Tacoma To Close Most Medical Marijuana Shops

WASHINGTON:  Sometime this month, more than 60 medical marijuana store owners in Tacoma will receive a letter from the city telling them to close their doors within 45 days.

“We don’t need 60 stores selling marijuana in Tacoma,” Mayor Marilyn Strickland said Tuesday. “At a minimum, 48 of these stores do need to close down permanently.”

The City Council told staff Tuesday to move forward with sending the letters. The move comes six months after the council decided to delay enforcement action to see if state lawmakers would act to regulate medical marijuana shops.

The Legislature did act, charging the Liquor Control Board with deciding which medical marijuana shops and grow operations to legitimize and which ones must close by July 1, 2016.

Medical Marijuana Referendum Won’t Be On Washington Ballot

WASHINGTON:  Washington voters won’t be asked this fall if they want to keep changes made this spring to the state’s medical marijuana laws.

Organizers of a petition drive to place a referendum of the new law on the ballot won’t be turning in signatures by this week’s deadline, the secretary of state’s office said Monday.

Referendum 76 would have challenged changes in state law that put the state’s largely unregulated medical marijuana system under the regulation of the Liquor Control Board, which currently oversees the recreational marijuana industry.

Medical marijuana dispensaries and commercial growers will have to be licensed. The law also sets up a registry system for patients and imposes a tax system similar to the recreational pot system.


Oldest, Best Behaved Medical Marijuana Shops Most Likely To Get Licensed

WASHINGTON:  Washington marijuana regulators have a big job ahead of them, and replacing officers’ badges, shirts and caps with ones that read “Liquor and Cannabis Board” is the least of it.

The same law that will change the Liquor Control Board’s name July 24 directs the agency to decide which unlicensed medical-marijuana shops and grow operations to legitimize and which ones must close by July 1, 2016.

Questions remain unanswered, but the process will involve a merit system and will look different from the one the liquor board has used to hand out more than 500 licenses to growers and processors over the past year and more than 150 to stores.

The agency opened a 30-day window in late 2013 for those recreational-marijuana applications. Licenses went to growers and processors that were qualified and ready to go and retailers that won a lottery for a limited number of slots.

Washington State Marijuana Shops Caught Selling To Minors

WASHINGTON:  Washington’s retail marijuana businesses got calls from the state liquor control board before the sting operations began, warning them and reminding them about best practices when it comes to keeping weed out of kids’ hands. But when the board sent 18- to 20-year-old operatives into the first batch of stores this month to see if shops would sell them weed, four of them still failed the test. According to the board’s report released Wednesday, that amounted to 18% of 22 operations.

“We’re always going to have the goal of 100% compliance, that’s what we want; [82%] is good, but it’s not great,” says State Senator Ann Rivers, who has continued to work on reforming the state’s retail and medical marijuana industries. “Many of these businesses have invested a lot of time and a lot of money. And it’s stunning to me that they’d be willing to risk their livelihood to do something so foolish.”

By the end of June, the state plans to conduct sting operations at each of the 138 retail marijuana shops reporting sales in Washington. “When the news is out,” the liquor control board’s Brian Smith says of these first numbers, “we’ll see a spike in compliance. That’s what happened on the alcohol side.” In the operations, the underage shoppers present their real IDs if asked but don’t offer an ID if they aren’t; if a store sells them marijuana, they complete the transaction and bring the contraband to officers waiting outside the shops.


Washington Begins Operations To Root Out Underage Pot Sales

WASHINGTON:  Washington state marijuana enforcement officials say they’re beginning undercover sting operations to make sure legal pot stores aren’t selling to anyone under 21.

The Liquor Control Board announced Tuesday that this month it’s starting the sting operations, using 18-to-21-year-old men and women who are employees of the state agency.

The board says it wants to make sure the stores are checking IDs, and that good practice is to ask for identification from anyone who appears to be under 30 years old.

