It's been more than two years since Washington voters gave their stamp of approval to legal pot sales to all adults. But instead of residents being able to easily obtain their weed from recreational marijuana retailers, the licensing process for these establishments has been slow and cumbersome. As a result, many people are gaming the medical marijuana system in order to get pot for nonmedical use.
Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes has a proposed solution: roll all of the medical marijuana sellers into the recreational pot retailer licensing system.
Last week, Holmes released a policy memo which called for all medical pot dispensaries to be licensed and regulated just like the recreational marijuana businesses. He also urged area law enforcement agencies to crack down on medical marijuana businesses who are operating without the correct permits, have failed to pay their occupation taxes, or opened their doors after the city council passed a moratorium on new dispensaries. Holmes' advice differs from Seattle mayor Ed Murray's proposal.
Last month, Murray suggested the creation of an entirely new set of regulations for medical marijuana businesses operating within city limits. Holmes has said that he prefers any new licensing or regulatory action to be taken by the Legislature and not at the city level.
The City Attorney also floated the idea for permitting non-smoking "marijuana lounges" to open in the city, where people could bring their own pot and congregate while consuming marijuana edibles or vaporizing marijuana.
Given the major problems that have arisen from the strict regulations that already apply to marijuana, let's hope that whatever solution emerges makes it simpler for both recreational and medical marijuana users to get the weed they need.