Pubdate: Sun, 26 Dec 2010
Source: Federal Way Mirror (WA)
Copyright: 2010 Sound Publishing
Author: Andy Hobbs
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


Owner Welcomes State Taxation

Green Piece Alternative Medicine and Education (GAME) Collective may 
be Federal Way's first storefront medical marijuana dispensary.

In a strip mall off South 333rd Street and Pacific Highway South, 
most storefronts bear Korean names except for one newbie. A sign on 
the plain glass door gives a phone number, hours of operation and a 
list of medicated edibles like cookies. Qualified clients can buy 
medical-grade cannabis inside the studio-like room, where mirrors 
line one wall, legal documents hang on another wall, a TV hums in the 
ceiling corner and lounge chairs sit on the floor. On a desk is a 
pipe shaped like a Seahawks helmet, with a short length of hose and a 
handwritten note granting permission to try it.

Brionne Corbray opened the third branch of his collective Oct. 1 in 
Federal Way. The collective, with two branches in Seattle, advertises 
openly online and in alternative publications.

In mid-December, the Washington State Department of Revenue announced 
plans to collect a sales tax from marijuana dispensaries. Corbray 
welcomes a sales tax because he can make more money. In fact, he 
would rather be a retail outlet store than a non-profit, he said.

"It's the new gold rush," said Corbray, 46, of Seattle. "We should be 
paying taxes. That means they're acknowledging we're legal businesses."

His clientele ranges in age from 19 to 87, he said, and all must have 
a verified recommendation from a qualified health care provider to do 
business. The collective often donates to low-income or gravely ill 
clients, he said.

"Collectives keep the crime rate down -- keeps it off the street," he 
said. "I don't think it should be legal like cigarettes."

State laws for possession and gardening offer a defense for medical 
marijuana providers, and according to Corbray, there is no shortage 
of supplies.

"I make sure I stay within the guidelines of the law," he said.

Corbray went through proper state channels to register, and staff in 
Olympia "helped me word it the right way," he said. He is registering 
for a nonprofit business license with Federal Way, as required by 
city code, he said.

He chose Federal Way to meet demand for marijuana in South King 
County and Pierce County. With a local client base of about 100, he 
said, the collective is growing every day. So far, he has not been 
hassled by the city or law enforcement.

"If they want to find us, they can find us," he said, confident of 
King County and Prosecutor Dan Satterberg's established tolerance 
toward medical marijuana. "Do I think we're here to stay? Yes."

Upon hearing about GAME Collective's new branch, city council member 
Linda Kochmar said medical marijuana dispensaries belong in Holland 
or California, not in Federal Way.

"I do know that it helps people with late-stage cancer, and God bless 
them, anything they can do to relieve their pain," she said, adding 
that marijuana should be a highly-controlled substance, and that a 
dispensary makes the drug easier to abuse. "I want my community to be 
a healthy, wholesome community that encourages family life. As far as 
smoking pot and the ability to get it, I'm going to be very much 
against something like that."

Marijuana is illegal under federal law, although 15 states have 
medical marijuana laws on the books.

The number of marijuana dispensaries in Washington state is unknown. 
Earlier this month, the State Department of Revenue sent letters to 
about 90 dispensaries, seeking retail sales taxes on medical 
marijuana (GAME Collective did not receive a letter). Dispensaries 
are not exempt from sales taxes or the business and occupation (B&O) 
tax, the letter said, because state law does not authorize marijuana 
as a prescription drug. The letter ends by asking dispensaries to 
call the department and register.

According to an AP report, Colorado and some California cities tax 
marijuana, with Maine and Washington, D.C., planning to collect taxes 
when their dispensary laws take effect. In 2009, Oakland, Calif., 
became the first city to approve the taxing proceeds on medical 
marijuana; the mail-in ballot passed with 80 percent voter approval. 
One of the measure's key supporters, the owner of a cannabis club in 
Oakland, expected to pay more than $350,000 this year, according to a 
CNN report. However, Oakland continues to face legal challenges in 
its efforts to tax marijuana sales. A proposal for statewide 
legalization in California failed at the polls in 2010.

Sensible Washington, a group advocating legalization, recently bought 
a billboard ad on Interstate 5 in Fife. The sign reads "Because drug 
dealers don't ID. Legalize in 2011." Sensible Washington sponsored a 
legalization initiative that failed to gather enough signatures for 
the 2010 general election.


In 1998, Washington state voters approved a law that removed criminal 
penalties and established a defense for qualified patients who 
possess or cultivate cannabis for medicinal use.

In 2008, the "60-day" supply for patients was defined as 24 ounces 
and 15 plants; both numbers have attracted intense debate from 
medical marijuana advocates. The law allows patients to exceed these 
limits if the patient can prove medical need, according to the 
Washington State Department of Health.

Federal law classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 controlled 
substance. Washington's medical marijuana laws help patients with a 
legal defense in local or state courts. Federal laws do not recognize 
the medical use of marijuana.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom