Seattle Official: Target Illegal MMJ Businesses, Allow Cannabis Lounges

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Cultivators and dispensaries in Seattle that are operating without a license or not paying taxes must be shuttered, and the medical marijuana industry should be regulated under the state’s recreational cannabis framework, City Attorney Pete Holmes recommended in a memo released this week.

The memo, sent to clarify legal issues surrounding cannabis, also urges Seattle to allow “marijuana use lounges” that would let patrons use vaporizers or consume edibles on-site.

Holmes wrote that grow operations and dispensaries without a license under the state’s recreational marijuana law are operating illegally, and unless they obtain a permit they could be prosecuted under both state and federal law.

The city is home to several hundred medical marijuana dispensaries and related businesses that don’t have state licenses, as officials never set up comprehensive regulations for MMJ.

A lack of supply in the rec market has also paved the way for “opportunistic illegal suppliers” operating as medical marijuana growers to crop up, the city attorney wrote.

These operations will continue to flourish without the threat of legal action even after supplies reach adequate levels because they have an unfair economic advantage over licensed suppliers, as they don’t pay licensing fees or taxes, he added.