Medical-marijuana dispensaries ‘clearly illegal’ after bills’ failure

4:17 PM: The business boom in medical-marijuana may be about to go bust. In Olympia today, the legislator who had been trying to get a state law passed to regulate medical-marijuana dispensaries announced the effort is officially dead, and King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg is quoted as saying that means the “gray area” that allowed dispensaries to proliferate is “gone.” Here are the details from our partners at the Seattle Times. The dispensary boom has brought at least two into West Seattle so far, with a third and possibly fourth on the way, in addition to a dispensary and a “lounge” that recently opened in White Center. Will a crackdown/shutdown campaign ensue? No word yet.

ADDED 5:09 PM: We asked for comment from City Attorney Pete Holmes, with whom we had a wide-ranging discussion about this issue 2 months ago. Here’s his statement:

“The Governor’s ill-advised veto not only further confuses the legal landscape for medical cannabis, it forces local governments to go it alone. We do not have the luxury of ignoring law enforcement’s need for guidance in regard to proliferating dispensaries and grow operations. I am committed to working with our County Prosecutor, the SPD, the Mayor and City Council to find a way for authorized medical cannabis users to obtain their medicine without sacrificing public safety. State and federal authorities have only further complicated this difficult goal, but Seattle will find a way to make a bad situation tolerable.

Holmes also “commended Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles for her doggedness and diligence” on the issue, according to his office.

40 Replies to "Medical-marijuana dispensaries 'clearly illegal' after bills' failure"

  • not a customer May 24, 2011 (4:41 pm)

    Dang. There go half the advertisers in the Weekly and Stranger.

    Where are the libertarians when you really need them?

  • Mike May 24, 2011 (4:58 pm)

    I was gonna say, The Stranger ads for those shops look more like ads for strip clubs.

  • Marc Mauger May 24, 2011 (8:43 pm)

    I know! What’s up with those sexy nurses and where do they hang out?

  • k May 24, 2011 (9:10 pm)

    the amount of money and time wasted on this is astonishing. alcohol is legal and pot isn’t. ridiculous.

  • Dude May 24, 2011 (11:59 pm)

    Holmes… Have another hit dude. People that “need” pot for their ailments should get it from Bartell’s like every other controled substance. And that’s the way it should stay. There are too many problems accociated with this dangerous drug. Look how much alcohol has cost society. Yeah it brings in something like 25M in tax revenue, but it costs 250M in medical and treatment costs for people that get addicted. Besides killing people in car accidents. And yeah, pot is and always will be, an entry drug for our dumb kids that grow up in this no consequence, instant gradification world we live in. Pot is a scourge on society that ruins lives and families, and should be discouraged. I mean, why do you think they call it dope.

  • malcolm kyle May 25, 2011 (2:04 am)

    Dude, you make many claims but offer no evidence in support of any of them.

    The issue of ‘Drugged Driving’ has often been brought to the forefront in many debates concerning the use of Marijuana (recreational, spiritual or medicinal) so I feel it may be useful to cover this topic comprehensively.

    The often cited statistic that 6-8% of drivers in motor accidents test positive for marijuana is a case-book example of mistaken causality. A positive test merely indicates that the driver has used marijuana sometime in the past 90 days. Since roughly 7% of the population uses marijuana on a monthly basis, the 6-8% statistic, far from proving anything about the effects of marijuana, simply affirms what should be expected.

    Here is a graph which indicates the presence of certain amounts of cannabis in your body REDUCES accident risk:


    * Fact: When combined 2002 to 2005 data are compared with combined 2006 to 2009 data, the Nation as a whole experienced a statistically significant reduction in the rate of past year drugged driving (from 4.8 to 4.3 percent), as did seven States: Alaska, California, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Four of these seven States have legalized medicinal marijuana, Alaska, Hawaii, Michigan and California.

    * Fact: California led the US to a nationwide, statistically significant reduction in the incidence of “drugged” driving during a time period when the number of patients claiming the protection of the California Compassionate Use Act and SB-420 more than tripled.

