Medical marijuana dispensaries will have to apply for the same licenses as legal recreational shops in Seattle, which several activists argue is a move to wipe out medical marijuana dispensaries altogether by forcing the state to adopt the same policy.
Basically, by forcing medical shops to be recreational shops the government is setting the up to be shut down if the feds ever come in and shut everything related to Washington’s I-502 down.
“The government is trying to control medical marijuana and load (those businesses) onto the Titanic that is 502 (licensing) and set it asail,” Steve Sarich, leader of the Cannabis Action Coalition, tells the Puget Sound Business Journal. “That would eliminate medical and I-502 in one fell swoop.”
City leaders say that isn’t the case at all. Instead, they say they are trying to force the hand of the state legislature to make a clear distinction between the two.
Medical marijuana dispensary owners point out that recreational regulations required by I-502 (which voters passed last November legalizing recreational sales) are much more strict than medical regulations. Adhering to them now would be a costly endeavor for a lot of these stores.
Also at issue are background checks and the buying and selling of cannabis. Dispensaries now operate with an unregulated system for buying and selling their cannabis. It’s worked out well, but recreational laws were written with clear-cut rules surrounding distribution. Medical marijuana shops also don’t require background checks to run. Recreational shops will, and they’ll also weed out felons from the industry.
I-502 also limits the number of recreational shops in Washington, with Seattle allotted just 21 recreational shops. By comparison, Puget Sound Business Journal estimates there are about 240 medical marijuana dispensaries. If they have to have the same licenses as recreational shops, many fear that will force the city to cut about 90 percent of them simply to make the numbers.
At a hearing Tuesday regarding I-502 at the state’s Liquor Control Board (which has been charged with overseeing the marijuana industry for some stupid reason), several voiced their displeasure.
According to the Seattle PI blog, one medical marijuana patient read what he said was proof that the state was working to put an end to the unregulated medical marijuana system (and apparently trying to regulate what is seen as an unregulated market isn’t really a secret if you ask any elected official).
The patient, Charles Warner, was eventually booted from the meeting for his efforts. See a video below from Seattle PI reporter Jake Ellison: