At the end of our conversation about the historic $15 minimum wage vote yesterday, I asked Mayor Ed Murray about a comment he made during one of his recent press conferences about shakeups at the Seattle Police Department about "so-called medical marijuana dispensaries" that are "concentrated on a single street in a single neighborhood."There would be problems related to crime if all your painkillers were being sold on one street, or all your hard liquor was being sold on one street."
He was referring, of course, to Rainier Ave. S., where pot co-ops with names like New Millennium Collective, Herbal Health Care Center, Seattle's Best Cannabis, and Altercare line the street; in several cases, there are multiple dispensaries on the same block. I asked Murray if he thought the dispensaries were sham operations selling pot to people who aren't actually sick, and what his concern is with the high concentration of pot dispensaries in Southeast Seattle.
Here's Murray's response:
I think there are real medical marijuana businesses out there. [But] I think there are other operators that we’re unsure about, and I do think if we were to concentrate all the pharmacies or all the liquor stores in one neighborhood, there would be fallout from that. There would be problems related to crime if all your painkillers were being sold on one street, or all your hard liquor was being sold on one street.
And I think the fact that the state has left the medical marijuana question sort of waving in the wind without an answer [by failing to adopt new rules regulating medical marijuana after voters legalized recreational pot last year] is hard for us. We’re hearing from Southeast Seattle, we’re hearing from the African-American and East African communities, that they believe they are inundated with folks that are creating problems for them. So we’re trying to address that. Because the legislature didn’t act, there isn’t a lot to do. So we’re exploring what do we do to make sure there isn’t a concentration and to make sure that we’re dealing with legitimate medical marijuana.