    * Fact: The Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, Hartford Hospital in Connecticut and the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine document states that MARIJUANA DOES NOT CAUSE DANGEROUS DRIVING:

    Google MARIJUANA DRIVING STUDY. You’ll see two common findings:

    1. Drivers under the influence of marijuana are VERY SLIGHTLY impaired.

    2. Unlike those under the influence of alcohol, marijuana consumers are aware they are VERY SLIGHTLY impaired and they CONSISTENTLY ADEQUATELY COMPENSATE by slowing down a little and being a little more cautious. That doesn’t mean they get in the fast lane on the interstate and drive 15 miles per hour. Marijuana makes you cautious, not crazy! Those Cheech and Chong movies were comedies, NOT documentaries!

    * On November 30, Gil Kerlikowske presented this to the press: New Data On The Dangers Of Drugged Driving.

    Looking at only fatalities, the data that Kerlikowske provides makes absolutely no distinction between the parties at fault and innocent second-vehicle casualties. No distinction between impairment and the mere presence of metabolites and no distinctions between drunk or drugged drivers (illegal or prescription).

    And guess what? Kerli also forgot to mention the fact that U.S. traffic fatalities are at a record low despite drivers traveling farther than they did in 2008, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study of traffic injuries and fatalities in 2009 found that 33,808 people were killed in vehicular accidents, which is a decline of 9.7 percent from 2008’s figures. In fact, you’d have to go all the way back to 1950 to find a year when fewer people were killed.

    Keep in mind that there were only 44.7 million cars on U.S. roads in 1950 and a population of 150 million compared to today’s 255.9 million cars and a population of 310 million, according to the DOT. Which means that the probability of being involved in an auto fatality is dramatically lower than it was nearly 60 years ago.

    * A comparison of meta-analyses of experimental studies on the impairment of driving-relevant skills by alcohol or cannabis suggests that a THC concentration in the serum of 7–10 ng/ml is correlated with an impairment comparable to that caused by a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.05%.

    * It takes approximately 2-3 hours for your serum THC concentration to fall below 10ng/ml after smoking cannabis (of different strengths). In other words you’re okay to drive after 2-3 hours of using:

    Bear in mind that THC-COOH is the inactive metabolite.

    * I’m sure that many of us have heard someone say they didn’t want to smoke any more because they had to drive and therefor didn’t want to be too stoned. I’m also sure that many of us have heard a drunk slur that they definitely weren’t impaired and considered themselves more than fit to slouch behind the wheel of their 3000 pound lethal weapon. –Cannabis tends to make you calm and cautious while alcohol makes you aggressive and reckless.

  • malcolm kyle May 25, 2011 (2:09 am)

    And for those of you, like Dude, who are still living in some strange parallel universe, one where prohibition actually works, here is part of the testimony of Judge Alfred J Talley, given before the Senate Hearings of 1926:

    “For the first time in our history, full faith and confidence in and respect for the hitherto sacred Constitution of the United States has been weakened and impaired because this terrifying invasion of natural rights has been engrafted upon the fundamental law of our land, and experience has shown that it is being wantonly and derisively violated in every State, city, and hamlet in the country.”

    “It has made potential drunkards of the youth of the land, not because intoxicating liquor appeals to their taste or disposition, but because it is a forbidden thing, and because it is forbidden makes an irresistible appeal to the unformed and immature. It has brought into our midst the intemperate woman, the most fearsome and menacing thing for the future of our national life.”

    “It has brought the sickening slime of corruption, dishonor, and disgrace into every group of employees and officials in city, State, and Federal departments that have been charged with the enforcement of this odious law.”

    If you are a prohibitionist then you need to answer the following questions:

    Why do you rejoice at the fact that we have all been stripped of our 4th amendment rights and are now totally subordinate to a corporatized, despotic government with a heavily armed and corrupt, militarized police force whose often deadly intrusions into our homes and lives are condoned by an equally corrupt and spineless judiciary?

    Why do you wish to continue to spend $50 billion a year to prosecute and cage your fellow citizens for choosing drugs which are not more dangerous than those of which you yourself use and approve of such as alcohol and tobacco?

