KENT, Wash. -- All four medical marijuana facilities in Kent were closed down by city hall Wednesday. The move comes after a 5-2 vote Tuesday night mandating a six month moratorium on dispensaries and other related businesses like grow operations.
The businesses were sent cease and desist warnings in early June, but police discovered drugs were still being sold, the city said.
Other cities have passed similar moratoriums but left a grey area that allow existing operations to stay open. To Kent's mayor, however, the issue is black and white. "Medical marijuana, any kind of marijuana, is still illegal to sell and distribute at the state level and the federal level," said Mayor Suzette Cooke.
It all has to do with the inability to pass a comprehensive marijuana reform law in Washington. Recent polls show widespread support for the legalization of the drug. The mayor's move is not a popular one in Kent.
"When it comes right down to it, these people need their marijuana," says resident Corey Forbis. "They're either gonna get it from a drug dealer on the street or a place like this. What would you rather have in your city?"
Others look at a more political motivation for the shut downs. Jason, who runs a web site that directs pot buyers to dispensaries says, "Everybody knows Charles Lambert (owner of Kent's now closed Evergreen Holistic Center) is running for city council in Kent. He wants to make a change here. He knows in Washington state people want this. In Kent people want this."