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Washington became one of the first states to legalize marijuana for recreational use in 2012. But there are a lot of challenges ahead: the state must set up a licensing system for marijuana growers and sellers, the federal government may mount a challenge, the need to set a new limit on amount of marijuana in the bloodstream for safe driving. And medical marijuana is still in the picture.Over the next several months we will be exploring the issue and tracking the impact of I-502.

Seattle Seeks Legal Marijuana Delivery Alternatives

Seattle officials say the city’s 24 marijuana delivery businesses are illegal and now outnumber its 19 licensed stores. To combat the problem, Seattle officials are pledging a crackdown as well as a new legal delivery option.


Alex Cooley is the co-founder of the marijuana producer Solstice. His business has been one of the first to receive state and city licenses. But he said businesses like his can’t compete with illegal home delivery services.    

Cooley: “If I were able to conduct a criminal enterprise where law enforcement doesn’t care and my consumer does not care that it’s illegal and they’re breaking the law – what’s going to stop me?”

Solstice recently joined that competition by offering delivery for medical marijuana patients. Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes said he’s dismayed that Solstice would take that step as a state-licensed business. Holmes said there are good reasons to offer delivery, but only if it’s made legal first.  

Holmes: “If we can make ourselves safer on the highways, if we can help adults who need access who can’t otherwise get it, or people with medical authorizations, then it makes sense to do it within the legal regimen.”

Seattle is asking legislators to approve a pilot program in which five licensed retailers would be permitted to offer home deliveries.

Seth Dawson is with the Washington Association for Substance Abuse Prevention. At a recent legislative hearing, he said he’s concerned that deliveries make youth access easier.

Dawson: “The deliverer may not have any idea that kids are present, and yet someone of age has been tapped to secure the marijuana.”

The program's sponsor, Rep. Christopher Hurst, agreed and said he inserted a provision that any store delivering to someone under 21 will lose its place in the pilot.  

Hurst: “I wouldn’t have even been slightly interested in this bill if it didn’t come with a promise from Seattle that they were going to use this as part of the vehicle to shut down all the deliveries that are going on today.”

Hurst said he’s impressed with Seattle’s efforts to close down unlicensed medical marijuana stores. Seattle officials are promising a similar crackdown on illegal delivery businesses using civil and criminal penalties.

Clarification, 4:15 p.m., 2/4/16:  Solstice, the marijuana producer profile in this story, does not deliver recreational marijuana. Company co-founder Alex Cooley says he will continue to provide medical marijuana until the recreational and medical pot industries converge into a single industry.

Year started with KUOW: 2005