    Why are you willing to waste another trillion dollars on this garbage policy?

    Why do you need to wage war on your own family, friends and neighbors?

    Why are you happy that America has the largest prison population of the whole planet?

    Why are you helping to fuel a budget crisis to the point of closing schools and libraries?

    Why are you helping to waste precious resources on prohibition related undercover work while rapists and murderers walk free?

    Why are you also not concerned that many cases involving murder and rape do not get taken to trial because law enforcement priorities are subverted by your beloved failed and dangerous policy of prohibition?

    Why are you such a fan of the prison-industrial-complex to the point of even endangering your own children?

    Will you applaud when, due to your incipient authoritarian approach, your own child is caged and raped?

    Will you also applaud when your own child, due to an unnecessary and counter productive felony conviction, can no longer find employment?

    Private prisons are publicly traded and their stock value is tied to the number of inmates. Here’s what the UK Economist Magazine thinks of the situation: “Never in the civilised world have so many been locked up for so little”

  • Marc Mauger May 25, 2011 (7:06 am)

    Pot makes the baby jesus cry

  • Marc Mauger May 25, 2011 (8:11 am)

    Hats off to m. kyle for the dead-on post. The driving while stoned argument is so tenuous that it belies the weakness of the prohibitionists’ arguments. Simply put, marijuana use is non-lethal. Compared to alcohol, it is about as dangerous as jelly beans.

    As for the jails, guess who’se stock went up after California voted against reducing (small amounts of) marijuana possession to a misdemeanor? Yup, Corrections Corporation of America

  • Phil D. Boll May 25, 2011 (8:26 am)

    @ DUD, Ignorance such as you display in your comment is what has created the current situation,the government fighting a failed war on drugs,wasting Billions of tax payer dollars,a Prison Industrial complex that see’s non violent citizens as raw material, UNregulated sales of Cannabis to Children,all the while the drug cartels and the Cannabis Profiteers become richer.
    Keep your head in the Sand, you’re going to get your ass kicked by Reality some day.

  • furor scribendi May 25, 2011 (9:21 am)

    Hat’s off to you, Dude – you are right on! As for m.Kyle, your circular words and links highlight your circular argument, one you cannot win. And let’s be clear – the issue being defeated here isn’t only the myth of medical pot but also the arrogance of believing our region can selectively violate federal law and get away with it.

  • DP May 25, 2011 (9:53 am)

    The sensible middle ground here is to acknowledge that pot, while no worse than some things, like alcohol, is still an addictive drug, with all the attendant problems. Based on that, I can support decriminalization, but I cannot support full-on legalization. However, as a compromise, I might accept legalization coupled with a stiff taxation regime that would funnel money into treatment programs.
    Malcolm: Thank you for the colorful (albeit indirect) defense of driving while high. I’ve been high a few times myself, and I can tell you that my perception was altered enough to make me unsafe at any speed. Individual mileage may vary, but for the record I don’t trust anyone who claims they can drive while high. Fortunately, neither do the police. So good luck with that line of reasoning, my friend, ‘cuz you’re gonna need it . . .
    And to anyone out there who HAS been driving while high OR drunk, I have a message: I hope they catch you, and I hope they catch you soon.

  • JimmyG May 25, 2011 (9:58 am)

    Until marijuana is legalized for all uses, I’m for medical marijuana under the following provisions.

    Make it a prescription medication only prescribed by a M.D.
    The prescriptions are only to be filled at an already established pharmacy.

  • Alki Jon May 25, 2011 (10:22 am)

    It’s only been used for thousands of years we’ll wipe it out soon. Just keep spending our tax money to battle this “dangerous”, “life ruining” non toxic flower. Wake up Please!!

  • GiveMeLiberty May 25, 2011 (10:23 am)

    I didn’t vote for the governor and have never really cared for her, but for this I applaud her!! I agree with Dude. If its going to be sold then it should be done at a pharmacy, plain and simple!

  • West Seattle Native May 25, 2011 (11:19 am)

    So marijuana should only be sold at pharmacies, huh? Does that mean liquor should only be served at bars? I love that someone posed the question “Why do you think they call it dope?” “They” don’t….. YOU DO. “They” call it “medicine, marijuana, grass” and a multitude of other terms that can be used to describe it without negative connotation.

