Seattle pot shop ‘not losing sleep’ over White House warning

Feb 23, 2017, 5:21 PM | Updated: 6:23 pm

Washington state may be headed for a confrontation with the feds after statements from the White House on Thursday about recreational marijuana.

“I do believe you will see greater enforcement of (marijuana laws),” said White House press secretary Sean Spicer.

Related: Washington marijuana sales top $1.1 billion

Spicer connected the issue of recreational marijuana with the current opiate addiction crisis. He said:

When you see something like the opioid addiction crisis blossoming in so many states around this country, the last thing we should be doing is encouraging people. There is still a federal law that we need to abide by when it comes to recreational marijuana and drugs of that nature.

Marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, despite a handful of states legalizing it for recreational purposes. Under the Obama administration, federal authorities opted not to go against the states’ decisions to legalize the drug. But with a new attorney general, Jeff Sessions, that all could change. Sessions is known for his opposition to the legalization of drugs, marijuana included. On the campaign trail, Trump said he opposes recreational marijuana. Yet, he also said the issue should be left up to the states.

Recreational marijuana vs. the feds

Last week, Governor Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson requested a meeting with Sessions to discuss marijuana laws.

Local pot shops weren’t as worried after Donald Trump was elected, but that was before Thursday’s statements. Ian Eisenberg with Seattle’s Uncle Ike’s pot shop — among the state’s most successful operations — is not too worried about the feds vs. states issue on marijuana, just yet.

“It just sounds like more of the same,” he said. “I’m not losing any sleep over it.”

“There was always a feeling that Trump would be tough on recreational pot, not on medical,” Eisenberg said. “But that’s from the White House. If the Department of Justice says something, that would be different.”

If there is an eventual concern, according to Eisenberg, it’s a change to the Cole Memo. It was issued under the Obama administration and allowed the shops to use credit unions and other financial services. Following Trump’s election, Eisenberg said:

That gives us services like armored car pickup, regular checking accounts – paying our bills by check, paying employees by check. My fear would be if the feds change the Cole Memo, the credit unions would have to rethink if they want to be involved with this industry. If they pull out, everything would change. It would be a cash-only business … You would have employees being paid in cash, they would be a target for crime.

The Washington marijuana business has been hugely successful, raking in millions of dollars and sending considerable tax revenue to the state. Seattle has even promoted legislation to expand the industry. Each day in Washington, pot shops take in more than $4 million. Since last July, $184 million in tax revenue has gone to the state from marijuana sales.


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Seattle pot shop ‘not losing sleep’ over White House warning