SHELTON — Collective gardens are out and medical marijuana cooperatives are in.
That was the rule after the Mason County commissioners took unanimous action Tuesday to repeal the county’s collective gardens, two of which were operating.
The commissioners already enacted a moratorium on new permits for medical cannabis cooperatives so the issue could be discussed in public hearings. The moratorium passed 2-1 with county Commissioner Randy Neatherlin opposed. He wanted an immediate public hearing before action.
“We did a knee-jerk reaction when we approved the moratorium before,” Neatherlin said.
During the public hearing Tuesday on cooperatives, medical marijuana patient and grower John Reed complained that medical cannabis was already over-regulated, which was hampering patients like him to affordably grow it.
“Most of the people don’t have a place to grow it,” Reed said, adding that he had to cut down his own pot plants under the new state regulations or face prosecution.
He said he could grow his own pound of pot for $300 compared to several thousand dollars for a pound of recreational marijuana.
Commissioner Terri Jeffreys explained that zoning regulations for cooperatives were intended to project the neighbors surrounding the home where marijuana was grown. She said odor was a key complaint, recalling the county’s decision to allow a pot-growing operation on Sells Road, odor of which affected neighbors.
Commissioner Tim Sheldon, who is also a state senator, said the marijuana law is evolving.
Under new state law, collective gardens are similar to cooperatives except cooperatives cannot located within a mile of marijuana retailers, which since July 1 can also sell medical marijuana.
Cooperatives can only operate in the home of a medical marijuana patient who grows marijuana for other members of the cooperative.
With the removal of collective gardens, the state resumes a more stringent role in the control of medical marijuana.