Camas takes a position on collective medical marijuana gardens

Marijuana possession for any use violates federal law

The city of Camas finds itself in the middle of state and federal laws when it comes to the legality of medical marijuana collective gardens, and in response the City Council has passed a resolution that effectively makes them illegal within city limits.

Last night in a 6-0 vote the Camas City Council passed the resolution that recognizes the city’s existing adopted code and language requiring all permitted uses to be in compliance with local, state and federal requirements.

Councilwoman Linda Dietzman was absent.

The language of the resolution is similar to one adopted by the Pasco City Council in June, which makes collective marijuana gardens illegal because its municipal code does not allow any use which is in violation with local, state or federal laws, regulations, codes or ordinances.

In May 2011 the State Legislature passed a law allowing collective gardens, but Gov. Chris Gregoire vetoed parts of it.

The state law permits qualifying patients to produce, grow and deliver up to 45 cannabis plants to serve no more than 10 qualifying patients for medical use. It is an extension of an initiative passed by Washington voters in 1998 that allows the use of marijuana for medical purposes.

The Federal Controlled Substance Act, however, states that growing or possessing marijuana is illegal, no matter what the use.

Waiting to see if the state legislature would address the issue during the 2012 session, in July 2011 Camas passed its first six-month moratorium on establishing or operating marijuana collective gardens or dispensaries within city limits. This was followed by a six-month extension of that moratorium in January 2012.

But the legislative session ended in April without the adoption of any new medical marijuana regulations and the city’s moratorium expired in June.

A letter from the U.S. Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration added a certain amount of concern to the situation. The communication to the Clark County Board of Commissioners outlined the federal government’s position.

“Anyone who knowingly carries out the marijuana activities contemplated by Washington state law, as well as anyone who facilitates such activities, or conspires to commit such violations, is subject to criminal prosecution as provided in the CSA,” states the letter. “That same conclusion would apply with equal force to the proposed activities of the Board of Clark County Commissioners and Clark County employees.”

In a memo to the Camas City Council, assistant city attorney David Schultz explained the impact the federal government’s position on the City of Camas.

“What can be extrapolated from this letter is that the federal government’s position would apply to the Camas officials and employees,” he said.