Your typical farmers market carries heirloom tomatoes, squash, watermelon and salami. Now add weed to the list.
Medical Marijuana Dispensaries in Washington State reopened their popular medical marijuana farmer’s market in Seattle Oct. 6. The offerings at the World Famous Cannabis Farmers Market included everything from dried herbs to lotions.
But it’s not clear what lies in the future for this cutting-edge approach to marijuana sales. Washington voters approved recreational pot in November 2012, and while state officials are still working out the rules, a battle over large-scale markets has already begun.
Plans for a pot market in Colorado, for example, stalled because the state’s regulations only allow marijuana transactions in limited indoor spaces. But the creators of the private Seattle market said they plan to fight for the rights of the patients they serve.
“It’s so important for everybody that actually values medical cannabis to defend their medical cannabis rights,” said market co-director Jeremy Miller.
The farmer’s market moved back to Seattle after it was shut down in Tacoma. Organizers plan to open the stands on the 1st and 3rd Sunday of each month. Patients will be allowed to use medical weed in designated areas.
Washington and Colorado are the only two states in the country – and the only two major political entities on the planet – that have legalized and will soon regulate the sale of weed. Washington officials unveiled proposed regulations early in September.
Those rules, which will undergo public hearing this month, will take effect in November. Among other restrictions, they limit the places where pot can be sold to 334 stores, with a limit of 21 in Seattle. Stores must be licensed and regulated by the state.
Medical pot, meanwhile, will continue to be sold in regulated dispensaries, all of which have traditionally been located indoors.
Marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, but the Department of Justice announced in late August that it won’t interfere with states that legalize recreational or medical pot as long as they enforce certain federal priorities, such as preventing violence and keeping weed away from kids. But federal law enforcement is much more likely to intervene and prosecute sellers when those priorities, or state laws, are violated.
In other words, the Seattle market may not last long, at least not as it is. If the police don’t shut it down, as they did in Tacoma, the feds likely will.
But the market could serve as a template for future marijuana delivery. It may be possible to regulate occasional convention-style markets for medical marijuana that conform to federal priorities and other state rules.