An unlicensed Vashon medical marijuana shop is still operating on the island’s main highway more than a month after dispensaries without proper licensing were closed across the state.
Island Cure, on the south end of Vashon in the 17900 block of Vashon Highway SW, has been operating past July 1, which was the deadline for folding Washington’s medical marijuana market into the state’s tightly regulated retail cannabis system.
A bright neon “open” sign above a three-foot-high green cross marks the building. Two other signs advertised the business along the street. A search Wednesday for licensed retail marijuana shop locations on the state’s Liquor and Cannabis Board website showed only one unused, non-activated license for a different business on the island.
Island Cure owner Kevin Bergin’s reason for staying open is simple. “Nobody told me to shut it down,” Bergin said Tuesday. He said he never received any letters or verbal instructions to stop running his business. “Then when I asked a cop two days before (July 1), he goes ‘What for?’ ” Bergin said. King County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Cindi West said it wasn’t her department’s responsibility to initiate enforcement. “We might enforce a grow operation at a house, but not in a business,” she said. The situation would be different in Pierce County. “We would work the case, serve a search warrant and send the case to the prosecutor,” Pierce County Sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the state Liquor and Cannabis Board works only with licensed marijuana shops. Because Bergin’s operation is unlicensed, it’s not their responsibility, said department spokesman Brian Smith. However, agents from LCB would accompany law enforcement on a dispensary shutdown if requested. “We would offer our assistance if needed,” Smith said. “We have the authorization to seize all the products,” after first verifying the store is not licensed and its products are not in the registered supply chain.
The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office is looking into Island Cure’s situation. Spokesman Dan Donohoe said Wednesday that his office has closed more than 15 stores in unincorporated King County through the threat of civil action. “That is something we could pursue with any other unlicensed stores,” Donohoe said.
The situation has been different in other counties. On July 25, the Thurston County Narcotics Task Force seized marijuana, edibles, candies, creams and growing marijuana plants from Sonshine Organics Network in Olympia. Joe Hyer, a spokesman for Sonshine, said that dispensaries should have been given 90 days to shut down after July 1. That would have given time for businesses and patients to better transition to medically endorsed recreational stores with a more complete product selection for patients. “Those dispensaries that bled down their inventory before July 1 were doing a disservice to their patients,” Hyer said. He supports Island Cure’s continued operation.
Pierce County sheriff’s deputies shut down an unlicensed marijuana dispensary July 6 that had continued to operate in close proximity to the sheriff’s Parkland Spanaway detachment headquarters. Deputies served a warrant on the Green Organics store, seizing marijuana products and paraphernalia and arresting the owner on suspicion of illegal sale of marijuana and selling marijuana to a minor.
Meanwhile, Island Cure continues to sell marijuana. “There’s people out here who need it,” Bergin said.
SONshine Organics, a small family owned non-profit dispensary in Olympia Washington was raided this week with cash and products seized by the Thurston County Sheriff. No one has been arrested (yet), but the Thurston County Prosecutor will make a final decision regarding charges in the future. Sonshine stated:
“Medical MMJ patients we continue to fight for your rights! We know YOU ARE REAL PATIENTS and also FARMERS who GROW WITH LOVE ~ all organic ~ WHERE IS THE PATH?? THESE FARMERS will always have OVERAGE, they are good at what they do ~ they want to HEAL themselves and others!!!!! ~ WE NEED A PATH! A GREEN MARKET NOT a black market!!”
Congratulations State of Washington on potentially destroying a family and ruining their livelihood, all because they didn’t receive a new i502 license – which most dispensaries either couldn’t afford to apply for, were not granted because of the WSLCB’s corrupt licensing practices, or decided not to apply for because they disagreed with i502’s principles and the WSLCB’s bureaucracy. Congratulations State of Washington for forcing small family owned businesses to close. Congratulations State of Washington for harming patients who genuinely need non profitable products and cannot afford the 37% excise tax that patients are now forced to pay in order to purchase legal medicine.
