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City of Seattle
Ed Murray, Mayor

SUBJECT: City Attorney’s statement on new City proposals on marijuana regulation

5/26/2015  5:00:00 PM
Kimberly Mills  (206) 684-8602

When Washington voters passed I-502 in 2012—which they did with overwhelming support from Seattle’s voters—they sent a loud and clear message that they wanted to replace the failed policy of marijuana probation with a better system of legalization, taxation, regulation. Since then, we have been working hard with the governor, the state legislature, and the Liquor Control Board (now the Liquor and Cannabis Board) to integrate our state’s regulated I-502 adult use system with its unregulated medical system. With SB 5052 and the rules the LCB will work on in the coming months, we are finally moving towards one well-designed system that will both work for recreational users and serve the needs of medical patients.

It’s now time for Seattle to step up and help our city move from where we are now to where we need to be on July 1, 2016, when all marijuana retailers—medical and recreational—will be required to have state licenses. I’m proud to stand with Mayor Murray and Councilmember Licata to support these proposals, which will facilitate a fair transition to the new system under 5052. The legislature recognized not only that we needed to bring medical marijuana providers into the I-502 regulatory framework, but also that we needed to expand the I-502 regulatory framework—and add additional licenses—to make it work better for medical providers

To support that, our proposal recognizes that some of the currently operating unlicensed medical providers will likely obtain I-502 licenses in the next year, and we plan to let those who remain eligible or in the running for I-502 licenses operate until the final deadline in July 2016. But the unlicensed medical retailers and producers who can’t get I-502 licenses—for example, those that opened too recently, those that didn’t at least obtain the basic city business licenses or pay taxes, and especially those that sell to non-patients so aren’t even medical—will need to close as soon as these City proposals go into effect.

I am committed to work with the Mayor and his executive departments to implement these proposals using civil remedies and regulatory enforcement rather than criminal law enforcement wherever possible. I support using whatever tools are necessary to get the job done, but I hope and believe that civil regulatory enforcement will be most effective in bringing all Seattle marijuana producers, processors, and retailers into I-502’s system by July 2016, and in most cases well before then.

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