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Medica marijuana ;patients can't grow gardens in Sunnyside

The City of Sunnyside has revised its business license requirements and Monday, the city council approved the revision.

The amended business license requirements clarify that the city will not approve a business license if the business is not lawful under city, state and federal statutes.

Intended to limit activity associated with collective gardens (medical marijuana gardens), the new language prohibits Sunnyside from issuing business licenses to anyone seeking one for purposes that are not federally legal.

The provision also prevents the city from issuing business licenses to marijuana dispensaries because marijuana is a controlled substance under federal statutes.

Councilman Jim Restucci was in favor of the amended business license requirements, stating, "We can't be compliant with both state and federal law if they are at odds with one another."

Alex Newhouse, a proponent of medical marijuana gardens, said he has yet to hear how the city has been negatively impacted by medical marijuana. He said Washington state voters and legislators have approved the use of medical marijuana.

"I know you are trying to make it impossible for collective gardens in the city," he said.

Deputy Police Chief Phil Schenck said there have been thefts related to medical marijuana gardens. At least one of those thefts resulted in a motor vehicle accident.

Councilman Jason Raines spoke to the issue, stating he would like to know how the city regulates vegetable gardens in making a comparison to collective gardens.

City Planner Jamey Ayling said the city requires a business license if the property owners growing vegetables are doing so for profit.

"If the city is aware of citizens selling products, making money, they will be required to obtain a business license," he said.

Councilwoman Theresa Hancock believed the new revision doesn't include a way in which the city can regulate collective gardens.

After further discussion on the new language regarding business license requirements, the council approved the amendment by a 4-3 vote. Raines, Restucci and Hancock were opposed, wanting to discuss the issue further.

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