A visit to my son in Shoreline, WA gave me an opportunity to compare WA dispensaries to Coachella Valley. WA passed the most obstructive law for medical marijuana (MM). A loophole in the Cannabis Patient Protection Act (SB 5052) gave dispensary licenses to the most ignorant budtenders in the industry. See Tobias Coughlin-Bogue’s article in theStranger on July 13,2016.  

On July 1, 2016 when the Cannabis Patient Protection Act (SB 5052) took effect, all dispensaries without an I-502 license were forced to shut down, sending many of the state’s MM patients into a panic. Patients learned that the recreational market doesn’t have enough affordable medicinal cannabis (MC) for their needs. Many point to the fact that the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) issued only 222 new retail licenses to replace more than 1,500 MM dispensaries.

Thanks to a loophole in the state’s licensing process, the longtime medical dispensary operations were shut out of the recreational market. New actors were able to game the system by buying pay stubs from former MM dispensary employees to bolster their applications.


The dispensary I entered had a large storefront, was unnerving to find no locked area and shocking to find only one applicable MC product; Wildflower cannabis capsules of 30:1 CBD:THC. (

Most everything else in the dispensary was recreational cannabis. All were in excessively tight child proof packages, poorly labeled as to the ratio of CBD:THC, missing dosage information, too many included preservatives, did not distinguish hemp from whole flower, and were packaged in small doses not conducive to a need for 20-30mg of CBD or THC. Even the terminology they used to explain products was misleading. They called everything an edible, and were not able to distinguish between the benefits of a sativa, indica, or a hybrid product. Any budtender in Coachella Valley who goes through a Greensight recommendation clinic can learn that.

I could not find lotions or creams for arthritis, muscle aches, or cancer wounds. Even the vape pen cartridges looked suspect, they had single use vape pens. The owner, a nurse practitioner, informed me that the law took away access to medicinal cannabis and made it illegal for him to educate his customers. Recreational cannabis has taken over WA State. What a shame. The voters, in their haste to approve recreational use, were hoodwinked. Currently there are five states that have legalized recreational cannabis use and based on the WA experience this does not improve the access for treatment of medical disease.

Since California was the first state to legalize MM all dispensaries currently have a medicinal license and display medicinal grade cannabis. States unfortunately are not learning from each other when they pass laws. I believe CA allows the best access to medical grade products. Remember my article of September 6, 2017 where I explained away the confusion between medicinal vs recreational cannabis? Well just enter a dispensary in WA State to illustrate that belief. A picture is worth a thousand words. Now admittedly, I only went into one dispensary. But I have the word of many reliable Washingtonians that the recreational use law has been a disaster for medical use.

CA residents can be content medical dispensaries are not going away come January 1, 2017. Our recreational law will have some loopholes the law does not vacate the medicinal licenses. CA dispensaries will have one or two licenses, but the medical license will not be touched.

To put the issue in practical terms the WA law denies access to medicinal grade full plant cannabis oil for children with seizures and force medical patients into the black market. This will deny the cities and state valuable anticipated tax revenues. Hopefully CA recreational regulations will not be so onerous. My consistent view has always been that until the federal government reclassifies cannabis and the banking issue is resolved the black market will continue to exist.

It behooves the user of MC to engage in self-education for choosing and using cannabis responsibly and continue to be engaged in the legislative process. Visit

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