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Seattle Times coverage of pot policy, culture and lifestyle.

August 13, 2014 at 5:51 PM

Seattle City Council committee pushes medical pot extension ahead

The Seattle City Council’s Finance and Culture committee pushed a deadline extension for medical pot businesses that would allow them to continue to operate after Jan. 1, 2015, the current deadline for businesses to obtain a state-issued license and comply with Seattle code. The full Council is expected to vote on the deadline-extension bill Sept. 2.

Councilmember Nick Licata  proposed amending the deadline for compliance as far out as January 2016, depending on what the state does to change medical pot laws.

Last October, medical marijuana businesses that opened before Nov. 16, 2013, were allowed to continue until the end of this year with the expectation the state would address medical marijuana laws.

“Current (city) legislation was passed with hope the state Legislature would amend existing state law to acknowledge medical,” said Licata during today’s hearing. “Well over 100 of these businesses have city licenses but do not fall under the state definition of being licensed.”

But last session, the state Legislature failed to reconcile medical marijuana businesses with its new legal system. This left medical marijuana businesses unlicensed and largely unregulated. With just one state-licensed recreational store open in Seattle and little supply on the market, their products continue to be in high demand for patients with authorization cards.

Medical marijuana advocates supported the extension during the hearing. “I’m a huge fan of it,” said Stephanie Viskovich, who manages a medical pot collective.

Medical pot entrepreneur Alex Cooley said he thought the extension ought to be longer. “I don’t think six months is an appropriate time,” said Cooley. “Nothing will be resolved in the state (system).” Cooley also encouraged the city to weed out bad actors in the medical business.

“We’re considered a black market because honestly the city has allowed so many stores to open. Anyone thinks they can grow cannabis.”

During the hearing, Licata brought another issue to the council’s attention. He said as many as 50 medical marijuana businesses received licenses after November 2013. He said the council would seek to address that problem “as soon as possible this fall.”

Comments | More in News | Topics: city council, nick licata

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