An open letter to the Mayor, City Council and Planning Department of Poulsbo:
The proposed zoning criteria for medical cannabis collective gardens will disenfranchise medical marijuana patients in Poulsbo and North Kitsap of availability to their medicine.
By designating these gardens as “Light Industrial,” with restrictions on par with “Adult Entertainment Businesses,” it would be difficult to impossible for such gardens to become established as allowed under state law, and put participants at further risk of federal investigation, arrest and prosecution with more severe penalties.
Most of the allowable sites, as proposed, are already occupied by tenants whose policies would not allow for a private collective garden that produces or distributes a federally controlled substance. Such tenants include a storage facility, Kitsap County Public Works, Kitsap Transit, City of Poulsbo, and the Washington State Patrol. The selected sites are also in close proximity to public parks, churches, or “other facility regularly used by children,” which violates 21 U.S.C. Section 860 — federal penalties for convictions in drug free zones are in addition to other offenses, and can double, or triple the initial penalties.
Despite what some may feel about the medicinal use of cannabis, the debate ended in 1998, when voters of our state approved the Medical Use of Cannabis Act, thereby validating cannabis as medicine. Support for medical use is currently 74 percent nationally. Kitsap voters approved the tax-and-regulate marijuana Initiative 502 by a 56-to-42 percent margin. It is clear that public support for the federal prohibition on marijuana is waning. Elected officials that maintain prohibitionist attitudes on this matter will eventually be replaced by those that offer more empathetic views and realize the economic potential for local jobs in new industry.
Marijuana-related industries extend beyond access to raw-plant material, and include manufacture of baked goods, topical ointments, and infused beverages, such as coffees, beers and sodas — these are industries that can begin to develop now under our state’s medical cannabis laws, then eventually under a non-medical market.
I urge the City of Poulsbo to reconsider the zoning criteria for medical cannabis collective gardens, so that constituents that need it can have safe and affordable access to their medicine. This medicinal herb offers less risk of abuse than alcohol or tobacco, and is non-lethal — therefore, it is deserving of a commercial zoning status similar to bars and taverns.
With careful consideration to address concerns for signage and public view, equitable policies can be developed to ensure responsible adult access to cannabis.