An unlicensed Vashon medical marijuana shop is still operating on the islands main highway more than a month after dispensaries without proper licensing were closed across the state.
Island Cure, on the south end of Vashon in the 17900 block of Vashon Highway SW, has been operating past July 1, which was the deadline for folding Washingtons medical marijuana market into the states tightly regulated retail cannabis system.
A bright neon open sign above a three-foot-high green cross marks the building. Two other signs advertised the business along the street. A search Wednesday for licensed retail marijuana shop locations on the states Liquor and Cannabis Board website showed only one unused, non-activated license for a different business on the island.
Island Cure owner Kevin Bergins reason for staying open is simple.
Nobody told me to shut it down, Bergin said Tuesday.
He said he never received any letters or verbal instructions to stop running his business.
Then when I asked a cop two days before (July 1), he goes What for? Bergin said.
King County Sheriffs Office spokeswoman Cindi West said it wasnt her departments responsibility to initiate enforcement.
We might enforce a grow operation at a house, but not in a business, she said.
The situation would be different in Pierce County.
We would work the case, serve a search warrant and send the case to the prosecutor, Pierce County Sheriffs spokesman Ed Troyer said Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the state Liquor and Cannabis Board works only with licensed marijuana shops. Because Bergins operation is unlicensed, its not their responsibility, said department spokesman Brian Smith.
However, agents from LCB would accompany law enforcement on a dispensary shutdown if requested.
We would offer our assistance if needed, Smith said. We have the authorization to seize all the products, after first verifying the store is not licensed and its products are not in the registered supply chain.
The King County Prosecuting Attorneys Office is looking into Island Cures situation.
Spokesman Dan Donohoe said Wednesday that his office has closed more than 15 stores in unincorporated King County through the threat of civil action.
That is something we could pursue with any other unlicensed stores, Donohoe said.
The situation has been different in other counties.
On July 25, the Thurston County Narcotics Task Force seized marijuana, edibles, candies, creams and growing marijuana plants from Sonshine Organics Network in Olympia.
Joe Hyer, a spokesman for Sonshine, said that dispensaries should have been given 90 days to shut down after July 1. That would have given time for businesses and patients to better transition to medically endorsed recreational stores with a more complete product selection for patients.
Those dispensaries that bled down their inventory before July 1 were doing a disservice to their patients, Hyer said.
He supports Island Cures continued operation.
Pierce County sheriffs deputies shut down an unlicensed marijuana dispensary July 6 that had continued to operate in close proximity to the sheriffs Parkland Spanaway detachment headquarters.
Deputies served a warrant on the Green Organics store, seizing marijuana products and paraphernalia and arresting the owner on suspicion of illegal sale of marijuana and selling marijuana to a minor.
Meanwhile, Island Cure continues to sell marijuana.
Theres people out here who need it, Bergin said.
News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: Vashon Pot Dispensary Continues To Sell After July 1 Cutoff
Author: Craig Sailor
Photo Credit: Craig Sailor
Website: The News Tribune