It has been a bumpy road for Washington State as they transition from the land of medical marijuana into the world of recreational marijuana. Unlike Colorado, Washington has not entertained the idea of medical and recreational cannabis co-existing until very recently. The WSLCB (WA State Liquor Control Board) has made it clear they believe the medical shops would be used to avoid the high tax, undermining the recreational dispensaries. However, this misunderstanding has cost hundreds, if not thousands, of patients their livelihood as their access to safe, affordable medicine is dwindling away.
Medical shops have been falling down like dominos all over Washington for the last year, but there are a few shops who are deeply committed to their community of medical cannabis patients and have fought to keep their doors open. When the Liquor and Cannabis Board finally had a change of heart, they decided to allow existing medical dispensaries to apply for a recreational dispensary license with a medical endorsement. This transition would come with many expensive adaptations in order to be compliant but at least gave them promise of survival. Store owners were told they had until July 1, 2016 to make all the upgrades.
In a drastic turn of events, the Liquor and Cannabis Board sent out notices to all the remaining medical dispensaries in the Seattle area alerting them that they had 14 days to get licensed or they will be shut down. All of a sudden, they are faced with the decision to either invest thousands of dollars into infrastructure in two weeks without guarantee of a license, scramble to find a new retail location outside of Seattle or sign a form acknowledging the risk of losing their business if they stay at their current location.
The Mayor of Seattle does not agree with this harsh move by the LCB and wrote a letter pleading them to change their minds, claiming “it unfairly disadvantages long-time good actors.” Many, if not all, of dispensary owners that are left standing have been responsible business-owners – paying taxes, taking great care of their employees, giving back to the community. Many are also patients themselves who are now in a state of panic, left hung out to dry.
Thanks to the internet, you don’t have to be in Seattle to take action… Follow this link to have your voice heard and do your part to save safe medical marijuana access in Seattle.
For more information, take a look at this King5 interview with Seattle dispensary owners, Jeremy Kaufman and Maryam Mirnateghi.