Medical marijuana has been legal in the State of Washington since the late 1990s. Dispensaries have been safely growing and producing cannabis medicines for two decades while successfully self-regulating. The State of Washington has created an over-arching bureaucracy and is treating a beneficial plant like it’s plutonium, when in reality cannabis is a plant which is LESS DANGEROUS than alcohol, LESS HARMFUL than prescription drugs, and can decontaminate toxic land.
Toke Signals reports:
“Sonshine Organics, a medical marijuana collective in Olympia, Washington, was raided by county law enforcement officials on Tuesday, July 26. Sonshine owner Sarena Haskins confirmed on Facebook early Tuesday afternoon that the raid was underway. “RAIDED ~ STOLE ALL our Cash HONEY high CBD strain meds!” Haskins, who has for years been a stalwart on the Washington medical marijuana scene, posted. “WE NEED TO FIGURE THIS SHIT OUT!!! WRONG ON SO MANY LEVELS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!””
If you have a comment on today’s RAID activities feel free to comment to the Judge responsible for the warrant, Mr. Lack at 360-709-3201,” Haskins posted. “Also calls need to go to sheriff, county commissioners, LCB, all of them if possible!”
“Now going to have to tell a parent NO capsules for your son who has seizures!!???” Haskins posted. “SAD world!” Douglas Hiatt, a lawyer representing Sonshine Organics, said deputies confiscated bags full of marijuana meant for patients, reports Drew Mikkelsen at KING-5 News.
Thurston County Sheriff John Snaza claimed Sonshine was the only unlicensed medical marijuana dispensary in the county that hadn’t closed by July 1, the date the state’s dispensaries were shut down by SB 5052, which in an act of cruel irony is called the “Cannabis Patient Protection Act.”
The county prosecutor will determine if anyone will face charges, according to the sheriff’s office. A press release from the sheriff’s office reads as follows:
On today’s date, the Thurston County Narcotics Task Force executed a search warrant at 7707 Martin Way S.E., Olympia, Washington, the home of Sonshine Organics Network. This business was operating as an unlicensed Medical Marijuana Dispensary selling black market marijuana and products. These products were not produced, received or sold in compliance with current Washington State Law. On July 1, 2016, Washington State Law changed as it pertains to licensed Medical Marijuana Dispensaries allowing for the sale of Medical Marijuana only at stores licensed by the Liquor and Cannabis Board for the State of Washington. Prior to July 1, 2016, Sheriff John Snaza personally served a letter, drafted by the Thurston County Prosecutor’s Office, to all known unlicensed Medical Marijuana Dispensaries in Thurston County. The letter warned the dispensary operations of the new law and further that violations would not be tolerated. Detectives from the Thurston County Narcotics Task Force conducted an investigation and discovered that Sonshine Organics Network was in violation of the new law. They continued to operate without a license after receiving warnings from Sheriff Snaza and the Liquor and Cannabis Board. Upon the execution of the search warrant, detectives contacted two store employees who were cooperative. The employees were interviewed and released. As a result of the search warrants, detectives seized large quantities of marijuana to include: processed marijuana, edibles, candies, creams, and growing marijuana plants. No one has been arrested. The investigation is on-going and the case will be referred to the Thurston County Prosecutor for consideration of charges. There is nothing further at this time. Investigation continues.”
Coverage from King5 news DIRECTLY CONTRADICTS THE SHERIFF’S PRESS RELEASE which stated that:
“the Sheriff warned the dispensary to shut down on July 1st with King5 reporting that Before the July 1 deadline, Snaza told the owners he would give them time to transition out of business. Hiatt said they expected to have more time.”
A Spanaway dispensary was also raided on July 6th.
About SONshine Organics, a small family owned non-profit medical marijuana dispensary.
Unhappy about this turn of events? Please contact your state lawmakers, Governer Inslee and the Thurston County Prosecutor and Sheriff, and call Judge Lack, who signed the warrant authorizing the Sonshine raid at 360-709-3201.
