Everett, medical pot patients clash on proposed ordinance

EVERETT, Wash. -- A fight over medical marijuana erupted on Tuesday when some medical pot patients took to the street to protest the city's proposed zoning restrictions for dispensaries.

The ordinance would give the city power to declare medical marijuana providers a nuisance and shut them down.

On Tuesday the protesters hoped at least a few Everett City Council members might hear their arguments.

"This is a safe plant. And when used properly, it's not a threat to anybody," said a medical marijuana patient who only wished to be identified as Ben.

City leaders say they feel a potential threat from the federal government that still classifies pot as an illegal drug.

"We want to make sure we are honoring state law. We also want to make sure that the federal law is not going to put us in a bad situation," said Everett city spokesperson Kate Reardon.

According to those who provide medical marijuana, however, the city is creating a bad situation by forcing so-called collective gardens to locate only in industrial zones and away from neighborhoods.

"Why is is fair for someone in Seattle or Shoreline to have that right, or the corner store, when these people in Everett can't?" said Jeremy Kelsey of the Medical Marijuana Patients' Network. "It's just not fair."

Kelsey says Everett's moratorium on providers forced him to leave the city and set up shop in Mukilteo, where he has encountered no problems. He says he's disappointed Everett city leaders still want to put restrictions on medicinal marijuana.

"It's really sad these politicians are not seeing the benefit to these patients, to these citizens of their towns and cities," he said.

But the city says its ordinance, which ends the moratorium and allows providers to open freely in certain areas, is a step forward.

"We do believe this proposed ordinance provides a balance for people who need a collective garden as a resource," said Reardon.

The change isn't enough in the eyes of patients and providers.

The Everett City Council will take public comment on the issued during its meeting scheduled on Wednesday, 6:30 p.m. The council may vote on the proposed ordinance to restrict areas where medical pot providers can operate.