijuana Laws Force Seattle Condominiums to Choose Sides

In 1998, Washington state voters approved a law permitting the use of medical marijuana by patients with certain terminal and debilitating medical conditions. On July 22, 2011, that law was amended to expand state-sanctioned patient protections, permit the formation of collective gardens managed by up to ten qualifying medical marijuana patients, and authorize cities to regulate medical marijuana.
Seattle City Ordinance 123611 went into effect on August 21, 2011. It seeks to regulate the possession, production, and distribution of medical marijuana in light of the fact that there are currently a number of medical marijuana dispensaries operating in Seattle. However, that ordinance also notes that local licensing of medical marijuana does not change the fact that possession, production, and distribution of marijuana (medical or otherwise) violate federal law. Washington Governor Christine Gregoire recently warned that medical marijuana patients and their providers remain subject to federal prosecution and should carefully evaluate the risks associated with their conduct.

Medical marijuana gardens and dispensaries are illegal. Seattle condominium associations confronted with requests to operate marijuana-related enterprises can just say no. Associations that are inclined to grant such requests should first seek the advice of an attorney in order to understand the possible ramifications of that course of action.