Dozens protest Kent's plan to shut down pot dispensaries

Dozens protest Kent's plan to shut down pot dispensaries
KENT, Wash. -- Marijuana is the last plant on the planet 72-year-old Lee Ann Cook ever thought she'd defend.

But it was what the doctor ordered.

"He says, 'You know where you can get some to try?' I said, 'No,'" said Cook. "I was totally against it."

But there she was on Tuesday night, on her feet with about a hundred others, taking a stand as the city of Kent slammed down medical marijuana. The city says medical marijuana dispensaries are breaking the law, and need to be stopped now or face criminal charges.

"Silly to me when people need it," said Cook. "I can't imagine myself going down into the street, trying to buy some. I wouldn't have any idea what to do."

Patients like Cook are the big losers in the state law that forces Kent to close shops, according to Kent Mayor Suzette Cooke.

"My hands are tied," the mayor said. "I am not hanging. We've decided we've moved ahead. I just think that there should have been a better option for everybody involved."

Gov. Chris Gregoire recently vetoed sections of a bill that protected dispensaries. She said she would not subject state employees to federal prosecution. And Kent city leaders say they are simply following suit.

But the law is clearly in question to people crammed inside city hall, signs in tow.

"We can help these patients," said Charles Lambert of Evergreen Holistic Center, a dispensary. Lambert, who received a cease and desist letter from the city, says the battle is, sadly, under way.

"This is going to be a city-to-city fight, you know. I don't know what they're afraid of," he said.

Patients fear being forced into the black market where they say drug dealers will flourish, the quality of the drug diluted and patients cheated.

Those patients and businesses are hoping they can hold out long enough for the Legislature to come up with a fix next year.