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Medical marijuana dispensaries support Spokane moratorium

By Ian Cull, KXLY4 Multimedia Journalist, ianc@kxly.com
Published On: Feb 26 2013 07:59:26 PM CST
Marijuana
SPOKANE, Wash, -

You won't see any new medical marijuana dispensaries popping up in Spokane for awhile after the city council passed a moratorium on them Monday night.

There are only about a dozen known medical dispensaries in the city right now and city leaders want to keep it that way because they worry about the intentions of new potential owners.

At The Herbal Connection they have pot for sale, but only if you have a prescription. Soon, however, doctor's orders won't matter.

"The moratorium is great. I think it's what we need right now," Robert Metzger said.

Metzger helped start the medical marijuana dispensary The Herbal Connection a year ago. He's glad someone is regulating the medical side of cannabis so there won't be another massive federal shut down like in 2011.

"If you have people opening up shops left and right, we're going to see what we had before in Spokane where they're on every street corner on Division. We can't have that," he said.

It's why the city council passed a moratorium Monday night to put the process on hold and to make sure new dispensaries don't try to become pot shops in December.

"I don't want to see Spokane's reputation as being business-friendly be tarnished by something like this," Spokane City Councilman Jon Snyder said.

Many in the medical cannabis community are just as protective of their collectives as they are the principle of their business. Many don't want to become recreational stores; it's not why they were created.

Metzger worries if people try to work the system -- to be ahead of the game in December -- it will hurt dispensaries later.

"They would have to force us to go 502, because we don't want to service the recreational field. We want to take care of our patients in a medical field," he explained.

The moratorium lasts six months and the city needs to hold a public hearing within 60 days to keep the hold in place.

So why won't the medical marijuana dispensaries switch to recreational marijuana, which could be a boon to their bottom line? It might increase business but not necessarily their profits.

Recreational marijuana will be taxed 25-percent three times while medical marijuana won't. However, there is a bill in the legislature to tax medical cannabis 25-percent. If passed, some medical dispensaries may make the jump.

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