CourtroomNews reports “Doctor and Patient Fight Washington Pot Law”:
A doctor and patient claim Washington’s new medical marijuana regulations merging the industry with recreational pot markets violate their right to doctor-patient confidentiality.
The law, which requires existing dispensaries to operate from a licensed retail pot shop and reduce patient possession amounts, will go in effect July 1.
Dr. Gregory Carter and his patient Eric Mevis sued the state in Federal Court last week, saying the new rules are unconstitutional and violate the First Amendment rights of physicians and patients.
Doctors are forced to violate federal law and patients are required to incriminate themselves under the new law, according to the complaint.
“This action seeks a declaration that physicians and patients have the right, protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, to communicate in the context of a bona fide physician-patient relationship, without intervention by the defendants, about the issue of marijuana as medicine,” the lawsuit states.
The new law, known as the Cannabis Patient Protection Act, uses regulations in place for recreational pot use and adopts them for medical marijuana.
Patient possession limits will be significantly reduced from 24 ounces to three ounces, and the number of plants a patient can grow is down from 15 to six. All medical marijuana dispensaries will also be forced to operate from a licensed retail pot shop or close.
Carter is currently a medical director for a Spokane rehabilitation hospital. Mevis suffers from an incurable neurodegenerative disorder and uses medical marijuana for palliative care.
They say the new regulations will also force them to give up doctor-patient privacy.
“Now as a precondition to either arrest protection or in the alternative the right to assert the affirmative defense, the act now requires that the physician affirmatively prescribe the amount of marijuana that the patient needs. The form requires the physician to divulge the medical condition of the patient, that the patient is forced to reveal to non-health care professional that works at a marijuana retail outlet store, with an endorsement at a marijuana retail outlet store,” the complaint states. “The requirement that the form be used and a non-medical third party participate in the process impermissibly infringes on the doctor patient relationship.”
Marijuana retailers are not authorized by the Food and Drug Administration or the Drug Enforcement Administration to dispense a schedule I controlled substance, according to the lawsuit.
Carter and Mevis say the new system will require them to break federal law.
Carter also claims the regulations interfere with his ability to properly treat patients by “arbitrarily” setting marijuana limits.
“Dr. Carter would need to state the amount on the authorization form for plaintiff Mevis which would exceed the non-scientific standard that only allows for 15 plants, arbitrarily set by the legislature,” the complaint states. “This simply is not enough marijuana to treat his illness. If plaintiff Mevis does not register his authorization, he will only be entitled to possess the same amount of legal marijuana afforded under the State’s recreational law, and be able to grow 4 marijuana plants. He will only be entitled to assert an affirmative defense and not receive arrest protection.”
Mevis says he will have to disclose possibly incriminating and private medical information to receive a required identification card for marijuana access.
“By enacting the Cannabis Patient Protection Act, the legislature codified its desire to interfere with a physician’s ability to practice medicine without fear of punishment, or be denied any right or privilege, for having recommended marijuana to a patient for medical purposes,” the lawsuit states. “By enacting the Cannabis Patient Protection Act, the legislature codified its desire to ensure that all seriously ill Washington residents are forced to participate in a state sanctioned database or face criminal sanctions.”
Carter and Mevis want an injunction preventing the bill from taking effect until the court can decide on constitutionality. They are represented by Douglas Hiatt in Seattle.
Gov. Jay Inslee said in a statement that before passage of the bill, Washington’s medical marijuana industry had been “completely unregulated.”
Sign the petition today: Extend the July 1st Deadline for Medical Cannabis in WA State
To the Honorable Governor of Washington State,
Washington State passed ill advised legislation on cannabis for medical patients in the 2015 legislative session, SB 5052. No fix was passed for the 2016 session. As of July 1, 2016, patients will be left with no legitimate access to the quantities, types and quality control we have had since the passage of our medical laws back in 1998.
15 plants and 24 ounces will be reduced to an arbitrarily derived number of 4 plants, 6 ounces per patient, with no more than a total of 15 plants per household, regardless of the number of patients living there. That is a huge reduction, especially for patients that juice raw cannabis or use concentrates.
