WA: Medical Marijuana Shutdown Boosts Retail Pot Sales


The shutdown of medical cannabis dispensaries in June proved a boon for Kitsap County’s recreational marijuana industry.

Sales by state-licensed marijuana retailers shot up nearly 20 percent in July, reaching $2.15 million, according to data published by the Liquor and Cannabis Board. All 12 active stores in the county reported an uptick in sales.

“We definitely saw a bump in business,” said Sharla Engle, purchasing manager for Destination Highway 420 in Bremerton.

Unlicensed dispensaries were forced to close by July 1 under a state law that overhauled the state’s medical marijuana industry. Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office served notice to eight dispensaries in the unincorporated county before the deadline. Deputy Scott Wilson said all of the operations closed as required.

Patients who’ve received authorization from a medical provider can join a registry and purchase their products from recreational marijuana stores without paying the 37 percent state excise tax (other taxes still apply). A number of stores in the county received medical endorsements from the state to serve registered patients. Identification cards are issued at the stores.

Engle said Destination Highway 420 issued more than 100 ID cards since the rules took effect. But stocking the specialized products used by some medical marijuana patients has been nearly impossible, she said. Recreational marijuana stores have to purchase from state-licensed marijuana growers and processors, and many of those companies haven’t begun producing medically-approved products, which require additional testing.

“Basically right now there aren’t any,” Engle said.

To fill the gap, some stores stocked up on products with higher cannabidiol, or CBD, content available through the recreational market. Cannabis with higher CBD content is often preferred by people using marijuana for medicinal purposes because it has fewer side effects than strains with high tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.

Several store owners said they were offering special discounts to medical patients making the switch to recreational stores.

“We are really trying to be sensitive to the needs of the patients who now turn to us for their medicine,” Kathy Hartwell at Pacific Cannabis Co. in Bremerton said.

For more information on the new medical marijuana rules, go to doh.wa.gov.

News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: Medical Marijuana Shutdown Boosts Retail Pot Sales
Author: Tad Sooter
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Photo Credit: Ed Andrieski
Website: Kitsap Peninsula Business Journal