Tacoma dispensaries ordered to stop selling medical marijuana


TACOMA, Wash. - More than two dozen dispensaries in Tacoma have started receiving letters to stop selling medicinal marijuana due to being public nuisances.


About two days ago, three stores received the cease and desist orders from the city that they have until Sept. 17 to stop their sales.


Dispensary owners said that the law regulating their stores is confusing, and they aren’t sure how to stay in compliance.


Three of 22 dispensaries have received their letters because the city said all three violated city code and are classified as public nuisances. The other dispensaries will face the same order.


“These were the three businesses that received the first letters. There’s no reason why [these three], it was just a starting point,” said Danielle Larson of Tacoma Code Enforcement.


Jay Berneburg, an attorney for two of the dispensaries, said it’s not certain that his clients are in violation of city codes.


“What we have here is an issue. A dispensary is a, per se, public nuisance. A collective garden is not, yet the definitions don’t clearly make any distinction or difference between the two,” said Berneburg.


Berneburg told KIRO 7 the city allows medical marijuana collective gardens, not dispensaries, but that the language in the city code that describes the two is nearly identical, causing confusion for his clients, who are trying to comply with the law.


According to the city of Tacoma, the three dispensaries are in sensitive areas. They are near schools and parks, and one of the dispensaries was across the street from a community center.


“These have been identified as operating as potentially dispensaries within sensitive areas,” said Larson.


Berneburg plans to fight the cease and desist orders, but first through administrative hearings. If necessary it will be in courts. 


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