Unlicensed medical marijuana dispensaries in Seattle will be closed: Ed Murray

Unlicensed medical marijuana dispensaries in Seattle will be closed: Ed Murray

On Tuesday, Seattle's Mayor Ed Murray said the city's dozens of medical marijuana dispensaries that are operating without a license will be shut down.

The city said that this is a part of a statewide effort to bring together the unregulated system with the voter-approved recreational pot industry.

Murray stated that he would start to shut down those stores first that have been opened recently and haven't been paying taxes. The ones that are left standing would be offered legitimacy through a city license.

The Mayor summarized a series of regulatory changes in how cannabis operations will do business in the city. He said the new rules would improve the marketplace for patients who depend on medical marijuana.

At a news conference, Murray said, "We're strengthening the recreational marijuana market and creating safer, more consistent access for those who rely on medicinal products".

Although marijuana remains illegal under federal law, voters in Washington state and Colorado approved recreational cannabis use in landmark votes in 2012.

However, loosely controlled medical marijuana industry legalized in 1998 has run alongside the highly taxed and regulated recreational-use system in Washington.

Washington's Governor Jay Inslee signed a bill last month to fix the medical industry so that it moves in line with the recreational marketplace.

The changes that will happen in Seattle over the next 13 months are part of an effort to transition medical businesses into the framework of the recreational law.

The new rules are expected to be approved by the City Council. They will seek both medical and recreational storefronts to get hold of business licenses specific to the industry.

City officials said there are currently about 300 medical operations in Seattle. The stores that are business without a license will be able to apply for a city or state permit by July 2016.