PULLMAN, Wash. -- Residents now must register with the Pullman Police Department to engage in the production, distribution or cultivation of medical marijuana in the city.
But the steps necessary to obtain registration could be impossible, for the time being.
The City Council voted Tuesday night to required registration of medical cannabis operations, which are allowed by state law under certain conditions. Registration is already required for commercial businesses, residential renters and itinerant vendors in the city, officials noted.
To produce, distribute or cultivate medical marijuana in the city, a person must provide their name, date of birth, telephone number, email address and the street address where cultivation is conducted, said City Attorney Laura McAloon. The same information is required from the owner of the property, and from anyone who would use the marijuana grown there.
In addition -- and this seems to be the difficult part, McAloon said -- anyone registering with the city to cultivate medical marijuana also must have written acknowledgement from the federal Drug Enforcement Administration that they are in accordance with federal laws.
The DEA does not give approval for use of marijuana of any kind, even medicinal, a DEA spokesperson, who refused to give a name, told the Daily News Wednesday.
"There is no authorization given from us," he said. "Marijuana is illegal under federal law."
However, passing the ordinance keeps city employees safe from federal criminal prosecution, McAloon said. Despite what state laws may allow, the federal government has threatened
to prosecute criminally city employees for "facilitating" medical cannabis operations.
"So that's the conflict. Which law prevails?" McAloon said. "Who really controls that issue in the United States? So we've done what state law says we can do in this situation, which is to impose a local system of licensing and registration."
Under federal law, marijuana is classified as a Schedule 1 drug, which is banned completely throughout the nation. Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire and Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee sent a petition to the DEA to reclassify cannabis as a Schedule 2 drug instead, categorizing it along with drugs such as morphine and codeine, which are regulated and prescribed by a physician. Their first push for the reclassification was submitted 10 years ago and denied just last year, McAloon said. The governors resubmitted the proposal in November and will wait while the DEA does another scientific study to determine how marijuana should be classified.
According to a press release from Gregoire's office, the resubmitted proposal includes a science-based report that cites more then 700 references on medical marijuana, many of them new findings since the last study in 2006,
"Once the federal government and state governments resolve their conflict, now the city has a system in place for licensing and registraton," McAloon said. "And it still protects the city from any federal issues."
Kelli Hadley can be reached at (208) 882-5561, ext. 234, or by email to khadleydnews.com.
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