Inside the medication room at Truly Helpful Collective, one of 11 Seattle-area medical marijuana dispensaries recently targeted for closure by the DEA. (file)
SEATTLE, WA – After a several month long cease-fire, the War on Marijuana has reignited in Washington, with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) ordering 11 Seattle-area medical marijuana dispensaries to shut down within 30 days.
Despite November’s voter-approved Initiative 502, which legalized marijuana for all adults 21 or over in the state of Washington, and 1998′s voter-approved Measure 692, which legalized medical marijuana in the state, the 11 dispensaries received letters from the DEA advising them that distribution of marijuana was illegal under federal law, and they were to cease operations within 30 days or risk having their properties seized under federal drug trafficking laws.
“The people of Washington have spoken,” says Kari Boiter of the Washington Chapter of Americans for Safe Access. “An overwhelming number of voters say cannabis is not a crime, particularly if you are seriously ill. Yet the Feds continue to threaten patients and caregivers with civil and criminal penalties. Is this how they will treat the I-502 industry?”
The Washington State Liquor Control Board is currently moving forward with a plan to tax and regulate marijuana for recreational purposes, with sales authorized for adults 21 or older, including plans to issue state licenses to marijuana producers, processors and distribution centers.
It was unclear why the 11 dispensaries were singled out, but owners of several of the targeted dispensaries owners say they are in full compliance with all local and state laws.
“These collectives have worked extensively with the city and state to ensure compliance,” said Rachel Kurtz, an attorney representing several targeted dispensaries. ”The letters from the DEA make no distinction between legitimate licensed businesses and those who have made no effort to obey state and local laws.”
“We strictly followed Washington’s medical marijuana law,” says Arasp Khoshkhoo, a dispensary owner. “We had business licenses from the City of Seattle and the State of Washington. We paid our taxes. We did everything any other legitimate business would do.