In the midst of a moratorium on the growth, sale, and production of marijuana, the Lynden City Council has proposed a permanent ban. The vote is expected to be held in March, and there is nothing in the state law that prevents them from doing so. Lynden has already enacted temporary bans on the marijuana business since September 2013. This latest moratorium is in place while they discuss extending the ban in perpetuity. Lynden wouldn’t be the first city in Whatcom county to pass a ban on marijuana. No, that honor goes to Everson, who enacted a ban on September 22, 2015. However, Whatcom is a fairly rural county in Washington, known for producing most of the state’s raspberries. Also in 2014, the county voted for more conservative officials, especially the people in the small cities to the north of the county, such as Lynden. Keeping all of this in mind, it’s easier to understand why 69% of Lynden voted against marijuana legalization, and why they’re voting to ban the bud business.
This statement from Lynden’s Mayor Scott Korthuis illustrates the local attitude towards cannabis, “We feel our constituents feel the same way we do about keeping pot out of Lynden… this reflects the values of our town.” Everson’s Mayor John Perry expressed similar, yet more restrained views, “The consensus was that while we know this will not eliminate marijuana use in our community, the council felt they wanted to take that stand, that it’s not something we feel is healthy for our community.” What’s most important to consider is that this is a total ban on the marijuana industry in these towns, both medicinal and recreational. While it’s still legal to use cannabis, these bans impede the access of medicine to those who need it. For patients without a mode of transportation, this ban could mean they’ll be unable to get the relief they need. Regardless, the state’s attorney has given them the greenlight to enact these bans, citing that other cities across the country that have enacted similar bans have often won their cases in court.
“This phenomenon marks a new era in marijuana prohibition, where as it seemingly ends, there appears the dry-counties of tomorrow.”
The problem lies in how the marijuana laws are written and enforced in legalized states; often times the states don’t want local governments to feel pressured into accepting these laws. While this is a generally good concept, the banning of medical marijuana sales fails to consider the patients in need of medicine. Even in light of this injustice, counties and communities have banned or sought to ban medical marijuana sales in legal states across the country. This phenomenon marks a new era in marijuana prohibition, where as it seemingly ends, there appears the dry-counties of tomorrow. Only instead of truly setting an example of sobriety, they’ve let their opinions cloud their judgement to the point where they’ve denied patients reasonable access to medicine. If a town feels they want to ban recreational sales, then so be it. Patients are different though, they need access to adequate treatment. However, until the country begins to see medical marijuana for what it is, medicine, then we can expect other localities to take the same approach as Lynden,WA.