Seattle pot shop owner responds to new federal weed policy

Jan 4, 2018, 4:53 PM | Updated: 5:00 pm
pot shops, seattle pot shop, destruction...
(Courtesy photo)
(Courtesy photo)

The owner of a Seattle pot shop isn’t too worried about federal raids now that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has knocked down an Obama-era policy the marijuana industry relied upon. But there are other concerns to worry about.

“It doesn’t mean that jackbooted thugs are going to start breaking into and raiding pot shops and pot grows,” Ian Eisenberg said. “It just takes away one level of certainty we have in the industry.”

RELATED: Pot shop near church causes controversy

There are two main issues to watch out for now and they have more to do with financial hazards than police raids, according to Eisenberg who owns one of Seattle’s most prominent pot shops — Uncle Ike’s. He has three stores in the area. His shop, like all pot businesses, has operated under the Cole Memo — a policy that has allowed state recreational pot businesses to operate despite federal laws against them. Under the Cole Memo, the shops could have bank accounts and other services.

“From day one here we’ve had credit unions … that is the big fear right now; how the credit unions or the banks will react to what Sessions has done,” Eisenberg said. “If we lost the ability to have money management through a credit union or an armored car pick up, it increases the risk to public safety. You are going to have a lot more cash on hand, private cash transfers like paying tax bills in cash instead of wire transfers or checks. That’s a real concern – you don’t want to put employees at risk, you don’t want to put the public at risk. And that would be a very unfortunate consequence of what Sessions has done.”

The other issue is the overall investment in the industry which has shown great success and produced immense tax revenue for the government.

RELATED: Washington pot sales reach new high

“Another consequence of what Sessions has done is there was more institutional money flowing into the industry,” Eisenberg said. “A common complaint (of the industry) is that minorities and people of color have a hard time getting a leg up in the industry, and money was flowing in to allow other people to get financing to start up. I think now we will see a lot of financing disappear. A lot of people that were investing in the industry were doing so because they were comfortable with the Cole Memo. Now with that off the table, the perceived risks and maybe actual risks are higher so I think the investment in the industry will dry up a little bit.”

Seattle pot shop defense

On the positive side, Eisenberg says that Washington has leaders who are up to the challenge and potential legal fights. He points to Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes. Holmes made headlines in the past over his lax attitude toward enforcing marijuana laws, and the fact he once brought weed to work at city hall. There’s also state Attorney General Bob Ferguson who is no stranger to suing the Trump administration and the federal government. Ferguson sued them 18 times in 2017.

“These are people who understand cannabis,” Eisenberg said. “They understand how it would help the state and patients to have a legal framework and I think they will do the right thing and give us guidance in how to run our businesses in the best way possible to not attract federal attention.”

In the wake of Sessions’ announcement Thursday, Western District U.S. Attorney Annette Hayes issued a statement that said her office has focused on violent and organized crime related to marijuana in the past. She said “We will continue to do so to ensure – consistent with the most recent guidance from the Department – that our enforcement efforts with our federal, state, local and tribal partners focus on those who pose the greatest safety risk to the people and communities we serve.”

For example, Hayes has brought cases dealing with gangs and gun crime in the past. She also prosecuted a case against a Seattle police officer accused of transporting marijuana across the country.

“It’s probably too early to know what the effects are going to be,” he said. “It’s obviously not good for the industry, and it’s not good for the consumers and patients out there. It adds another level of chaos, which Trump seems really good at creating.”

Local News

Washington ferries...
MyNorthwest Staff

Washington ferries move ‘most routes’ to alternate schedules amid ongoing crew shortages

Washington state ferries have continued to deal with delays, staffing shortages, and reduced routes to kick of the new year.
11 hours ago
Cars at Pike Place Market...
Nick Bowman

Early friction surfaces in bid to remove cars from Pike Place Market

Efforts to remove cars from Pike Place Market are encountering early friction, with one group accusing city council of overstepping its authority. 
11 hours ago
flight, 5G...
Chris Sullivan

Major US airlines warn of flight disruptions Wednesday as new 5G service starts

Many airlines are warning of flight delays Wednesday as new 5G frequencies are fired up by cell phone companies that could interfere with landing.
11 hours ago
garbage, strike...
MyNorthwest Staff

Teamster-backed sanitation worker strike continues in Western Washington

Sanitation workers employed by Republic Services in Seattle, Bellevue, Lynnwood and Kent continue to strike Tuesday morning.
11 hours ago
King County, jail...
Dalton Day

King County jail ‘crisis’ prompts joint request for release of non-violent offenders

Public defenders are demanding that King County take immediate action to relieve a short-staffed jail system overburdened with COVID cases.
1 day ago
Community councils...
Nick Bowman

State lawmakers aim to dismantle ‘NIMBY at its core’ by ending community councils

A group of state lawmakers are looking to phase out Washington's last two remaining community councils in a bid to expand housing options.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles


Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.

Delayed-Onset PTSD: Signs and Symptoms

Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers SPONSORED — You’re probably familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder. Often abbreviated as PTSD, this condition is diagnosed when a person experiences a set of symptoms for at least a month after a traumatic event. However, for some people, these issues take longer to develop. This results in a diagnosis of delayed-onset PTSD […]

Medicare open enrollment ends Dec. 7. Free unbiased help is here!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]
Seattle pot shop owner responds to new federal weed policy