Seattle to shutter dozens of medical marijuana dispensaries

SEATTLE — With Washington state overhauling its medical marijuana law, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray says the city is planning to shutter dozens of dispensaries.

Murray on Tuesday announced plans to require a new special business license for marijuana establishments, akin to those required for taxi operators and pawn shops. Under the mayor’s plan, the businesses will be required to obtain the licenses by July 2016.

But just as the state’s new medical marijuana law gives priority in licensing to dispensaries that were in operation before Jan. 1, 2013, so does Murray’s proposal. Seattle officials say that by their tally, 54 of the city’s 99 medical marijuana storefronts opened after that date or have been operating without a city business license.

Murray’s office says those businesses won’t be getting the special license and need to shut down. The rest will be allowed to remain open long enough to see if they wind up being permitted by the state.

“It is time to ensure that everyone plays by the same rules,” Murray said. “We’re strengthening the recreational marijuana market and creating safer, more consistent access for those who rely on medicinal products.”

Earlier this year, state lawmakers passed a new medical marijuana law as they tried to reconcile the tension in the marketplace since voters in 2012 approved a measure legalizing recreational use of pot.

The proliferation of green-cross medical dispensaries had long been a concern for police and other officials who said they were a masquerade for black-market sales. Some proprietors of the new, state-licensed recreational pot businesses — saddled with higher taxes — called them unfair competitors.

Among the new state medical marijuana law’s many provisions, it creates a voluntary registry of patients and, beginning next year, eliminates what have become in some cases large, legally dubious “collective gardens” providing cannabis to thousands of people.

Instead, those patients will be able to purchase medical-grade products at legal recreational marijuana stores that obtain an endorsement to sell medical marijuana, or they’ll be able to participate in much-smaller cooperative grows, of up to just four patients.

Washington in 1998 became one of the first states to approve the use of marijuana for medical purposes.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Updated 2020 primary election results for Snohomish County

Returns for contested races and ballot measures, updated daily as mail-in ballots are counted.

Boy, 12, now says he made up kidnapping story near Everett

A man accused of grabbing the boy was still in jail Thursday. Authorities were working to release him.

Pursuit ends in fiery collision with dump truck in Tulalip

The man was suspected of shoplifting. He allegedly fled from Marysville police in a stolen car.

County’s Catholic schools will do distance learning this fall

The Archdiocese of Seattle will follow state guidelines and is planning for online teaching.

House candidate injured in crash on primary election day

April Berg was a passenger in a car struck by a suspected impaired driver Tuesday near Everett.

Brace for delays along U.S. 2 for bridge and road work

Projects between Snohomish and Index are set for the coming week, with single-lane traffic in spots.

Inslee says schools in virus hot spots should stay closed

That includes Snohomish County. But the he backs reopening elementaries in counties with low infection rates.

Marysville sues Arlington over plan for 500 apartments

Marysville worries the major project on 51st Avenue NE will gum up traffic at a nearby intersection.

Most Read