    I just wish people would start citing factual, scientific reasons to outlaw and/or regulate medical marijuana. I’ve heard/read enough socially paranoid rants from people who talk about marijuana as if they know everything, but are in fact majorly ignorant on the matter.

    Let’s see if one of you all-knowing opponents of medical marijuana can answer this: Seeing as how us medical marijuana users are a bunch of “lazy dopers, burn-outs, hippies, and scum who will never be able to rid ourselves of this addictive drug habit,” how exactly, do you propose we obtain it once it’s outlawed and deemed criminal again? It’s not going to go away. Things will just revert to the way they were.

    I’ll see you on the corner by the bus stop across the street from the high school…. I’ll be the one buying my medicine illegally from drug dealers since that was the only way you’d have it.

  • One More Observation May 25, 2011 (11:53 am)

    I just heard a compelling argument against legalization (although I believed it should be) that I’d like to share. It went something like this…for those people who use the argument “legalize it and tax the heck out of it”, comparing it to alcohol, it’s too late. After adding taxes and overhead, it would be so expensive that everyone would still go to the dealers who could undercut legal dispensaries significantly, and in this economic climate, where would YOU go?

  • JoB May 25, 2011 (1:04 pm)

    One more observation…

    that was one of the arguments against legalizing and taxing alcohol…
    although there are still people who distill their own spirits and will sell it to you…
    for the most part people seem to be perfectly willing to belly up to the bar and pay exorbitant prices to have it handed to them in a glass…
    times or no times…

  • JoB May 25, 2011 (1:07 pm)

    It’s funny..
    the same people who think people with medical marijuana needs should go to the local drug store to fill their prescription
    think that the mentally ill should check into hospitals and safe houses for the mentally ill.
    the big problem is that none of those options exist.

  • maplesyrup May 25, 2011 (2:12 pm)

    One More Observation- the answer to that is that if faced with the choice of a convenient and legal purchase vs. an inconvenient and illegal but cheaper purchase, they will opt for the former. It’s the same reason people still buy beer and alcohol at the store instead of brewing and/or selling their own.

  • as-if May 25, 2011 (2:31 pm)

    What? As if the illegal drug trade is going to disappear if you legalize it? As if all the present dealers are going to all of the sudden become business entrepreneurs and start paying taxes on something that has been a cash business? I think that it will always be underground along side the meth and cocaine. Being entrepreneurs, they will just price their product lower and continue on as usual.

  • maplesyrup May 25, 2011 (2:49 pm)

    It’s legal to grow tobacco. Why aren’t there thousands of underground tobacco purveyors? Why isn’t moonshine ubiquitous?

    If it were legal to buy pot in a store, sure you’d have people growing their own but the overwhelming amount of consumers would get it through legal channels. Don’t underestimate convenience and the fact that people prefer to do things legally.

    The other thing not to forget is that with mass production, the methods improve and the cost to produce goes down.

  • furor scribendi May 25, 2011 (3:19 pm)

    Dear pro-potsters, if the issue is ‘pot is a medicine’, then let THC (pot’s active ingredient) be available in a non-smokable form from pharmacies; if the issue is ‘pot smoking is healthy’ then see any number of actual medical studies to the contrary; and if the issue is ‘I should be able to smoke anything I want’ please refer to the fifty year effort against that other addictive smoking habit humans have, tobacco use, which thankfully is waning year by year.

  • as-if May 25, 2011 (6:08 pm)

    Exactly, scribendi!

  • Phil D. Boll May 25, 2011 (7:15 pm)

    One More Observation,Wrote,
    “After adding taxes and overhead, it would be so expensive that everyone would still go to the dealers who could undercut legal dispensaries significantly,””

    How do you figure? Do you know how cheap it can be to grow acres of Cannabis? IF the government doesn’t go Crazy and prices it reasonably the drug cartels would have to undercut them, and they probably will try, but I think most Cannabis users will opt to buy Legal State licensed and safe regulated Cannabis from the State Stores, even if the price is higher. I would shop at the State store even if it were higher priced than the Black Market because I do not support the Violent Drug Cartels,I want to keep my money Local,supporting local jobs,etc.I like knowing that the material I am buying is subject to health dept.testing, also a State Cannabis Store will have a variety that no pusher I have ever known can match.

