SEDRO-WOOLLEY — Medical marijuana patients may now grow cannabis together in certain parts of Sedro-Woolley.

The City Council voted 6-1 Wednesday night to approve an ordinance that allows medical marijuana collective gardens in industrial zones but bans them elsewhere in the city. Such gardens may have no signage besides an address and may not be within 500 feet of a school.

Councilman Tony Splane was the sole opposing vote.

“I think 1,000 feet is even too close,” Splane said. “But 500 feet? I wouldn’t be in favor of that.”

The ordinance, which takes effect next week, replaces the city’s moratorium on permitting collective gardens anywhere in Sedro-Woolley.

The moratorium amounted to a ban, and until two weeks ago, the council was considering an actual ban. The fact that marijuana legalization passed in every Sedro-Woolley precinct on Election Day started to sway them.

State law has allowed medical use of marijuana since the 1990s. Until Initiative 502’s state retail system is in place, buying or selling the drug remains illegal. Instead, qualifying patients must grow for themselves, or have a caregiver grow for them, in their homes.

However, up to 10 patients may grow up to 45 plants together in one place, called a collective garden. Because individual patients are allowed 15 plants each, collective gardens can mean fewer total cannabis plants in a community.

This ordinance bans such gardens except in parts of industrial areas that are more than 500 feet away from schools.

“If Johnny has a medical card, he has a right to grow in his house right now,” said Councilman Hugh Galbraith, pointing out that if the city allows collective gardens, at least authorities know where some of the town’s cannabis is.

Marijuana remains illegal under federal law. However, the federal Department of Justice has not made it a priority to prosecute individual patients growing small amounts within the state limit.

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