Changes are coming to Washington’s marijuana industry – on July 1, 2106 medical marijuana collective gardens and dispensaries in Washington State must shut their doors. The third edition of my ebook – Turning Green to Gold has just been released and details these and other changes to the State’s marijuana regulatory system.
The merger of the recreational and marijuana industry represents a big change for both marijuana business owners and consumers. As of next week in Washington State, medical marijuana may only be legally purchased at state licensed I502 retail stores that hold medical marijuana endorsements. In order to maintain a medical marijuana endorsement, marijuana retailers must:
- Have a licensed medical marijuana consultant on staff
- Maintain an assortment of medical marijuana products
- Not marketing medical marijuana products in a way that would make them attractive to minors
- Demonstrate the ability to enter qualifying patients and designated providers into the medical marijuana authorization database
- Issue recognition cards to qualifying patients and designated providers
- Keep copies of the recognition cards or equivalent records for a minimum of three years
- Train employees on entering information into the medical marijuana database, recognizing valid recognition cards, and recognizing strains, varieties, and THC and CBD concentration and ratios of marijuana products available for sale when assisting qualifying patients and designated providers
The question for business owners is whether the burden of complying with the above rules as well as those promulgated by the Department of Health is outweighed by the potential profit of serving the medical marijuana market.
Next week, qualifying patients will be able to take advantage of being able to buy three times the amount of marijuana product that a recreational customer would be able to purchase. These increased transactional limits alone may make it profitable for retailers to serve the medical marijuana market. But, marijuana products with higher THC and CBD ratios will likely take more time to come to market, thus, limiting the assortment of medical marijuana products available for retail sales.
Most licensed I502 retailers have applied for medical marijuana endorsements, but whether these retailers will actually end up serving the medical marijuana market remains to be seen. Eliminating the black market depends on bringing both recreational and medical marijuana users into the state’s regulated system. If the number of licensed I502 retailers proves insufficient to serve both of these market then the state may need to consider its regulatory approach.
For more information on the regulation of marijuana businesses, please contact Heather Wolf.