It’s the new age of marijuana sales on the West Coast — the age of recreational, regulated commerce. And the change is upending the old way of doing business which was, until recently in Oregon and Washington, to operate medical marijuana dispensaries generally within set guidelines and hope for the best.
Though the market was not secure, and businesses were always susceptible to closures and raids, dispensaries did not have to deal with headaches like sales tax or strict regulation. But recreational sales, which came to Washington in 2012 and Oregon last month, bring the cannabusiness into the system. The new pot shops have to cross and dot all their T’s and I’s, but if they do, then they probably won’t get closed.
But businesses who are sticking to the old informal way of doing things are now being dealt with, especially in the Seattle area, where King County prosecutor Dan Satterberg has created an initiative an initiative to once and for all close down all untaxed, unregulated medical dispensaries, forcing patients to go to recreational pot shops (where they will pay a 37% sales tax) or the black market.
“The only legal way to sell marijuana is to have a state-issued license,” said Satterberg, who is giving collectives just one month to close down or face product seizures and forced closures. 15 specific area dispensaries will be affected. In the next year, all collectives in the state will have to acquire recreational state cannabis licenses or face the same fate.
“There is no more tolerance for illegal, unlicensed marijuana stores,” Satterberg told Q13 News. “If you support legal marijuana, you should support the licensed stores and you should not support the illegal black market retail stores that are everywhere.”
The massive shutdown of dispensaries does not just mean massive change for medical marijuana patients and caregivers in Washington. It is possibly the shape of things to come in states like California, where the move to regulated recreational marijuana is all but a foregone conclusion.
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