Marijuana

Letter: Tacoma medical marijuana shops to close in phases

Cannabis plants are kept in several storage areas at The Healing Center, a medicinal marijuana dispensary in downtown Olympia.
Cannabis plants are kept in several storage areas at The Healing Center, a medicinal marijuana dispensary in downtown Olympia. The Olympian

Most Tacoma medical marijuana shops will close by March 2016, while those with a pending application to the state Liquor and Cannabis Board can remain open through July 2016.

The city released its timeline for shop closures Friday in a letter sent to more than 60 unlicensed medical marijuana businesses. Stores will be asked to close in phases, according to the letter. The Tacoma City Council, during a Tuesday meeting, told staff to move ahead with its plan to close unlicensed marijuana shops.

The state Liquor and Cannabis Board has not established licensing procedures for medical cannabis businesses, but when it does, stores in Tacoma that have an “active pending” application can remain open until the LCB has issued all of its medical licenses, said Danielle Larson, tax and license division manager with the city of Tacoma.

“You can make an assumption that they will get the pieces in place prior to July 1,” Larson said of the LCB’s medical marijuana licensing process.

Earlier this year, the state Legislature told the state board to decide which medical marijuana shops and grow operations to legitimize and which ones must close by July 1, 2016.

The City Council wanted to allow some Tacoma stores to remain open until next summer to ensure patients with a need for medical cannabis can get it.

The first wave of shops will be asked to close on or before Oct. 1, according to the letter.

The second group can remain open through January 2016, as long as:

▪  The business was in operation before Jan. 1, 2013, or the applicant worked for a collective garden before Jan. 1, 2013, as proven by a pay stub.

▪  The business has had a state license.

▪  The business has a history of paying all state taxes and fees.

The third wave of shops can stay open until March 2016, if they have met the above preferences and they filed an application for a retail marijuana license before July 1, 2014.

The city’s letter asks businesses to send proof that they meet the requirements to the city before Sept. 18.

Medical shop owners with questions can call the city’s customer service hotline at 311, or 253-591-5000.

 
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