The medical and retail marijuana licensing system in the state of Washington is changing after bill 5052 was passed in 2015. One of the reasons why the law was passed is so the state can regulate the marijuana industry closer. Medical marijuana stores are now required to get a retail marijuana license by July 1, 2016 to keep running.
According to a study conducted by Washington state University the state needs as many as 1,200 dispensaries to serve the current medical marijuana patient group registered in the state of Washington. However, the state is only issuing out a total of 556 license.
Steve Lee, owner of Green2Go Garden Collective medical marijuana shop said he is having a lot of trouble getting his hands on a retail license. He may have to close his business because there are not enough licenses to go around, and this will affect the Tri Cities medical marijuana patient community.
“There are thousands and thousands of patients in our community that need access, safe access to safe cannabis,” said Lee. “And if we don’t give it to them they’re going to go to drug dealers.”
The original cost for a retail license is $1,000, but Lee said if he doesn’t get assigned one soon he may be purchasing one for a quarter million dollars from an industry entrepreneur who was able to get his hands on one.
“Big businesses have found ways to get a hold of the available licenses unfairly,” said Lee.
Medical marijuana patients in the community have also expressed concerns about how they’ll get their prescriptions filled, if Green2Go isn’t able to get their retail license.
Randy Bartoshevich is a medical marijuana patient who has degenerative arthritis, an evulsion fracture and chronic back pain in his spine.
He said when he smokes medical marijuana he can go through out his day without having to think about his back. He doesn’t want to turn to narcotics for his pain.
“I choose cannabis,” said Bartoshevich.
Bartoshevich said he’ll be losing a trusted source of his medicine if Green2GO closes, and because he is a busy college student, he has no time to drive out to Prosser, which where the closest legal shops are.
“It’s a five minute from the cable bridge, to here and it’s really not far at all. It’s a comfortable drive. Prosser is not,” said Bartoshevich.
In addition to helping Bartoshevich, Lee said his store helps many cancer patients.