Most of Tacoma's Medical Pot Shops Will Be Forced to Close

By McCarton Ackerman 08/13/15

More than 60 store owners will receive a letter ordering them to shut down.

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Dozens of medical marijuana shops are set to be forcibly closed down in Tacoma, Wash., with the city’s mayor deeming it unnecessary for a location with 200,000 people to have that many options to purchase the drug.

More than 60 medical marijuana store owners are set to receive a letter from the city ordering them to close shop within the next 45 days. Mayor Marilyn Strickland said that, “at a minimum, 48 of these stores need to close down permanently.”

The state Liquor Control Board has been tasked with deciding which shops and grow operations can be legitimized and allowed to remain open. Any store that opened before Jan. 1, 2013, has maintained a business license since July 2014 and has a documented history of paying state taxes and fees is up to be legitimized and can at least remain open until the state makes its licensing decisions.

Strickland also said she would give priorities to shops with a unionized workforce. Once an owner receives a letter ordering them to close, they have three days to appeal and the store cannot be open during that time.

City Attorney Elizabeth Pauli said 19 of the shops have paid some taxes and 10 have been operating since before 2013.

However, many local pot shop owners have said the city has not offered any guidance on how to operate what would be deemed a legitimate business. They’ve also slammed business owners who opened up pot shops near churches and schools, declaring that they’re responsible for the complaints received about these establishments that include excessive noise and public consumption.

"We followed what little rules they gave us,” said Louis Archuleta, owner of The Herbal Garden in Tacoma. “The state’s not even enforcing the regulations they do have, and when you try to get a straight answer, you can’t get a straight answer about anything.”

Ironically, Strickland’s decision comes less than a week after the Tacoma Armory announced they will host the Northwest Cannabis Classic from Aug. 28-30. The three-day marijuana trade show will include vendor booths, pot-related seminars and a cannabis competition.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.