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Seattle Sends Warning Letters To 330 Marijuana Businesses


seattle washington marijuana cannabis cup high timesIt could be the end of medical marijuana dispensaries in Seattle, Washington. A letter, dated in September, was recently sent out to roughly 330 medical marijuana businesses in the Seattle area telling them to either get a license to operate, or close. One of the licenses that the letter is calling for is a state license. The sad irony being that the state won’t issue licenses to those businesses because there aren’t any to issue. It has been a long time coming for these businesses, many of which fought a patient registry system in Washington (among other regulations), which is required to start issuing licenses for those businesses.

I’m sure many of these companies will blame recreational marijuana legalization. Either way you look at it, it’s a sad day for safe access in Washington. Below is a summary excerpt of the letter, per Seattle PI:

Seattle also has regulations specific to “major marijuana activity,” which includes all activity that involves more than 45 marijuana plants or 72 ounces of useable marijuana.

Major marijuana activity is prohibited in certain zones. It is also prohibited everywhere in Seattle without a license issued by the Washington State Liquor Control Board (LCB).

Businesses that have been conducting major marijuana activity since before November 16, 2013 have until July 1, 2015 (or January 1, 2016, depending on action by the state legislature), to either: (1) obtain a state-issued license or (2) stop conducting major marijuana activity.

Any new (i.e., commencing on or after November 16,2013) major marijuana activity in Seattle must have a state license. If you began operating after November 16, 2013 and do not have a state issued license, you are in violation of City law and can be subject to enforcement action.

You can read the entire letter at this link here, which I encourage everyone to do. Hopefully the Washington Legislature can get a meaningful bill passed soon to help fix this mess.


About Author

Johnny Green


  1. John,
    After reading the views expressed in this forum, you’ve left very little room for assumption regarding your personal insight.

    Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.

    PS.- Are you sure you aren’t taking heavy doses of some type of Opiate? Popping pills perhaps?

  2. I know this article and comments are older but I am having a hard time finding something and hope someone here will know. I am looking for the “NAME” of the Seattle GMO Cannabis company. All I can find are people saying that Soros and fellas from Microsoft are starting one. With all the legalization and such…..(not to mention, the residue heavily sticking to the sides of my bowls) I want to know the name so I can study them and make others aware of them.

  3. Dont you get it? Medical marijuana exists only to usher in legal marijuana. Now that washington state has legalized rec. weed, there’s no reason for medical. Except of course for the lazy old disease-ridden failures who are better off dead anyway. Get used to it.

  4. Well, you’re at least right about one thing. Everyone has the right to make themselves look like a total idiot. Of course that doesn’t mean that you have to exercise that right.

  5. Yo, Steve,

    I’m sorry if I displayed what appeared to be apathy toward people who are ill or in pain and find marijuana to provide relief and hope in their lives. I support the total legality of both medical and recreational pot. I’m not a cop, nor am I a supporter of “big pharmaceutical”. I have been a heavy pot smoker for 45 years. I think part of my frustration lies in the fact that weed has become way more than a medication. When I pass 4 “green clinics” in a mile, I realize pot is becoming a “cure-all” for just about every symptom. I think those who find relief from pot should have affordable access and those (like me) who love to get high should also have legal pot available. This doesn’t mean it should be promoted as a healthy habit. I have tried on so many occasions to quit and its the most difficult drug I have ever tried to quit. I experience numerous detox symptoms including weeks of viscous anxiety during detox (anxiety is not like coffee jitters. It can be a life threatening agony and when combined with depression, can completely destroy a life)
    I sweat buckets for over a month, severe insomnia, horrible headaches, intense shakes, anger, nausea, hopelessness and complex, vivid, horrifying stressful nightmares that have plagued me for months after quitting. When someone tells me I’m full of crap, I’m lying, none of this is detox related, I’m an exception (this affects 8 – 10% of heavy pot users- all one must do is check the internet to hear the thousands confessions and posts). It angers me when some fool tells me how much harder it is to detox from alcohol and cigarettes, or, shockingly sugar and coffee. I smoked cigarettes heavily for 30 years, and when I finally quit, the only detox I experienced was minor depression and cravings. Nicotine gum helped, but I had very minor withdrawals when I stopped the gum.

