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The Apple Store of pot dispensaries


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That’s what one article called the San Francisco Patient and Resource Center, a medical marijuana dispensary that opened for business in the South of Market area. California legalized medicinal use of marijuana back in 1996 and in this November’s election many California cities are asking voters how to regulate and tax medical marijuana. In 1998 Washington voters followed suit allowing use of marijuana for patients with debilitating and terminal illness. This is an issue likely to show more and more on the radar of cities in Washington.  In fact, the City of Tacoma is currently wrestling with how to interpret the dispensing law since while the state law allows use of medical marijuana, it doesn’t explain how patients can access marijuana if they don’t grow it themselves. Eight dispensaries have opened in Tacoma, but complaints about traffic and smell have prompted city officials to closely scrutinize whether the new co-ops and dispensaries are operating legally.  Recently, the city sent letters to the dispensers threatening to close them down. A truce was reached, though, as the dispensers and the city wait for the 2011 legislature to clarify the rules.

The SPARC space was highlighted in the recent New York Times “T” design magazine. The store looks like a cross between the Apple Store, a Danish pharmacy and a modern Japanese tea store — all light woods, glass and clean lighting. It’s a smartly thought out entry into a market that will likely expand as people become more knowledgeable about the rules for dispensing medical marijuana.  It’s the polar opposite of what some people think might happen with wider acceptance of medical marijuana use – dark spaces, blocked-out windows, furtive patrons.

I bring this up not just because the San Francisco shop design caught my eye, but because this becomes a city regulation issue. Seattle will likely see an increase in dispensaries as the law becomes clearer and operating a dispensary becomes less risky. Perhaps no one will be surprised that one dispensary already operates in Fremont (go figure). What about business and occupation taxes?  Should we regulate them the same as pharmacies? What about land use rules? Clear rules and operating in the light of day seems better than murky rules and operating out-of-sight.

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Comment from Developer
Time November 1, 2010 at 8:04 am

There will be some sort of official voting in Thursday. So we’ll wait for their decision.

Comment from Mike @ Megamind
Time November 1, 2010 at 5:42 pm

I agree that a “clear set of rules” needs to be established. I also feel that since this marijauna is a prescription drug/medicine that is should be treated as such, with all the same laws and rules of any other medicine, the question “should be”, what classification of medicine and rules should marijuana be placed under?

As for the dispensaries, they too, should have to abide by the laws and/or certifications that any other drug manufacturers (in the same classification) must endure.

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