Collective gardens of up to 10 patients sharing resource will be criminalized. Storefronts that existed under the medical laws are being forced to get 1-502 licenses or shut down, no longer able to bring the selected strains patients have come to rely on over the years.
There is no way for patients to legally access seeds or clones making 5052 unconstitutional and a patient unable to comply with the current law making 5052 unenforceable. The reason why is simple: forcing people to buy their cannabis from I-502 businesses that charge a 37.5% sin tax.
Patients who require larger amounts will be forced to register. In February 2016, the Department of Health stated that there will not be medical grade cannabis products in their shops to meet the deadline. No serious quality control testing had been implemented for pesticides, nor have any of the proposed pesticides been tested for when smoked, vaporized or used in extracts. And the needs of patients who are not able to tolerate even trace amounts of chemicals and pesticides will not be met.
There are no clear HIPPA controls in place on the state registry, with a large list of business and government agencies that have access to it.
THE STATE IS NOT READY OR ABLE TO MEET THE NEEDS OF PATIENTS!
Do the leaders of this state really want to cause more suffering to the disabled, our veterans, our children and their families? With just these issues alone, not to mention the ongoing legal problems with the WSLCB in the courts, we the people of Washington State, on behalf of the patients, do petition you, Governor Jay Inslee, to take measures into your own hands and protect the life, health, safety and well being of your fellow citizens by extending the July 1, 2016 Medical Cannabis deadline for one year, by any and all means at your disposal, including: Signing an Executive Order OR Calling an Emergency Special Session for the Legislators to act. The most vulnerable in our state need access the the forms, amounts and varieties. Their lives depend on it. Especially those who require the larger amounts and will never be able to afford current I-502 prices, especially after the increased costs associated with the medical grade products.
Please consider the State’s liability if patients don’t have access or get sick from contaminated products by not being prepared.
Sincerely, The Patients, their Supporters and Registered Voters of Washington State
Sign the petition today: Extend the July 1st Deadline for Medical Cannabis in WA State
NEW PEOPLE’S INITIATIVE FROM The People For Medical Cannabis in Washington State! Stay tuned for an official press release, information about how to financially support the signature gathering efforts and how to get copies to gather your own signatures – all coming soon. Stay tuned to this page for updates.
The Washington State Cannabis Patient Reform Act I-1419
This year’s initiative, the Washington State Cannabis Patient Reform Act I-1419, is now allowed to gather signatures for a November ballot. Delays with the Elections Division, so petitions are being printed now. Compassionate Use Washington is the grassroots campaign running I-1419 to the 2016 ballot. A Paypal account is being set up for those wanting to pay the shipping of petitions, and contributing to the campaign. The press release announcing I-1419 is being worked on, and will be released soon.
Ballot Title: Initiative Measure No. 1419 concerns marijuana, also called cannabis.
This measure would create boards regulating cannabis production and sales; set fees and tax exemptions; allow unlicensed collective gardens; release offenders incarcerated for non-violent, cannabis-related crimes; and adopt or repeal other cannabis-related laws.
Should this measure be enacted into law? Yes [ ] No [ ]
Ballot Measure Summary: This measure would create a board to license and regulate medical-cannabis producers and dispensers; create a board to govern the recreational use market; release offenders incarcerated for non-violent cannabis crimes; create tax exemptions and impose fees; allow unlicensed collective cannabis gardens; address medical-cannabis use by minors; limit use of THC blood-concentration evidence; prohibit certain drug testing for marijuana byproducts; prohibit assistance with certain federal investigations; add criminal defenses; and adopt or repeal other cannabis-related laws.
· Permits the legal private consumption of cannabis by adults of 21 years old or older, and medical patients.
· Challenges the Scheduling classification of Cannabis as a Schedule 1 Narcotic
· Protects Employee’s from job loss prohibiting cannabis from being tested as an illicit substance, only if it is not specifically stated differently in the employment contract.
· Protects organ transplant patients from cannabis consumption being the sole disqualifying factor for transplant eligibility.
