Medical marijuana dispensaries brace for retail impact

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by MEG COYLE/KING 5 NEWS

KING5.com

Posted on July 7, 2014 at 7:45 PM

SEATTLE -- A steady stream of people file into an unassuming building in West Seattle for the kind of fix only a doctor can authorize. The kind of fix that makes life for Jason Atlas livable.

"As a patient I use it if I'm in some kind of reaction or if I'm in some truly bad situation and I just need to shut it down," said Atlas.

But Atlas and others fear Lucky Ladyz Cooperative could shut down if they're brought into compliance with retail pot regulations through Initiative 502.

"Medical marijuana has no regulatory oversight. They can as a practical matter sell to anyone they want and can sell pot that hasn't been tested for safety or quality standards," said Alison Holcomb, primary drafter of I-502.

"We do still have rules. They're pretty grey," acknowledged Lucky Ladyz owner Felicia Kayne, who also believes she and other dispensaries and their vendors have regulated themselves just fine over the years. But with retail now in the mix, the state is considering not just quality control on the medical side, but patient registries and a possible tax -- things Kayne believes would be bad for business, and even worse for the patient.

"I'm worried it’s not gonna be affordable to them I'm worried that with the registry they'll be scared and it'll go back to a black market because people won't be willing to go that route," she said.

Jason Atlas says pot is the only pain relief that works for him. Retail pot and medical pot, he says, just don't mix.

"Recreational usage is a commodity. The medical marijuana is a treatment and medicine it is not to be commoditized and that's the difference."

A bill before the legislature that would've required regulatory oversight of medical marijuana failed earlier this year. Lawmakers are expected to take it up again in 2015.
 

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