WASHINGTON: Twenty-one retail marijuana outlets likely won’t be enough to meet Seattle’s demand for now-legal, taxed, and regulated recreational marijuana, Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes says in a letter to the Washington State Liquor Control Board.
If Seattlites find it inconvenient to visit a stop, Holmes warns, “the illegal market will fill in the gaps and defeat the purposes of establishing a taxed and regulated recreational marijuana market.”
“We ask that the board carefully monitor supply and demand for recreational marijuana as soon as the licensed dispensers begin sales and consider issuing additional licenses later in 2004 if the 21 initial licenses are insufficient to meet demand in our city,” he told the WSLCB.
Holmes, in an interview, stressed that he’s not about boosting the use of marijuana locally, but about making it more difficult for those who operate outside Initiative 502 — which set down parameters for legalizing, regulating and taxing cannabis in the Evergreen State.
“Once the U.S. Department of Justice made clear that I-502 would go forward, the potential shift from a ‘gray’ market to a legal marijuana market is shaping up as much more rapid than the Liquor Control Board anticipated,” said Holmes.
“We’ve had upwards of 200 (medical) marijuana dispensaries in operation, many of them on the up-and-up — concerned about treatment of their patients — and others less so. Assume 85 to 90 percent now sell marijuana for recreational use, 21 retail stores are not going to replace them.”
The “shift” is not just in where to buy marijuana, but in law enforcement. Instead of cracking down on sale of marijuana, law enforcement will now be about the business of enforcing a state monopoly.
The Department of Justice has set down clear parameters for Washington and Colorado, the two states which voted in 2012 to legalize, tax and regulate the once-forbidden weed.