Yakima County puts moratorium on marijuana

YAKIMA, Wash. -- Yakima County placed a moratorium on the sale and production of all marijuana for the next six months. Some question if this is necessary.

KIMA spoke with officials to see if this hold is necessary or only slowing the process of allowing the drug in our county.

"I've been diagnosed with cancer, hepatitis C, cirrhosis of the liver, I've had major breakage in my left arm, crushed ribs on my right side...," said John Gooderl, a medical marijuana user.

John Gooderl's list of illnesses is a long one. After taking other prescription medication for years with no results, he finally found a cure in medical marijuana, which he grew for himself until he says he was raided by the DEA last month.

Now people like John will have to wait at least another six months, as the county placed a moratorium on the drug to be sure they are in compliance with rules coming from the Liquor Control Board, and to be sure they will be protected from the federal government.

Just last week the US Department of Justice said they will allow individual states to continue making local laws on how to sell and regulate marijuana. This leads some to ask if a six month hold on the drug is even necessary.

County officials told me that the rules the Liquor Control Board is making for marijuana don't automatically become the law of the state.

"The counties are the hands and the feet if you will of the state of Washington. So for the Liquor Control Board just simply to state something it actually has to go through a public process here at the county level," said County Commissioner Michael Leita.

Officials told KIMA that they are bound to uphold the decision of the state voters to allow marijuana, but this hold is necessary as many questions have yet to be answered by the Liquor Control Board as they create new rules for the first time.

"It's not our intent here to prolong this process, our intent here is to be clear and discerning in our ordinances for the benefit of the community," said Leita.

Which leaves medical users like John, with no choice but to wait it out, if he can.

"Without my medication in six months I'll be lucky if I'm still alive let alone not in the hospital, that's what I've got to look forward to," said Gooderl.

A public hearing will now be held in the county in the next 60 days.