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
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.
New legislation has been introduced permitting home growing of up to 6 plants for all in Washington (21+) under HB 2629!
Comment on the bill online: Please comment online on the bill expressing your support.
Change.org petition: Signing this petition will send a letter to every member of Washington’s House of Representatives and Senate, as well as Governor Jay Inslee, urging them to support House Bill 2629.
TheJointBlog.com reports: “Initiative 502, approved by Washington State voters in 2012, legalized the possession of up to an ounce of cannabis in dried form, up to 16 ounces in edible form, and up to 72 ounces in liquid form, for those 21 and older. The initiative also legalized cannabis retail outlets. What it didn’t legalize, however, was personal cultivation, which remains a felony.
Now, legislation – House Bill 2629 – has been filed in the state’s House of Representatives which would fix this, legalizing the personal cultivation of up to six cannabis plants, and up to 24 ounces of cannabis harvested from said plants (currently the possession of over an ounce but under 40 grams is a misdemeanor; anything over 40 grams is a felony). The proposal was filed by Representatives Brian Blake (D), Cary Condotta (R), and Jessyn Farrell (D).”
Lawsuits have been filed by medical marijuana dispensary owners, stakeholders and patients against the City of Seattle! The following are quotes taken from the press conference held on September 30th, 2015:
Washington legislation has effectively abolished medical marijuana by making it virtually impossible to find a doctor who is ready to sign the forms that are required, cutting off what people think is the “head of the snake”. People are not going to be able to get doctors’ authorizations any more under the new rules.
Washington’s Initiative 502 is now looked at around the country as what not to do when you legalize marijuana. We think the best thing to do is take this whole thing down to the ground; start over again and do it right. You know there is an old navy expression: “There is never enough time to do anything right the first time, but there is always enough time to do it right the second time.” Unfortunately, that may be true for us.
I’m Douglas Hiatt; Erin Kelley, Jeff Steinborn and myself filled a class action lawsuit with City of Seattle on Monday on behalf of our client, Columbia Holistic Health and the garden manager Erin Palmer. We had several causes of action against the city – three are primarily state law causes and there are two federal causes of action. The three state law causes are:
– The first cause of action is against the City of Seattle. All chapter 1 cities lack the authority under state law to regulate marijuana, tax marijuana, or do anything with marijuana other than enforce the criminal law. They simply have no regulatory authority and no ability to tax and that is in the city’s charter. That would apply to other first class charter cities; they simply do not hold the ability to regulate marijuana on their own and the ordinances that the city passed need be held void. We are going to seek injunctions preventing their enforcement until the courts find them void which we believe they will do.
– The second cause of action involves a case that has been decided in Spokane, Department of revenue VS Duncan, that basically said the state lacked the authority to tax marijuana because it met the exceptions for medicine from 2011-2014 when the state changed the law. That is essentially the time my client is being taxed on or imputed tax on and we expect that issue will go on to the Supreme Court. It is currently at division 3. We have raised that to preserve it for our clients.
– The third cause of action is that the City of Seattle is violating the federal drug free workplace act, which basically forbids the city from having any involvement with marijuana regulations and marijuana activities and forbids all employees from doing so. No matter if they are on their own time or government time, it is an illegal activity and they are risking forfeiting millions of dollars in federal grants.
– In addition to that there are two federal cause of action that we believe will be heard in the second case because we believe the state causes will be dispositive; but none-the-less we raised them for our clients those federal issues involve preemption issues over whether the state can tax marijuana at all, whether the state can force you to participate in tax collection schemes or imputation schemes that violate the 5th amendment. Those causes of action are currently at the Supreme Court in a case called Nickerson VS Inslee, which we are asking to court to stay those issues pending Supreme Court action.
Sean Badgly, Managing Partner of C3 Law Group:
We have filed a separate claim along with the other attorneys in the first action on one simple basis: Essentially, the mayor’s new plan is resulting in something we think is quite worrying: re-criminalization. The mayor’s office names this ordinance complying with state law. Our specific claims disagrees with this proposition, but in essence it is the re-criminalization that we are concerned about. We joined this lawsuit not lightly. This is a very important action and we felt that there is one basic proposition that should be upheld everywhere where cannabis is legal. Where cannabis is legal those who possess or otherwise participate in the cannabis market should not be considered or treated as a criminal. The mayor’s ordinance will seek to close at least 58 businesses, possibly many more. We feel this is wrong and we also feel that the mayor’s office issued business licenses in 2015 and now seeks to close these exact same businesses on the basis of operating an illegal entity. We feel this is wrong, we feel this is duplicitous and we intend to fight for patients’ rights.
