Sheriff’s deputies shut down unlicensed marijuana dispensary

Pierce County sheriff’s deputies Wednesday shut down an unlicensed marijuana dispensary that had continued to operate in close proximity to the sheriff’s Parkland Spanaway detachment headquarters days after a state deadline to close.

Deputies served a warrant on the Green Organics store in the 14100 block of Pacific Avenue about 10:15 a.m., seizing marijuana products and paraphernalia and arresting the 33-year-old male owner on suspicion of illegal sale of marijuana and selling marijuana to a minor.

Under state law, dispensaries had until July 1 to obtain a state license or shut down.

“We expect people to obey the law if they choose to be in the marijuana business,” Sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said. “It is amazing that these people thought that they could flaunt the law right in front of our precinct. Now they know better.”

On Wednesday, sheriff’s deputies guarded the door to Green Organics as detectives took inventory inside. They turned away several prospective customers saying the store was closed.

Troyer said Wednesday’s raid could be just the first of several on pot stores that continue to sell marijuana products. Earlier this year, Pierce County officials estimated that 60 medical marijuana dispensaries were operating in unincorporated Pierce County.

Pierce County mailed notification letters last fall to the owners of medical marijuana stores informing them of the state deadline and notifying them that the county would be enforcing the new law.

The Legislature changed the law last year in an attempt to bring medical marijuana stores into the same regulatory system established for recreational pot shops under Initiative 502.

Pierce County had a ban on marijuana businesses that prevented even licensed shops from operating legally, but the County Council voted last year to lift the ban come July 1. A last-minute attempt to restore the ban failed last week when Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy vetoed the measure, saying that county residents had voted to legalize sales as part of I-502.

John Gillie: 253-597-8663