Washington is among the few states where marijuana is legal for medical and recreational use. Some lawmakers, along with the federal government, have yet to uncross their arms.
So, you might wonder why Tacoma – a hub for some 60 medical marijuana dispensaries is about to evict nearly all of them. They aren’t calling it eviction, of course – the city council is about to send letters to them that they now have 45 days to close their doors for good.
The reasoning? There are too many shops…no one needs that amount of shops… Is that really so?
In a time of economic and health devastation, where local economies shrivel up and attempt to ban homelessness – where business buildings remain abandoned because no one can afford to try again – it seems like an all around win to have thriving shops.
Here Tacoma has the legal ability to sell a product that sells itself – where doctors can write prescriptions for pain relief and send them to the dispensary instead of to the pharmacy. Where business owners move in by the droves to set up shop and funnel money into the city. How have the shops not been beneficial – 60 shops have been able to support themselves. Is there something we don’t know?
Mayor Marilyn Strickland decided on Tuesday:
We don’t need 60 stores selling marijuana in Tacoma. At a minimum, 48 of these stores do need to close down permanently.
Interestingly, the mayor is friendlier towards shops with a unionized workforce because she feels,“That would help ease people’s minds about legitimacy.” After 45 days, a second letter will go out ordering suspension of business, giving the owner three days to file an appeal.
Previously, legislature charged the Liquor Control Board – recently renamed Liquor and Cannabis Board – “with deciding which medical marijuana shops and grow operations to legitimize and which ones must close by July 1, 2016.”
Believe it or not, it was some of the council members that kept Tacoma from shutting down all the dispensaries, recognizing a true medical need and benefit. Last year, Newsweek reported that states where medical marijuana was legal saw a 25% drop in deaths from painkillers.
According to The News Tribune:
Stores that had locations before Jan. 1, 2013, that have maintained a business license since July 2014, and have a history of paying state taxes and fees could remain open at least until the state makes its licensing decisions.
City Attorney Elizabeth Pauli said of the shops the city knows about, 19 have filed for a state business license and paid some taxes, and 10 businesses have been in operation since before 2013.
Some shop owners try to assure themselves that they will remain open after the purge because they pay taxes – but find it nearly impossible to get a straight answer about regulation and expectations. One is disappointed that a number of shops went the “party stereotype” route, did not follow basic policies, opened up next to schools, churches and parks, and forgot about the goal of providing medical cannabis. It appears that those actions allowed a foot in door for code enforcers after there were alleged nuisance complaints.
Still, shouldn’t there be some kind of better compromise? After all, those complaints are out of the control and fault of patients. Such extreme anti-shop attitudes also punishes benevolent business owners. Last December, the city moved to send cease-and-desist letters but cooled it after they were met with much protest.
What do you think of Tacoma’s new move to shut down most of the dispensaries – is it solving a legitimate problem and in the best interest of residents? Or, is it bureaucratic and fueled by some other political reason? Please comment below – we’d love to hear Washington residents weigh in about the situation.