In a relaxed atmosphere, the Sammamish City Council welcomed the two newest members of the council. Ramiro Valderrama, elected to seat 4, and Tom Vance, elected to seat 6 took the oath of office, before the council nominated and unanimously chose former deputy mayor Tom Odell as the city’s new mayor, and John James as the new deputy mayor.
A humbled Odell thanked the city staff, former mayor Don Gerend, and the council members for their confidence.
“Town center, the community center, public safety, financial health, a good bond rating, the environmentally critical areas ordinance are all priorities between now and 2025,” Odell said.
He said the question is how to have growth and protect the environment, as well as maintain a healthy local business community.
After a celebration with cake and coffee, the council got down to business.
Collective gardens were back on the agenda. In July the council adopted a six-month moratorium on collective gardens for growing medical cannabis, due to the conflict between state and federal law. The federal government classifies marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance, the same category as heroin and L.S.D.
Drugs with that classification, the government says, have a high potential for abuse and “no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.”
In the last legislative session governor Christine Gregoire vetoed a bill to legalize medical cannabis to protect state employees from federal prosecution.
In Issaquah a collective garden is allowed to serve up to 10 qualified patients, and can have up to 45 plants and no more than 72 ounces of useable marijuana or cannabis.
The garden must be located in the city’s commercial zones, and be separated by at least 1,000 feet from schools, the community center and other collective gardens, as well as 500 feet from parks and preschools or daycares.
The Sammamish council can choose to extend the moratorium in Sammamish for six more months but must do so at the Jan. 17 meeting, where it will take public comment on the issue. By extending until July 2012 it buys time for the council to see how the legislature deals with marijuana laws in the regular session beginning Jan. 9. Five votes will be needed to extend the moratorium.
Linda Ball can be reached at 206-232-1215 ext. 5052.