    If you think I’m making this stuff up then I consider that beyond offensive and it breaks my heart.

    Also, 1-3 puffs of reasonably strong pot will deliver the desired effect, so why the heck would a patient need to smoke 1-2 grams a day or more if the effect lasts a few hours? Your absolutely right if you say most people dont suffer much when quitting pot, or trying to stop temporarily,
    But to accuse those who suffer of being agents of the drug war, fakers, pitiful weaklings, or claim these monstrous detox symptoms exist naturally and pot will “cure them all”, is like saying coffee is a cure for tiredness, heroin is great for curing heroin detox.

    In conclusion, I love to smoke weed as most of my friends do, and I am not out trying to spread reefer madness nonsense, nor do I desire to deprive patients of their pot. There’s nothing I could do, even if I wanted to, to keep people from opening new mmj shops.

    But I say what I want and have a right to do so.

    Coffee doesn’t blast the mind with euphoric bliss so dont compare it to pot.

    I rest my case.


  6. So, in your sage opinion, “there are too many medical pot businesses”? Are there too many Starbucks too? The way the free market works is that when there are too many of ANY type of business, some of them start going broke. Isn’t that the way it’s SUPPOSED to work?

    You stated: “90% of patients are just people who want to get high”. Mr. Smith, you are simply regurgitating the lie being spread by the law enforcement lobby. Are you a cop? Do you have any proof that supports this ridiculous statement?

    If they close all these shops, many patients will die….it’s just that simple.

  7. I’m a supporter of legal marijuana, but there are too many medical pot businesses. The reason has nothing to do with compassion. It has everything to do with making a buck. Medical shops keep popping up everywhere because people see they can make lots of money. 90% of patients are just people who want to get high. When these medical shops are closed, 1000’s of people will face a world of detox hell. Good luck with that and stop assuming the public are idiots.

  8. stellarvoyager on

    I didn’t say it is perfect, just one of the best in the country. Compared to programs such as they have in NJ or NY or IL, or “CBD only” states, or for that matter basically everywhere else except for California and maybe Colorado, it’s much better. And the confidentiality provision may not protect people from the feds, but it does protect them from nosy employers, landlords, etc. Not ideal, but better than lots of other places.

    NJ only has 3 dispensaries in the entire state, and no home grows, and few people can qualify. Illinois is just a “pilot program” with very limited scope, and we all know about NY. Most states have no home grow provisions at all. Many states require 3 different doctor’s visits and charge astronomical fees, compared to the $250 per year (if I recall correctly) for Oregon, and one doctor’s visit. And at least our legislature has been working to improve the program rather than undermine it as they are in Washington.

  9. Actually, you’re incorrect. The Oregon registry is only protected under state law. In fact, the “confidential” Oregon registry has been breached by the Feds several times and patient records were turned over to them. There is no such thing as a “confidential registry”. When you say that the registry is “affordable”, how much is affordable, including the doctor’s visit since?

  10. stellarvoyager on

    Oregon’s medical marijuana program is one of the best in the country, IMO. It’s fairly affordable, 6 plant grow limit, 22 oz possession limit, or go through a dispensary. You could also designate a caregiver to grow your herb for you. You do have to register with the state every year, though, but there are lots of qualifying conditions and the patient registry is kept confidential by law.

  11. This coming session we’ll be passing bills that will give patients in Washington MORE rights….not less! We’ll also have a bill that will remove cannabis from the State Controlled Substances Act. We aren’t going to reschedule it to another schedule, as Oregon has done, we are going to remove it altogether. We are then going to file in Federal Court against the Dept. of Health and Human Services to force them to apply the Schedule 1 test on a Federal basis. If they are forced to do that, they MUST remove it from Schedule one….and Berlin Wall that has been stopping legalization will begin to crumble.

