City of Seattle to Medical Marijuana Dealers: Get a License or Shut Down

Ellis Conklin, Seattle Weekly

The city of Seattle has sent out cease and desist letters to more than 300 medical marijuana outlets, demanding that businesses engaged in “major marijuana activity” -- involving more than 45 plants or 72 ounces of dried marijuana -- obtain a license from the Washington State Liquor Control Board. If they do not, they will be shut down by July 1, 2015.

“If you began operating after Nov. 16, 2013 and do not have state issued license, you are in violation of City law and can be subjected to enforcement action,” the Oct. 16 letter reads.

Medical advocacy groups, such as American for Safe Access, are not happy with the dictate and say that patients are concerned that the cease and desist orders are part of a coordinated plan to shut down much-needed businesses and dismantle Washington’s 16-year old medical marijuana law.

“Patients are counting on these businesses to provide the medicine that they need,” said Kari Boiter, Washington State Coordinator with Americans for Safe Access. “It’s inconceivable that the City of Seattle would issue an ultimatum, affecting thousands of sick and vulnerable residents, without offering any reasonable alternative. “Forcing patients to rely on an ill-prepared and inadequate adult-use market is an abysmal public health policy.”

According to city records, nearly 5 percent of Seattle residents are medical marijuana patients, an estimated 25,000 people.

“Countless patients who rely on my services will have nowhere to go if my shop is shut down,” said Karl Keich, owner of the Seattle Medical Marijuana Association.

In 2011, the state legislature created a regulatory framework for medical marijuana businesses that many patients favored. However, after being threatened with federal enforcement by the U.S Department of Justice, former Gov. Chris Gregoire vetoed some provisions of the law. The DOG then issued guidelines two years later, in August 2013, urging the state to adopt strict medical marijuana regulations.