  • Phil D. Boll May 25, 2011 (7:28 pm)

    @furor scribendi , wrote”if the issue is ‘pot smoking is healthy’ then see any number of actual medical studies to the contrary;”

    I’m not going to claim that Smoking Cannabis IS healthy, but you may want to check out the studies done by Dr.Donald Tashkin,UCLA. Also you should learn more about the various compounds that are in Cannabis, there’s a lot more than just THC,it’s about a lot more than getting “high” for people who know it as medicine.

  • Marc Mauger May 25, 2011 (7:54 pm)

    I suspect what it comes down to is that people (like Richard Nixon) hate pot not for some deep seated fear of the plant but because they very much dislike the people who smoke it.

  • bert May 25, 2011 (11:03 pm)

    “let THC (pot’s active ingredient) be available in a non-smokable form from pharmacies”

    I’ve seen testimony for patients who claim that that smoking cannabis, rather than taking one (or several) Marinol, helps control the dose administered and thus quickly relieves pain without intoxication. When you smoke it rather then digesting a pill, the effects are almost instant, making it much easier to fine tune the dose.

    “if the issue is ‘pot smoking is healthy’ then see any number of actual medical studies to the contrary”

    While nobody is saying that drawing hot, psychoactive smoke into the lungs is good for one’s health (except perhaps in prescribed medical circumstances), I think that a society that tolerates alcohol, tobacco, and bacon-double-cheeseburgers cannot, on medical grounds, justify incriminating people for smoking cannabis.

  • Paul May 25, 2011 (11:55 pm)

    for the record I do not smoke marijuana..But I stand firm that anyone against it is just pure evil…pharmaceutical companies don’t want you growing your own medicine $$$$ we could be growing hemp for thousands of products including paper instead of clear cutting the whole frikin planet..and if you drink and are against marijuana…dont even get me started. I am a wolf not a sheep

  • Darby, West Seattle Coordinator for Sensible Washington May 26, 2011 (7:24 am)

    There are three types of people who support drug prohibition.
    1. Those who legally gain employment, power and/or money by exploiting the victims of the war on drugs (ie. district attorneys, judges, lawyers, police officers, the prison industrial complex)
    2. Those who profit directly from the black market created by prohibition. (gangsters, drug cartels, mafia, etc.)
    3. Mildly retarded people who actually think that the government is protecting her citizens through prohibition.

    Five Reasons to Sign I-1149
    Marijuana is a benign substance. Unlike alcohol, cigarettes,
    and caffeine, marijuana has never caused a single death.
    Marijuana should not result in a lifetime criminal record. Students
    should not be ineligible for financial aid and children should not
    be taken from their parents over a marijuana conviction.
    Marijuana prohibition is a waste of money. The State of
    Washington spends one hundred million dollars annually to
    arrest, prosecute and jail 12,000 people a year for non-violent,
    victimless “crimes” related to marijuana. That
    ʼs taxpayer money
    that could be saved — or spent on education, health programs,
    teen drug treatment programs, etc.
    Just like alcohol prohibition, prohibition of marijuana
    empowers violent organized crime.
    Instead of allowing small
    business owners and farmers to grow and sell marijuana and
    industrial hemp, the government has granted a monopoly to
    criminals who will maim, kill, and sell drugs to children in the
    name of profit.
    Medical marijuana patients are not protected by current law.
    Voters in Washington overwhelmingly approved our medical
    marijuana law in 1998. But patients are still being arrested,
    prosecuted and sometimes even jailed for using doctorauthorized
    medicine. The only way to really protect patients is to
    make their medicine legal.
    Hemp is an eco-friendly, profitable crop for Washingtonʼs
    The first marijuana law in the U.S. required landowners
    to grow hemp for its abundant industrial uses, which include
    cooking oil, fabric, paint, biofuel and paper – four times as much
    paper per acre as trees. Due to prohibition, the demand for hemp
    products in the U.S. must be met by importing it from other
    countries, robbing our farmers of a valuable cash crop.

