The medical marijuana laws in the state of Washington have been changed, forcing Ed Murray, the mayor of Seattle, to initiate plans that will close over 50 dispensaries within city limits. To stay in operation, a new business license will be required for dispensaries to remain in business. It will be handled kind of like pawn shops and taxi operators, in that there will be an undisclosed limit to the number of licenses available.

Why the concern about medical marijuana storefronts? According to city officials, the unregulated and unlicensed competition in the city is causing youth to access marijuana and others to consume too much of it. There is also a need for Seattle to move their policies to comply with laws recently signed by Governor Jay Inslee.

The problem is that Mayor Murray’s plan to offer licenses is the same plan that the state of Washington initiated for their recreational providers of marijuana. Preference is being given to dispensaries that were in operation before 2013. Only 45 of the 99 storefronts meet that qualification. Some that began after 2013 have been operating without a city business license.

What does this mean? If a medical marijuana storefront receives a state business license to operate, but does not receive a city business license, they will be considered an illegal business. The Mayor’s office told King 5 News that businesses which don’t get this special city license will need to shut down.

The deadline to obtain the special city business license is currently July 2016.