Mayor Murray announces symposium on medical marijuana, law enforcement

Regulation of medical marijuana businesses in Seattle and in jurisdictions across the state remains an unsettled question, generating increasing fears among patients and business owners about the potential for stepped-up federal law enforcement.

The City of Seattle will hold a public symposium on Nov. 20 at City Hall for those concerned about access to safe medical marijuana and the location of marijuana-related businesses in the city.

Mayor Ed Murray has been working with community interests and the City Council on legislation to increase protections for medical marijuana patients and establish a common-sense regulatory framework to govern where and how these businesses operate in Seattle. The mayor plans to transmit a draft ordinance to the council by the end of the year.

“We are still looking to Olympia to enact broad medical marijuana reform next session, but we need to take action here in Seattle to address immediate concerns of patients, businesses and neighbors,” said Murray. “Even if the state acts, we know implementation could stretch into 2016. We don’t want patients and businesses waiting in limbo, even as they face increasing legal risks.”

Next week’s symposium will feature panel discussions on a range of issues where medical marijuana businesses face a much more uncertain regulatory landscape than recreational marijuana operations governed by the state’s Liquor Control Board, including:

  • Testing of marijuana products for purity and strength
  • Best practices for manufacturing marijuana-infused products
  • Packaging and labeling requirements
  • The location of dispensaries and collective gardens

The event will also feature a broader discussion of the disproportionate impact that marijuana criminal statutes and law enforcement have on youth and people of color.

The panels will feature patient advocates and medical providers, marijuana business representatives, testing providers, community representatives and city agency leaders. The symposium will be convened by Patricia Lally, Director of the Office of Civil Rights, who will offer introductory remarks.

The symposium will be held in the Bertha Knight Landes Room at City Hall on Thursday, Nov. 20 from 5 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. The public are encouraged to attend and ask questions of the panelists. Those unable to attend may submit questions through the Mayor’s website: www.seattle.gov/mayor.