    We are also going to try to:
    Eliminate “Civil Forfeiture”….otherwise known as “Policing for Profit”.
    We will outlaw GMO cannabis in Washington
    We will pass new regulations for the medical industry and place medical under the Department of Agriculture…where plants belong.
    And another six bills

    We have enough votes to save medical cannabis when they take another run at us next session. They will not have the votes to throw us under the Liquor Board or to force us to buy from the recreational stores at outrageous prices. They be able to pass a registry or kill medical next session.

  12. Seattle has more flower and the best flower a person could ask for. Moved there for 3 months from cleveland and it was amazing. I see this is kinda old but just to say it’s now 2014 and the green biz is booming from what everyone told me.

  13. I’m sure you’re not just making it up. Fairly soon this is going to be resolved one way or another. That said, I’m not now encouraged, as I once was that Washington’s politicians would consider the needs of it’s sick medical patients while working on their up their current for profit rec.scheme, especially now that they’ve seen the “take” from just a few of their recreational tourist traps; I’m looking for a state where I can buy the medicine I need legally so I can remain off prescription drugs. I’m flying down to Las Vega’s next week to check out their new dispensaries. I need to determine if they will work out. Then all I can do is hope that Nevada doesn’t also rush into legalizing recreational marijuana, while disregarding it’s medical patients in order to turn more profit destroying legal medical marijuana…

  14. I remember reading last year that a review is scheduled for the Washington state liquor control board to determine on whether or not to continue to allow medical home growers in WA the legal right to continue their home medical grows in 2019.That’s a long way off and I think WA officials are going to have to ease off.When Oregon’s upcoming recreational bill passes and an ounce ends up being around $150, that’s going to radically be felt by the WA area dispensaries all over the state as WA residents travel south to get their herb and WA cops won’t be able to do a thing about it. Also , when more WA dispensaries start folding up from the competition in Oregon, it’s going to increase the black market in WA. I don’t even know why WA officials call I-502 recreational legalization because home growing is only legal if the grower has had a doctor sign off on it. In Oregon, the bill that is being pushed there will allow 4 plants to be grown , which is better than nothing but still more than what I-502 allows which is ZERO. I don’t know how cops and prosecutors are dealing with WA home growers, but here in Colorado where I’m at, the cops and prosecutors are leaving herb users alone. I think WA officials are going to see their effed up half-ass legalization bill come back to bite them immediately after Oregon passes their upcoming recreational bill.Fighting for the legal right to recreationally grow should be the biggest agenda for WA herb users.

  15. I remember former Gov. Gregoire’s veto. I heard that she had her eye on a position within the Obama administration. Therefore, at the time I considered her veto as nothing more than an act of pure self-serving political cowardice. Again, I really don’t want to have to move to Nevada because Washington legalized recreational marijuana, however, I can’t grow any longer due to mobility issues. I absolutely refuse to buy medicine from what are nothing more than over-priced recreational tourist traps. What I need is safe access to legal medical marijuana. Having legal recreational marijuana doesn’t help my situation at all. I could go back to taking huge dosages of opiate pain reliever’s. However,. I want to do avoid having to do that. Anyway, I’m starting to think Washington’s politicians don’t care one bit about what happens to it’s medical patients. To place profits over the needs of medical patients merely in the name of regulation seems immoral. .

  16. Wow great explanation Steve. I now have a much better understanding about the issues confronting medical going-forward. I hope it works out for our medical patients.. The irony would be my having to move to another state where recreational cannabis doesn’t exist and marijuana is only illegal for medical reasons. It looks like Nevada might soon be a candidate. Nevada is currently in the process of opening up new medical marijuana dispensaries. Steve, I hate the idea of moving because recreational marijuana legalization succeeded in destroying Washington’s medical marijuana dispensary system. I’m sure I’m not the only medical patient in Seattle/ Washington considering a possible future move if Washington’s legislature force’s medical patients into their tourist stores, and closes our clearly working, medical dispensaries. I no longer drive automobiles therefore reasonable access is important. Again, thanks.

