Fifteen unlicensed medical dispensaries in unincorporated King County are on notice that they are in violation of the law.
King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg and Sheriff John Urquhart states this past Wednesday that they are tightening up these dispensaries after Washington lawmakers amended Initiative 502 to obtain licenses for all marijuana dispensaries.
The law that was amended brought medical marijuana into the state licensing and tax scheme, Satterberg stated. Dispensaries were notified by mail, and if they remain operating business as an unlicensed retail outlet for the black market, they will face civil and criminal repercussions, Satterberg stated.
Voters in Washington adopted Initiative 502 back in 2012, needing the state to develop a system for the licensed production, processing and generating revenue from marijuana. The Legislature recently chugged that law to bring medical cannabis into the system and eliminate “collective gardens,” he said.
That means only licensed operations can distribute marijuana for a profit, he stated.
“It’s not fair for those stores that are doing it right and having to compete with the unlicensed stores that don’t have to pay the 37 percent tax,” Satterberg stated. There was one licensed dispensary in the White Center neighborhood where Satterberg held a meeting with Urquhart, and it must be in competition with a fair amount of unlicensed dispensaries, he stated.
“The state has set forth the rules,” he stated, and if the dispensaries do not obtain a license through the state Liquor and Cannabis Board, “they must immediately close down.”
The 15 store locations that received notices involve seven in the White Center area, two in Skyway and six in the eastern region of the county.
“They are taking tax money from the state and operating in locations that would never be approved by the LCB,” he said. “They are a blight on the neighborhoods they inhabit.”
Satterberg stated that the federal government in viewing how Washington regulates the cannabis industry, and the successful progress of law which leans on how well jurisdictions deal with the unlicensed retail dispensaries.
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