Attorney General Urges LCB To Consider All Forms Of Marijuana That Appeal To Children In Rule Making Process

WASHIGNTON:  Attorney General Bob Ferguson today sent a letter to the Liquor Control Board sharing his recommendations about the board’s proposed permanent rules on recreational marijuana.  Ferguson highlighted his concern that rules be crafted to address all marijuana products that have the potential to appeal to children.

“As our state implements voter-approved recreational marijuana, it’s crucial that the rules governing it take every measure possible to protect children,” Ferguson said. “That’s why I am calling upon the LCB to regulate not just marijuana-infused products that can appeal to kids, but also flavored usable marijuana and concentrates with the same potential.”

The current administrative rules were initially implemented as a temporary, emergency measure last year. The LCB is now working to establish permanent rules.

Washington Bill To End Dispensaries, Reduce Patients’ Rights, Scheduled For Public Hearing

WASHINGTON:  A bill to shut down every medical cannabis dispensaries in Washington State, and to significantly reduce patients’ rights, has been scheduled for a public hearing on March 5th in the House Health Care and Wellness Committee. The measure has already been approved by the state’s Senate.

Senate Bill 5052 would shut down every dispensary in the state, would establish a mandatory patient registry and would reduce the amount of cannabis a patient can possess (from 24 ounces to 3) and cultivate (from 15 plants to 6).

Recreational cannabis retail outlets would be given the opportunity to apply for a medical cannabis endorsement – which would require staff to take a mandatory Department of Health-approved class – which would demonstrate that they’re “knowledgeable in the medical use of marijuana”. These outlets would apply for the endorsement from The Liquor Control Board, which would be renamed to the Liquor and Cannabis Control Board and given regulatory authority over the cannabis industry.

Legal Pot By The Numbers: 99 Stores Licensed, $64 Million In Sales

WASHINGTON:  After a rocky start and supply troubles, the recreational marijuana industry is slowly gaining ground in Washington state. With the new year upon us, here are some numbers that help put things in context.

In Seattle, just eight retail marijuana stores have been licensed by the Liquor Control Board; seven are open.

The LCB allotted Seattle 21 stores. It plans to license as many as 334 stores statewide. Cannabis City, which opened July 8, was the first to operate in Seattle.

Unprepared applicants, difficulties finding legal space in a dense city as well as complicated zoning rules have slowed Seattle pot shops.

Tacoma To Tell Unlicensed Pot Shops To Close By Summer

WASHINGTON:  By summer, Tacoma city officials hope to rid the city of all marijuana shops except a handful of state-licensed stores.

The Tacoma City Council told staff Tuesday to get ready to shut down unlicensed marijuana businesses, many of which cater to medical pot users. Letters telling business owners to cease operations could be mailed by early next year.

Five stores operating under Initiative 502’s regulatory framework for recreational marijuana have opened in Tacoma this year, according to city staff. Under state licensing guidelines, the state Liquor Control Board could permit three more.

But those licensed recreational stores would still be vastly outnumbered by the unlicensed shops, which city staff say number at least 56.

Unlicensed marijuana stores do not pay the high taxes that state-licensed stores do, nor are they subject to the strict regulations that recreational pot businesses must obey. This amounts to an unfair playing field, said Mayor Marilyn Strickland.

Washington Puts Pot Sales, Fines Online For Banks

WASHINGTON:  Banking remains a thorny issue for legal marijuana businesses, but regulators in Washington state are trying to make it easier for financial institutions to track their pot-related customers.

In the last few days, the state’s Liquor Control Board has started posting the sales activity of legal marijuana growers, sellers and processers online — along with any warnings or fines issued to businesses caught out of compliance.
Board spokesman Brian Smith says the idea is to make it easy for banks or credit unions to discover red flags that might indicate illegal activity. Early this year, the U.S. Justice and Treasury Departments gave banks the OK to do business with legal marijuana entities with conditions, including trying to make sure the customers are complying with regulations.
So far, data has been posted online for last month. It shows two marijuana growers were issued fines totaling $8,500.