Selling legal marijuana has different implications than selling marijuana on the black market. Similarly, distributing medical marijuana has different requirements than from selling recreational-use marijuana.
According to Business Week, pot sellers in Washington State are lobbying against a marijuana market. Though the state legalized recreational marijuana last year, a 1998 law also gave pot smokers legal protection if they had a note recommending marijuana for medical use. Under this provision, marijuana dispensaries were able to sell pot for medical use. Without setting up infrastructure for use, including patient registry or ID cards, the medical marijuana market thrived.
After marijuana was legalized for recreational use, everyone was able to buy and sell weed, even without a doctor’s note. The 2012 initiative also established a tax system and licensing regime to be followed by pot growers and retailers registered with the Washington State Liquor Control Board. The agency is responsible for regulating and overseeing product testing and labeling. According to reports, recreational pot has become 50 percent more expensive than medical marijuana, which can still be purchased on the black market.
According to critics, those who buy pot legally for recreational use must pay significantly more than those who simply purchase medical marijuana.
To fight against the economic threat of medical marijuana, retailers have hired lobbyists to regulate medical cannabis the same way recreational pot is regulated.
According to reports, retailers want medical marijuana to face the same safety scrutiny. In addition, the critics of the current medical marijuana system say that those who aren’t “true patients” should be forced to buy the higher-taxed product on the recreational market.
Buying pot in an unregulated market may cost $10 per gram. It’s the same story if you buy medical marijuana. On the other hand, buying recreational pot makes you subject to excise taxes which total, approximately 44 percent of the retail price. This means that you will end up paying about $15 per gram.
Currently, the state doesn’t have an exact count of medical marijuana dispensaries. Regulators do know the medical dispensaries outweigh the number of recreational stores licensed to open. There are about 300 dispensaries in Seattle, but only two licenses were issued. A new bill sponsored by the state’s Republican Senate Majority Whip, Ann Rivers, requires that medical dispensaries meet the same licensing and product standards that puts restrictions on recreational pot. Under the new law, medical use would be restricted to oils, edibles, and other concentrated forms. Pot smokers of any kind would have to buy from recreational stores.
Another bill, drafted by a Democratic Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles, would put recreational distributors in charge of distributing medical pot. Currently, the dispute is ongoing between recreational users, who believe that they aren’t getting a fair shake, and medical users who have had rights to possess marijuana legally since 1998. California has not yet reached this debate, as recreational marijuana is still not legalized. Our Orange County marijuana dispensary lawyers can help inform you about medical marijuana rights in California. We also represent individuals who are under investigation or who have been charged with a marijuana crime.
The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 949-375-4734.
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Budget Bill Includes Historic Measure to End DOJ Enforcement, Dec. 20, 2014, Los Angeles Marijuana Lawyer Blog