• Tacoma's first pot store closed for owing $1.4 million in back taxes

    By: Kenny Ocker, The News Tribune

    Updated:

    TACOMA, Wash. - The Washington state Liquor and Cannabis Board canceled the license of Tacoma’s first marijuana retailer at noon Wednesday because of a $1.4 million delinquent tax bill.

    With the help of Tacoma police officers, LCB officers seized all marijuana products at Rainier on Pine, also known as Xander’s Green Goods, after the retailer was given multiple administrative violation notices, board spokesman Mikhail Carpenter said.

    The LCB moved to deny owner Alexander Rodriguez’s marijuana license in March 2017 because he was delinquent in paying nearly $768,000 in marijuana excise taxes starting in 2016, LCB documents show. That figure has now grown to $1.4 million. 

     “They’ve had several opportunities to become current on their taxes,” Carpenter said, saying that the board tries to work with licensees to get them into compliance. “In this particular case, even after several attempts to do so, they were still delinquent in tax payments by a pretty substantial amount.”

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    Phone calls to the store at 3111 S. Pine St., Rodriguez and his attorney all went unreturned Wednesday night. An email to Rodriguez also was not returned.

    When the license was canceled at noon, officers seized the remaining marijuana products at the store, Carpenter said.

    Rainier on Pine is seeking a stay of the board’s order, Carpenter said, and a hearing is scheduled for Feb. 16. If the license denial is not stayed, the store’s marijuana products will be destroyed.

    The $1.4 million tax bill is the largest Carpenter can recall, but he was unsure Wednesday afternoon if it was the largest any marijuana retailer had accrued in the state.

    Rainier on Pine had $13.1 million in sales from August 2014 through November 2017, according to 502data.com, a site that tracks marijuana sales and excise taxes in Washington. There is $4.7 million in total excise tax due, with $2.7 of that coming since 2016, when the board first documented issues with back taxes.

    The board sought summary judgment against Rainier on Pine to deny renewal of its cannabis license on Oct. 24, documents show. Administrative Law Judge Dawn Bettinger granted the summary judgment a week later, and Rodriguez petitioned to have the initial order reviewed later in November.

    The full board membership adopted Bettinger’s summary judgment decision on Jan. 4, denying the renewal of the license.

    “To hold a marijuana license or a liquor license in the state of Washington, you have to follow and obey the rules as set forth, and one of those rules says you must pay taxes,” Carpenter said.
     

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