  17. Actually we would have already had licensing and regulation for medical grows and dispensaries. It was passed by the legislature here (SB5073) and in a dirty deal between the governor, the Federal prosecutor, and the law enforcement lobby, all the sections that would have established the regulations that they are now calling for, were vetoed by the governor. Now they say we have to shut down because WE don’t want regulation and licensing? It was LAW ENFORCEMENT that told the governor exactly which sections of the law that THEY specifically wanted vetoed. Those were the exact sections she removed….which would have give medical grows and dispensaries legal status. The law enforcement lobby said THAT was “unnecessary”. Now that THEY got the regulations vetoed, they insist that we need to be shut down because we AREN’T regulated. Isn’t that a bit self-serving? They made SURE were weren’t licensed and regulated and then scream that we need to be shut down because WE don’t want licensing and regulation.

    By the way, we have the letter from the Washington Association of Sheriff’s and Police Chiefs to the governor requesting that she veto the regulations establishing licensing and regulations for medical. We aren’t just making this up.

  18. They won’t need an extension. We’ll win the Kent case in the Supreme Court here and that will also make Seattle’s ordinance illegal as well. Seattle came up with the idea of an extension because they had hoped that the legislature would have kicked my ass and wiped out medical by now. Now they realize that they have an ordinance that they can’t enforce. They’re pointing an unloaded at us and hoping we don’t know it’s unloaded. Except we do know. Never point an unloaded gun at anyone….it gives them the legal right to shoot you.

  19. First, three states, California (1996), Washington (1998), and Oregon (1998) were the first to legalize medical cannabis. Two out of the three initiatives did NOT have any type of registry. Law enforcement lobby’s across the country have made sure that new states included patient registries in their laws. Not OUR fault. It doesn’t make the “right”, nor does it really “protect” anyone. Having the cops know where you live and where you’re growing, when cannabis is still Federally illegal, and these states are taking Federal bribes in the form of HIDTA grants by signing agreements with the Feds to enforce Federal law over state laws on cannabis, we are putting ourselves in danger with registries.

    The Feds, regardless of what they’ve said in three DOJ memos, is still arresting and prosecuting patients that we completely following state laws. Look at the “Kettle Falls 5” case here in Washington if you don’t believe me. Would those people feel safer knowing that local law enforcement, that doesn’t approve of medical marijuana, can simply turn them over to the Feds if they can’t charge them under state laws?

    We now have a per se DUID law. You can now be convicted of a drug DUI in Washington without the police having to prove that you were the slightest bit impaired. How comfortable are you as a patient when you’re in a state cannabis registry and you know that the cop that’s pulling you over with a broken tail light knows that you’re a medical cannabis patient and all they have to do is get a sample of your blood?

    In Washington they are now set up with a 24/7 phone system for the cops to get a phone warrant to take your blood….at 2am they can get a phone warrant from a judge over the phone and you are SCREWED. I’m an expert witness in these cases so I’m not just making this stuff up….I do it as part of my job every day and patients NEED to be worried about this.

    Even though I have a concealed carry permit, and no criminal record, I was denied the ability to buy a gun because the agency that approves these sales where I live, the King County Sheriff’s department, that issued me my concealed carry permit, notified the Feds (NCIC) that I was a medical cannabis patient. They only knew this because they came to my house when people tried to break into my home. I was the VICTIM of a crime and they reported me, the victim, to the FBI’s national crime insta-check system…..that only tracks criminals. That stopped me from purchasing a gun for a year. If they had a database of patients, we could easily lose our Second Amendment rights! I’m not willing to do that….just because I’m a patient. And don’t tell me that won’t happen….it’s already happening and it’s already happened to ME!

    We still have civll forfeiture laws here in Washington. We now know that 80% of the civil forfeitures in Washington were coming from medical cannabis patients…..like me. I was raid by a total of five drug task forces, had everything I had stolen by them under civil forfeiture, and I was NEVER even arrested, let alone prosecuted. Yes….they can and do get away with this. You can’t afford to fight them and the burden of proof is on YOU, not them. We’ll be trying to pass legislation to stop civil forfeiture in Washington in 2015. This is nothing more than policing for profit.

