Free Markets

A medical marijuana dispensary is now operating in Spokane:

After years of buying marijuana illegally, Judy now has a doctor’s note that says marijuana is a proper medication to ease her pain.

She buys her supply from a shop called Change. It opened two months ago and is run by Christopher Stevens, Noah Zarate and Scott Shupe.

People smoke and buy marijuana at the Northwest Boulevard store, and police know about it. The owners wrote a letter to Spokane police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick about their business; her reply stated that her officers are committed to enforcing local, state and federal laws.

Stevens, a candidate for Spokane City Council, took her reply to mean police would not interfere with the business.

I hope Stevens is correct and that the police will leave them alone. Unfortunately, that may not be the case.

Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor John Grasso handles most medical marijuana-related crimes. Police often consult him before pursuing a case, he said.

Grasso thinks dispensaries operating in Spokane, including Change, on Northwest Boulevard, are illegal because they provide marijuana to more than one person.

But it will take a police investigation to trigger prosecution, he said.

The factors in this equation haven’t changed. Either patients are going to spend their money in a safe environment with their money going towards local entrepreneurs and the local tax base or they’re going to spend their money on the black market with their money going towards organized crime groups – usually from Mexico – who have the resources to set up massive farms throughout the state and are willing to shoot it out with the police if necessary to protect their profits.

Spokane police appear to be doing the smart thing for now and looking the other way. These things sometimes change very quickly and unexpectedly though. The risk of opening up an actual dispensary in the state has been great enough that not even Seattle has any operating out in the open yet. As a result, authorized patients either grow for themselves or find someone to grow for them. Robbers or overzealous police actions sometimes wipe out a patient’s supply for weeks or even months.

Allowing and regulating dispensaries like Change is the solution to this problem. The Obama Administration opened the door for doing this by saying that they wouldn’t interfere with state dispensary laws. Three states now allow them – California, New Mexico, and Rhode Island (Rhode Island’s House recently overrode the Governor’s veto with a unanimous vote). For Olympia to leave dispensaries like Change operating in semi-legal limbo is just another failure in a long line of legislative failures on this issue.

UPDATE: A Seattle-based dispensary operator will be interviewed on KUOW today at noon.


  1. 1

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    A marijuana dispensary is NOT operating next door to Roger Rabbit! Last week a cop knocked on my neighbor’s door to talk with him about a zoning matter (too many cars) and thought he smelled pot. Well, maybe he did; the way my neighbor keeps his place closed up, if someone smoked a joint in there 6 months ago, you’d still be able to smell it. Anyway, there was this huge fucking police raid. They handcuffed my neighbor and secured the house with a whole platoon of cops until they could get a search warrant — and they didn’t find a fucking thing!!! After it was over, I told my neighbor this was just a show the cops put on to look like they’re doing something to fight drugs so they can collect their federal War-On-Drugs money. What a waste of law enforcement resources.

  2. 3

    new left conservative 1 spews:

    Thanks Lee,

    This state is so backward. A story on NPR yesterday about medical marajuana retail outlets working to increase their tax payments to be good civic citizens in Oakland, CA should show us the way forward.

    Here in supposedly progressive WA it’s the same tired old George W-like politics of spending tax money to ruin the lives of dying cancer patients and the good people trying to help them.

    It’s sickening these people have to worry about this at all.

    new left conservative 1

  3. 6

    Politically Incorrect spews:


    This is one of the rare times I agree with the rodent. The War on Drugs has been a waste of time and money, at least as far as pot goes. It’s time to realize that marijuana is here to stay, it isn’t going away, and we may as well get used to it.

    Let’s legalize this substance now and stop persecuting people who like to enjoy it.

  4. 7

    Now you see it spews:

    Must fight the evil mary jane? Sure, buying a CRATE of wine from Napa, 18 bottles of Vodka and 6 cartons of cigarettes in the SAME afternoon and carrying it all in one car is legal…but a joint!? CALL THE POLICE! ARREST THESE EVIL DOERS! HOW CAN THIS DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST SATANIC GAY AGENDA OBAMA MADNESS CONTINUE! MUST STOP POT! Now where’s my martini?