Tacoma Dispensaries Deemed a Public Nuisance, But Fate of City’s 35 MMJ Centers Unclear

At first glance, the ordinance passed by officials in Tacoma, Washington, yesterday seems pretty cut-and-dry: Medical marijuana dispensaries are now considered a public nuisance and must close shop in the coming days.

But it’s not as simple as that, and the future is still uncertain for the city’s three dozen storefront cannabis centers.

Despite enacting what is for all intents and purposes a ban on medical marijuana dispensaries, Tacoma officials appear poised to allow some wiggle room, as best we can tell.

For one, it’s unclear how aggressive the city will be in enforcing the new measure, especially against dispensaries that avoid generating complaints from the public or nearby businesses. The city is working with police to come up with a way to enforce the ordinance, but the strategy will allegedly include parts of a previously passed initiative that makes marijuana-related infractions the lowest priority for police. The big question: If a dispensary is in good-standing with its neighbors and operates below the radar – and if going after these centers is a low priority anyway – will the city overlook the operation and allow it to stay in business? Perhaps. That’s essentially what Tacoma is doing when it comes to cultivation operations, after all.

Local officials also indicated that it’s unlikely dispensaries will be raided and said existing centers could stay in business if they adopt the collective model allowed for growers, which essentially means becoming a place where patients “share responsibility and engage in the production, processing and/or delivery of marijuana for medical use.”

Tacoma officials believe this is the best strategy as they walk a fine line between providing patients with access to medical marijuana and avoiding federal prosecution of state employees and businesses. While the new ordinance will certainly hurt the city’s MMJ industry, it hopefully won’t destroy it.

2 comments on “Tacoma Dispensaries Deemed a Public Nuisance, But Fate of City’s 35 MMJ Centers Unclear
  1. hmorgan on

    People should start calling in complaints against every business in Tacoma! flower shops, dog wash places, restaurants, liquor stores! If they get enough complaints that other businesses are “public nuisances” maybe they will realize how stupid that ordinance is!!!

    Reply
  2. Catharine M Jeter on

    I would like to congratulate the Tacoma, WA city council for carving their own path in a state where local officials have tended toward a knee-jerk moratoriums within their local jurisdictions. Tacoma’s initial approach was the same, however they stepped back from their initial moratorium and have conducted a year long investigative and community comment process. It is clear that they have no bone to pick with medical cannabis, however their actions, as you correctly pointed out, may have personal implications as city officials. The ordinance amended last night was not the one any of us wanted, but it is a starting point that acknowledges both the medical and business implications and provides room for the community to mature ahead of much of the rest of the nation. We are hopeful in Tacoma today, and celebrating our small victory, but we will be diligent in maintaining our rights and will attempt to enhance the ordinance as we demonstrate with our actions that we are not “drug dealers” but instead valuable community members.

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