· Removed non-violent cannabis offenses from person(s) criminal record, and releases incarcerated non-violent cannabis inmates. No victim no crime.
· Creates a Recreational Cannabis board replacing the Liquor Control Board’s involvement with cannabis, required to engage in the lawful process of open meetings to consider Public input as an agency representation for the public and by the public.
· Drops Recreational Cannabis taxes per tier to a maximum of 10% per producer, processor, and retailer. The Board is direct to examine the 37% excise tax, and provide a product that is price competitive to eliminate the criminal market.
· Creates a medical board to oversee medical cannabis specific issues, responsible for evaluating all angles of patient health, protection and over all well being.
· Removes Medical Cannabis Patient Registry until Federal Rescheduling.
· Restores private patient gardens with permitted possession of original DOH standard 60 day supply of 100 sq ft plant canopy and 35 ounces per patient.
· Legal 6 home grows for adults 21 years old or older, with the board directed to increase possession limits.
· Established Arrest protections and an affirmative defense for Medical Cannabis Patient’s, Providers, and HealthCare Professionals who recommend cannabis.
· Establishes access and protection for Cannabis Refugees.
· Medical Cannabis protection of property forfeitures and seizures of.
· Protects Local Banks to allow “green friendly” accounts.
· Requires video impairment for cannabis related DUID’s
· Requires the protection of the AG to vigorously defend this initiative as the will of the People.
EXCELLENT NEWS! AP/Seattle Times reports “Medical-pot shops sue state, call licensing process ‘a mess’“:
Several Seattle medical marijuana businesses have sued the state Liquor and Cannabis Board, alleging that regulators are not following rules in issuing new licenses for retail stores.
Several longtime Seattle medical-marijuana businesses filed a lawsuit Friday against the state Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) alleging that regulators are not following their own rules in issuing a new round of licenses for retail stores.
At issue is the process of bringing medical businesses into the state’s licensed recreational retail system. The Legislature last year gave the LCB authority to license new stores, with priority given to longtime medical players seen as good actors, in following rules and paying taxes.
The lawsuit filed in Thurston County Superior Court by medical-marijuana activists John Davis, Philip Dawdy, Ken Adams and others contends that the LCB has not used a merit-based system to award new licenses.
Instead of licensing longtime operators, the lawsuit says the LCB is giving licenses to businesses that did not exist months ago. “The entire process is a mess,” Davis said in a statement. “I am watching phantom entities gobble up scarce licenses that will put real people out of business.”
An LCB spokesman said agency officials don’t comment on lawsuits.
One underlying problem, according to Friday’s complaint, is the priority system the LCB created to license new applicants and meet the Legislature’s mandate to shut down unlicensed medical-marijuana operations by July.
State law gives top priority to applicants who applied for state recreational licenses before July 2014, who were operating or employed by collectives before 2013, had a business license and history of paying applicable state taxes and fees.
The lawsuit says applicants have “cobbled” together teams that combine former collective employees with nonmedical entrepreneurs. Called “Frankenstein” applicants by some, these cobbled groups should not get licensing priority over longtime collectives, the lawsuit says, but apparently are.
While many cobbled groups have merit, it is contrary to the Legislature’s intent to license them to the detriment of existing collectives, the lawsuit says.
Other complaints in the suit allege that the state’s method for capping the number of retail licenses is flawed, and that the LCB’s requirement that applicants have a zero tax balance, instead of a “history of paying all applicable state taxes and fees,” is unfair. Applicants on a payment plan with the state or appealing state charges should not be penalized, the lawsuit argues.
The lawsuit by the Spencer Palace Law firm of Everett seeks an order for the LCB to remedy the problem.
A similar lawsuit was filed Thursday by attorney Elizabeth Hallock on behalf of Seattle’s Choice Wellness.
The upshot of the state’s licensing plan is that Seattle’s total number of retail stores will double from an initial 2014 allotment of 21 to 42. But 48 medical storefronts met the city’s regulatory standards as good players in a culling process last year. It appears some will not receive retail licenses in Seattle.