If you own a dispensary or hope to open one someday, you should pay particularly close attention to what’s going on in Seattle. It’s a sign of things to come for medical marijuana in other large cities.
Seattle’s City Council passed a measure last night to license, regulate and tax medical pot shops. This is notable for several reasons:
– Seattle decided to authorize dispensaries rather than ban them or impose a moratorium on such operations, as several other cities in Washington have done in recent months.
– It is the boldest move yet by a city since the federal government attempted to clarify its position on medical marijuana by saying it could prosecute dispensary owners even if they’re complying with state laws. Seattle also passed the measure shortly after Washington’s governor vetoed many sections of a voter-backed bill that would have set up a state-wide regulation system.
– It could encourage other cities around the country to begin regulating, licensing and taxing medical marijuana operations.
Dispensary owners in other states with lax laws should prepare for the possibility that one day they will be regulated and taxed just like any other company. That means more costs and bigger headaches but also perhaps more protection from the federal government and a stronger, more predictable business framework. The model that Seattle – and Colorado before it – adopted is the one that will stick going forward.