Interview with Columbia Holistics (formerly operating at 12th & Jackson in Seattle):
Columbia Holistics: Basically the whole thing is unfair. We have been operating since before the time they implemented the grandfather clause. Medical marijuana built the market and now that they have it they are basically eliminating their competition. That’s basically what they did. They are using all sorts of crazy tactics.
Save WA MMJ: The lawyers mentioned that there were four different agencies targeting you? What were they?
Columbia Holistics: They were trying everything – zoning, the audit, the latest one was search warrant and police. They came out again. They asked us to do all this stuff and we did it. Then they came with the police.
Save WA MMJ: What did they use to justify that?
Columbia Holistics: Nothing! They came with the police and a search warrant, said get out of the way and cut open the safe. They also said we missed a couple semesters of city taxes. They are trying to embellish what I made by saying I have to pay taxes on 2 million dollars in sales over six months. I didn’t [make that much], that is not true.
We also have a 502 spot with an extractor. Somebody broke in and the police came. They took the extractor, then filed criminal charges against us. They have been coming at us from every way. I’m sure they are going to file criminal charges for that search warrant.
Coverage of the Lawsuits in the mainstream media:
The Stranger reports “Medical Marijuana Dispensaries File Suit in Response to City’s Crackdown“:
As part of Mayor Ed Murray’s plan to crack down on Seattle’s misbehaving medical marijuana dispensaries, the city has been conducting raids and surprise inspections at dispensaries that are considered “bad actors”—those that sell to minors or people who don’t qualify as medical patients, those that are being investigated by law enforcement or that didn’t have a business license before January 1, 2013, and others. Two of the targeted dispensaries—Columbia City Holistic Health and Better Day Gardens—have filed suit in response, alleging the city is violating federal laws by regulating the medical marijuana market and seeking injunctions allowing their shops to continue operating.
A second suit, filed by Sean Badgley of the C3 Law Group, alleges that the city misled dispensary owners by issuing them a 2015 business license and then passing an ordinance that forces them to close before the license’s expiration.
Komo news reports “Battle brewing between Seattle and pot shop owner“:
The owner of a West Seattle medical marijuana shop says he got a big surprise Tuesday morning when city officials showed up for a surprise inspection. “(They said) ‘if you don’t let us tour your facility we’re just going to revoke your business license and there’s nothing you can do about it,” said A.J. Cornwall, who runs the Better Day Gardens co-operative.
Unsure of his options, Cornwall called his attorney for advice. “Basically, I told them we weren’t going to be agreeing to any search like that and that they’d have to come back with a warrant if they wanted to do a search, and that’s what A.J. told them and they left,” said attorney Douglas Hiatt.
On Monday, Hiatt filed a complaint against the City of Seattle and Mayor Ed Murray accusing the city of “unconstitutionally assessing taxes and regulating marijuana.” “The fact of the matter is the city doesn’t have those rights, and that’s what this lawsuit is all about,” Hiatt said. “City of Seattle, you’ve got to stop. You can’t license marijuana, you can’t regulate it, you can’t tax it, and you can’t go and shut these people down. If you want to do that, you have to do it in the criminal courts.
Seattle’s deputy city attorney says they city received the lawsuit. He said the city believes its marijuana ordinances — which regulate medical marijuana — are constitutional and the city will defend them in court. A representative from the city echoed those claims, saying the regulations were “passed unanimously by City Council to ensure a safe, legal marijuana market.”
Hiatt doesn’t agree, saying the city needs to “stop this idiotic governmental action.” Cornwall said he believes regulating medical marijuana is necessary, but taking it away from people who have experience distributing it is an unfair move. “I would question why we’re putting tax dollars into stopping medical marijuana when we pay our taxes,” he said. “I’m a licensed business, I’ve been one since 2012 and we’re still putting funds toward stopping medical marijuana.”
A case is currently under way in the Superior Court of Thurston County, in which Mr. John Worthington is attempting to repeal i502. We will be posting more on this case in the future once official filed documents can be obtained (the document linked above is a draft, and is an un-filed version).