Washington State Medical Marijuana Collective Gardens and Access Points: It All Ends Tomorrow

Washington State Medical Marijuana Collective Gardens and Access Points: It All Ends Tomorrow

Maybe you didnt know it when you voted for or against I-502, but it was inevitable that its passage would cause Washington State toexamine its unregulated and unaccountable medical marijuana program, especially in light of the 2013 Cole Memo. And you may have been surprised when the Evergreen State decided last year to throw all medical marijuana in with recreational marijuanas regulatory system and putboth of those underthe Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB). However, with passage of the Cannabis Patient Protection Act (SB 5052), we all knew the day would come when the old guard of medical marijuana would fade away to usher in a new era of intense oversight and regulation. July 1 marks that occasion.

As of tomorrow, pursuant to SB 5052, all currently operating medical marijuana collective gardens and access points mustclose their doors. Though SB 5052 provides that collective gardens can exist after July 1, they must operate under a completely different set of regulations that require theyforego any commercial activity. They also must now register with the state and maintain a healthy distance from WSLCB-licensed retailers. There are no exceptions allowing current access point operators to stay open after July 1 unless those operators secured a retailer license from the WSLCB pursuant to its priority licensing system.

The WSLCB has made clear that its goal is to have the unlicensed businesses close voluntarily, but their enforcement staff is prepared to help local police and prosecutors take additional steps if necessary. We expect the WSLCB will employ arange of enforcement and punishment, spanning civil to criminal sanctions and actions. The WSLCB will also no doubtgointo unlicensed marijuana operations to seize and destroy cannabis inventory even without filing any charges.

Cities and countieswill also take up legal arms against medical marijuana operators that seek toremain open after July 1. Just like the state, local governments have a lot of time and money ...

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