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.
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
Public Notification and Meeting Announcement – Medical Marijuana Authorization Database – Proposed Rulemaking: The Department of Health filed a CR-101 with the Office of the Code Reviser on August 14, 2015, to notify the public of their intent to begin rulemaking on chapter 246-71 WAC: Medical Marijuana Authorization Database. These rules will establish the requirements for a Medical Marijuana Authorization Database.
IF YOU OPPOSE THE NEW PATIENT DATABASE, THIS IS YOUR CHANCE TO PUBLICLY GO ON THE RECORD AND STATE WHY. The Department has scheduled four proposed rules meetings at various locations throughout Washington State.
The purpose of the proposed rules meetings will be to:
-Discuss the proposed content of chapter 246-71 WAC;
-Explain the state’s rule-making process and timeline;
-Invite stakeholders, members of the general public, and other interested parties to participate in the rule making process and to provide comment.
Meeting Dates, Time and Location Information:
September 2, 2015 – 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Black River Conference Center
800 Oakesdale Avenue
Renton, WA 98507
September 3, 2015 – 1:00 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Educational Service District 112
2500 N.E. 65th
Vancouver, WA 98661
September 15, 2015 – 9:00 a.m. to noon
Hilton Garden Inn
401 E. Yakima Avenue
Yakima, WA 98901
September 16, 2015 – 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Spokane Library- Downtown Branch
906 W. Main Avenue
Spokane, WA 99201
More information is available at the DOH website.
About the new patient database, or “registry”: The patient database is a “voluntary” database that was established under the new legislation SB5052 (the latest legislation that is destroying medical marijuana in our state). In order to grow more than four plants, purchase more than one ounce, or possess more than six ounces patients are now required by SB5052 to “voluntarily” join the new database. Note that the new authorization form does provide a way for medical doctors to recommend that a patient be able to grow up to fifteen plants, however this recommendation is only valid if it is included on the new authorization form AND if the patient voluntarily joins the new patient database.
Joining the database will be also required to avoid paying state sales tax on medicinal marijuana (but, you are only exempted from the state sales tax – NOT the state recreational tax, patients still legally are required to pay this tax!)
Governer Inslee promises that
“privacy will be ensured at the highest possible level, and the database does not in any way violate HIPPA”
SURE … (sarcasm). SB5052 did create a new felony for improperly accessing the database – however who is to say what is appropriate or what isn’t appropriate access? The WSLCB – who has a series of secret meetings with law enforcement scheduled throughout this fall already? Only time will tell.
Qualifying patients who choose not to register will retain the right to present affirmative defense in court, under what remains of Initiative 692, passed by voters in 1998.