    I could go on for an hour about all of the constitutional rights, state and federal, and patients rights under HIPAA, and various other rights that you jeopardize with a registry, but the best answer I can give you is that the ONLY PEOPLE pushing for this is the law enforcement lobby and we all know why they want this information, don’t we?

    Why do we need a patient registry to “help keep Washington’s medical dispensaries, strictly medical”? I can do that without patients giving up their rights. That a really bad trade-off and I’m not willing to accept that. Fortunately, the majority of the House of Representatives agrees with me. There WILL NOT be a patient registry in Washington…..not next session….not ever!

    If they want “regulation”….I’ll be giving them regulations. If they want a registry in trade for agreeing to reasonable regulations, their smoking something besides cannabis. If they don’t agree to reasonable regulations, I have enough votes now to stop them from doing much of anything about the regulations, or the registry, that they say they want.

    Think about it….we’re going to pass home growing for recreational users in 2015. So will they demand that only medical users, and NOT recreational users, will have to register? That’s just insanity and they will never sell that argument to the legislature….trust me.

    By the way, we’ve already done a poll on this and I was rather surprised to find that 6% of the patient wouldn’t mind being in a registry. That tells me that they don’t understand the danger of a registry and they think it might protect them. But that’s only 6%. They don’t get to decide for the other 94% who know better already.

    Hopefully this explains the situation here and answers your question, David.

  20. Steve, Most other medical states require some manner of a patient registry as part of being ‘regulated”. I remember well the previous patient acrimony and opposition to this in 2011. As this was well before 502., I’d personally now prefer a statewide registry system implemented, if it would help keep Washington’s medical dispensaries, strictly medical. Many medical patients with whom I frequently speak feel the same..Have you heard much about this ? I’m Just curious. Thanks.

  21. I did a little more research on Washington’s unstable dispensary situation. Here is what I found/ Lawmakers had to decide between the federal concerns of bringing the medical marijuana system under a clear regulatory framework and the concerns patients and caregivers expressed about the legislation offered. Ultimately, the legislature failed to pass a bill, leaving the issue for a future session. The last time the legislature tried to create this structure for the medical marijuana program was back in 2011, but the law was gutted by then-Gov. Christine Gregoire, who vetoed the portions of the law that would have regulated dispensaries and given patients ID cards and protection from arrest. This excerpt was taken from a July 8, 2014 article from The Marijuana Policy Project:http://www.mpp.org/states/washington/

  22. Thanks for the clarification. The cities were given no power under the current law to license or zone for collective gardens. This is what our Supreme Court case against Kent is all about. Seattle did the same thing that Kent did and flagrantly preempted state law by passing an ordinance to control collectives and now they think they can just shut them down. That’s ludicrous and it’s a stupid bluff. No all of them will fight, but a bunch of them will get together and sue….you can count on it. Alison Holcomb, and her trusty side-kick and City Attorney, Pete Holmes, both prime sponsors of I-502, pushed the City Council into passing this ordinance. The same two promised that 502 would not negatively impact medical. Needless to say, they can’t be trusted. Holcomb has announced that she’s planning a political career. She’s running for Seattle City Council. Great….all we need….another lying politician.

    DO NO trust the New Approach people. They have viciously gone after the patient community since the day they got 502 passed.

  23. Seattle’s dispensaries pay city taxes and operate with city business licenses. Therefore, Seattle’s political leaders, should, at some point stand up and support it’s medical marijuana patients. State indecisiveness coupled with a clear lack of political courage created the current dilemma facing Washington’s medical marijuana patients going forward.

  24. Steve, I used the word ‘ruse” in order to answer a related query indicating my agreement with your statement.. The use of the word “yes” again indicated our agreement. BTW, I’m also very much in agreement with your statement that “the last thing we want is to put the dispensaries under the LCB”. Sorry for any confusion. Thank you.

