Maple Valley, King County and medical marijuana collective gardens
By TJ MARTINELL
Covington Reporter Reporter
July 5, 2012 · Updated 10:38 AM
Even if the Maple Valley Council did ban medical marijuana collective gardens, access points such as Green Society Group could still move just outside the city limits.
That's because King County has taken a different stance on the issue.
Maple Valley City Council is currently considering a ban on collective gardens for medical marijuana.
In a separate approach, King County has handled the issue of collective gardens with an "administrative interpretation" within its unincorporated area, according to Lauren Smith, unincorporated area relations manager for the county.
Currently, collective garden zoning decisions have been made through the Department of Development and Environmental Services.
"I'd guess we're taking a different approach in King County," Smith said. "Qualifying patients have access to medical marijuana. There's nothing any jurisdiction can do about that. But with collective gardens we recognized there might be more of an impact with that. So we think some limitations on gardens are reasonable."
According to Smith, the county's zoning code allows DDES to determine how and under what classification collective gardens are zoned.
John Starbard, the director of DDES, said he decided that he would classify collective gardens under business zoning. They are prohibited, however, in residential zoning.
"Generally we feeling qualifying patents should have access to medical marijuana as that's allowed under state law," he said. "The conundrum we faced is much of our zoning code is based upon a standard industrial code."
According to a King County designated zoning map, there are two main business zoning areas near Maple Valley within unincorporated King County. One is directly north of the city where businesses such as Valley Automotive Repair and Electric and Testy Chef are located. The second is situated southeast where the Ravensdale Market is located. The third is located east near the Hobart Post Office. Collective gardens are only zoned within the urban growth boundary of King County.
Starbard stated DDES chose not to allow collective gardens in residential zoning because it didn't seem appropriate.
So far, the King County Council has yet to deal with collective gardens.
King County Councilman Reagan Dunn, who lives in unincorporated King County near Maple Valley, stated the issue hasn't really been on the council's radar screen, though he said that he intends to bring it up at some point.
Dunn said he believes the council has the authority to ban collective gardens if they choose to, and while he considers medical marijuana to have positive benefits, he added "it needs to be tightly controlled, because what I don't want to see is these grow operations turning into proxy for recreational use. I don't think the state is a better place if we outright legalize pot or even tax it. So when I say that I get concerned about these grow facilities out the backdoor…Rest assured right now probably five miles within where you are there are illegal growers out there."
Dunn also stated that unlike most hot button issues, such as gay marriage or abortion where people are evenly divided, medical marijuana has what he called a "tiny fraction that are super 'for' or super 'against.' The rest of the state is 'sort of like it, sort of don't like it.'"\Contact Covington Reporter Reporter TJ Martinell at email@example.com or 425-432-1209 ext. 5052.