- Mayor Ed Murray's office wants to crack down on the dudes delivering weed to your door.
Remember back in January when the Seattle Police Department told The Stranger that marijuana-delivery services “probably” didn’t warrant police action?
That's about to change.
In a December 10 meeting, David Mendoza, a policy adviser in the mayor’s office, told a few members of the city council that the administration wants the Seattle Police Department to crack down on weed-delivery services. And in case council members doubted whether these services really exist, Mendoza told them: “The Stranger—you can open that up and find 7 or 10 business providing those services any day of the week. There’s no provision for them. We feel we should close them down.” (Has this guy ever heard of Weedmaps? Or Leafly? The pages of The Stranger certainly aren't the only place to find these services.)
Anyway, it’s true, people in the know say that pot delivery is unequivocally illegal and a felony offense. It's not allowed under Washington’s medical marijuana law, or under I-502, which legalized recreational pot. The services are often accused, like some dispensaries, of providing pot without requesting a medical authorization. But until now, they've basically been ignored by law enforcement.
The mayor’s office now plans to direct police to shut down the city's delivery services and possibly use what Mendoza called a “one strike” program, offering them the chance to escape criminal charges—but have their weed seized—the first time they’re caught.
But that wasn’t all Mendoza was there to say.
He also gave council members a look at the administration’s proposed new rules to crack down on medical marijuana dispensaries, which operate in a legal gray area and are almost certain to be the target of reform in Olympia this session. (The rules are expected to come up for a vote next month.) The number of medical marijuana dispensaries is rapidly growing in the city, according to Mendoza, who was unapologetic about the mayor's aims: “Our goal is to stop this growth."
Essentially, the city wants to create a “certification” (sort of like a business license) for collective gardens. To be clear, this is not the same as the state license the city told dispensaries to get even though the license doesn't actually exist yet. These new city "certifications" would be granted only to dispensaries that followed new city rules and would give the city the authority to shut down those that aren't following them. The proposed new rules also include:
• Using opaque packaging that doesn’t appeal to children on edible products.
• Possible bans on certain edibles that could be especially enticing to kids.
• Following testing and labeling requirements similar to, or more stringent than, what the state requires for licensed recreational growers.
• Operating dispensaries at least 500 feet from schools, day cares, and parks, and 1,000 feet (three to four city blocks) from other dispensaries.
Considering the sheer number of dispensaries in the city, those distance requirements could bring a new hardship. Remember how hard it was for recreational businesses to find a location that met all the distance limitations and had a willing landlord?
Mendoza said the city was also considering creating rules for I-502-licensed recreational stores that mirror the state’s limits on things like signage and advertising, so that if a store is in violation the city can penalize them without having to wait for the state to do it.