  25. David, if this is a “ruse” by me, please explain it to everyone reading this blog. If you meant something else, please tell us what. I don’t know how “Yes” specifically answers the questions here. I frankly don’t know if you and I agree or disagree :-)

  26. While I certainly won’t attempt to answer the question of whether or not this is a ruse….I’m sure someone else can answer that. But let me try explain what’s happening here. There is no division in the actual patient community. NO ONE wants a registry. NO ONE wants medical to be controlled by the Liquor Control Board and be forced to pay $1,150 an ounce, have no concentrates, not high CBD, edibles with a maximum of 10mg’s and $75 for three cookies!

    Where there IS a conflict is with SOME of the medical dispensaries and growers that are getting into 502 businesses as well. The Governor and the LCB have these 502 businesses owners, some of whom are not that bright, that the only way their businesses can succeed is if medical patients FORCED to buy from the 502 stores and medical dispensaries are shut down. In reality, medical is not their problem. We would NEVER buy from these stores, even if they closed every single dispensary in the state. They have no products that we want, or could ever afford. As cannabis users, we would simply go back underground and become part of the “black market” again. It’s not what we want, but we’d have no choice. Their problem is a combination of the onerous state excise taxes, combined with the federal taxes, and the ever-changing, numerous, and expensive regulations set up by the Liquor Control Board.

    None of those problems are going away in the next year and a half, at the earliest. In the meantime, many are losing their asses and the lucky one’s are just breaking even. But the state has convinced them the WE, the patients, are somehow the problem and they are just buying that bullshit, hook, line and sinker.

    Yes….there is a division, but it’s not between the PATIENTS. It’s between the businesses who want to stay medical and those businesses that want to switch to I-502, thinking they’ll get rich and thinking that they’ll make even more if patients are forced to shop at their stores.

    We’re currently writing 9 new bills, about half of them deal with regulating medical….which the Democratic leadership says they want. In reality, they just want to do away with medical. If I’m wrong about that, they’ll pass the new regulations that we’re proposing. If I’m right, they won’t even give these regulatory bills a hearing….proving that they’re lying about their intentions.

    The good news is, I killed all three of their bills to get rid of medical last year, and I have a LOT more votes in the legislature to save medical this coming session than I did last session. And these legislators understand that you don’t tax medicine! Washington may be the only state that already has a law exempting botanical medications, which covers cannabis.

    The good news is that it looks like we can certainly stop any bad bills. And we can also pass some good bills. The bad news is that we may not be able to pass a good dispensary bill if the Democrats dig in their heals and decide to keep things the way they are, rather than having a separate medical cannabis industry. That wouldn’t be the best outcome, but it’s a LOT better than the alternative. While medical certainly isn’t perfect up here, and we’re trying to make some common sense fixes to it…..IT WORKS right now and patients have a better choice of medications, at lower prices, than anywhere in America. That’s not something we’re willing to give up.

  27. Yes. It appears he is correct. Most of the medical dispensaries in Seattle already operate with city business licenses and pay taxes. This letter appears to have been originally written prior to the last legislative session when the city believed that body would take up the dispensary issue. It did not.do so. An extension is needed and likely until the legislature resumes in 2015

  28. I knew that the medical marijuana community up there was at odds with each other, but didn’t realize their failure to get some consensus to help ensure their survival, with a little back up of law or regulations, would end up like this. Wow. Is SteveSarich right? Is this a ruse?

  29. Most of them have not opened because they have no reliable and steady source of supply, and what there is is VERY expensive. They can’t make any money. The last thing we want is to put the dispensaries under the LCB!

  30. Seattle should revoke the licenses of those who failed to submit completed state business licenses (hundreds of them) after more than 18 months of stalling. Doing so would allow medical dispensaries an opportunity to use them and retain safe access for patinets

  31. I think that everyone needs to buy gas masks, riot gear including shields, batons,and tear gas In Order to “Maintain a Strong Legal State Militia”

  32. Ha, ha, ha…..all bluff, no bite. What “enforcement action” will they take? The King County Prosecutor will NOT prosecute and the ordinance passed by Seattle is clearly illegal. All bluff. I hope no one falls for this BS.

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