    I urge you to read I-1149 and sign

  • LOP May 26, 2011 (5:07 pm)

    Darby, your justifications are so thin and your reasons for legalization so vacuous that you must be selling something. Oh, yes! You and your supporters are hoping to ‘cash in’ regardless of the societal consequences of pot use. A little or a lot, it’s against the law. And I hope it stays that way.

  • use facts please May 26, 2011 (5:55 pm)

    THC might actually inhibit cancer by killing old cells where it grows, so yes, it could be healthy. It certainly isn’t unhealthy.
    “The largest study of its kind has unexpectedly concluded that smoking marijuana, even regularly and heavily, does not lead to lung cancer.”
    “We hypothesized that there would be a positive association between marijuana use and lung cancer, and that the association would be more positive with heavier use,” he said. “What we found instead was no association at all, and even a suggestion of some protective effect.”
    We’ve known this for 5 years and some of you still choose to spread falsehoods and fear. Let people relieve their pain and nausea already and quit with the health myths and prohibition propaganda.

  • Darby, West Seattle Coordinator for Sensible Washington May 27, 2011 (9:41 am)

    @LOP:”Darby, your justifications are so thin and your reasons for legalization so vacuous that you must be selling something. Oh, yes! You and your supporters are hoping to ‘cash in’ regardless of the societal consequences of pot use. A little or a lot, it’s against the law. And I hope it stays that way.”

    What evidence do you have that Prohibition works??The 5 reason I have posted are major reasons to end prohibition. If you can’t see that then you are as awful as prohibition its self. as for selling something, YES, LEGALIZATION! My supporters are not cashing in on anything, not one volunteer for Sensible Washington is paid, not one. The only thing we strive for is our CIVIL right.

    “Ask yourself, what was the original goal of prohibiting drugs. Was it to reduce use, protect the kids or reduce crime? By every metric, it has failed spectacularly. Prohibition doesn’t protect our youth. Three national surveys reveal it’s far easier for teenagers to buy illegal drugs than alcohol. Liquor stores check IDs, drug dealers don’t.”

  • maplesyrup May 27, 2011 (11:35 am)

    I don’t smoke pot, nor do I expect to cash in, but I ardently support legalization. My question for all of those who don’t would be, why do you continue to support prohibition? I can’t see any logical arguments to do so.

    So convince me.

  • Name Dropper May 27, 2011 (12:11 pm)

    @maplesyrup – Oh Snap!

    @everyone else – “Yea, what he said!”

  • Darby, West Seattle Coordinator for Sensible Washington May 27, 2011 (2:38 pm)

    If anyone would like to help Sensible Washington please do so by visiting or find us on Facebook

    We have multiple sub groups in your area
    West Seattle is located here:

  • seabourne May 28, 2011 (2:15 pm)

    It is time to “Change the Schedule of Cannabis, Cannabis Laws, and Drug Czar Laws”
    Sign the petition at

    I also ask all to please sign the petition to Ban Ki-moon and all Heads of State, calling to “end the war on drugs and the prohibition regime, and move towards a system based on decriminalisation, regulation, public health and education. This 50 year old policy has failed, fuels violent organised crime, devastates lives and is costing billions. It is time for a humane and effective approach.”
    Please sign it at

  • Concerned Athlete May 29, 2011 (11:22 pm)

    LOP, if you know of any organizations that protest these medical marijuana clinics…….please let me know, I will make a sizable donation to any cause that is anti-marijuana. Americans have grown to be entitled people.

  • Concerned Athlete May 29, 2011 (11:30 pm)

    When are they going to take down the drug free zone signs around Roxhill Elementary?

  • Arroyo Chris June 4, 2011 (7:42 pm)

    Concerned Athlete you are way too concerned, if you puffed a little you’d not be so uptight.

Sorry, comment time is over.