Liquor Control Board looks to get involved in medical marijuana



Posted on July 11, 2014 at 1:27 PM

SPOKANE, Wash.--With marijuana legal in Washington State, some were wondering what it would mean for the medical side of the drug. The Liquor Control Board wanted to get involved in medical marijuana.

Members of the medical marijuana industry were worried that their patients would have to pay more and lose out on the help they needed if the Liquor Control Board took over. Members of the Liquor Control Board said medical marijuana needed regulation and was a way for the state to earn more money.

Staff at Northside Alternative Wellness Center, a medical marijuana dispensary in North Spokane, said they could provide the type of cannabis that is low on the effect of getting high but helpful in treating cancer.

"The medical patients come first, we really, really. Really need to fight to keep our medical marijuana program in first,” said Jenn Lorz with Northside Alternative Wellness Center.

Staff worried that their clients would have to go to a store selling recreational pot. They worried that would mean long lines and higher prices for their clients.

Members of the Liquor Control Board said changes were likely coming to the medical marijuana industry.

"I would say that the U.S. Department of Justice has been clear, this is an unregulated market, it's untenable, it can't continue in its present form,” said Chris Marr with the Liquor Control Board.

Staff at the dispensary said they were not against paying taxes and some regulation. They said they did not want to be mixed in with recreational marijuana stores.

"They wouldn't get the medicine they need and they would be forced to go to the black market,” said Lorz.

Lorz was worried about patients having to take care of themselves if both sides merged.

"Not everybody can throw up some lights and grow, it's a very expensive, expensive process,” said Lorz.

The Liquor Control Board admitted that there were concerns for patients. Leaders said the state had to consider the money it could earn from taxing the industry and getting a larger share of the marijuana business.

The State Legislature would ultimately decide if the Liquor Control Board should regulate both recreational and medical marijuana. The Liquor Control Board has recommended to lawmakers that it could handle both sides of the drug.