Pubdate: Fri, 10 Apr 2015
Source: Seattle Times (WA)
Copyright: 2015 The Seattle Times Company


CUSTOMERS are getting smoked out of the Ding How Center in Seattle's 
Little Saigon neighborhood. While the city is looking into the 
matter, landlords must do more to protect their properties from bad 
disreputable medical-marijuana stores.

Businesses, employees and patrons should not be constantly 
overwhelmed by the smell of marijuana. Two dispensaries are now 
located at 1207 South Jackson Street. Store owners say The Green Door 
is a good neighbor. But the other, Seattle Caregivers, has become a nuisance.

Because of the Legislature's indolence last year on resolving 
regulation of medical dispensaries, what has happened to this area is 
happening around the region. Seattle city officials say they lack the 
legal tools to protect neighboring businesses from these enterprises, 
some of which have no business licenses and are not following the 
dispensary laws.

The state House should follow the Senate's lead and pass SSSB 5052. 
This bill would consolidate all recreational stores and 
medical-marijuana dispensaries into one state-regulated system.

A recent city survey estimates that 103 dispensaries are operating 
within city limits- an unknown number apparently willing to sell to 
anyone who enters their doors.

In December, a Seattle Times editorial writer purchased a gram of 
marijuana at Seattle Caregivers without having to show identification 
or a medical-marijuana authorization.

Owners of Pho So 1, I Love Wasabi and Huong Binh - located on either 
side of Seattle Caregivers - are fed up. The restaurants' sales are 
suffering. The unmistakable stench wafting through their restaurants 
has prompted patrons to leave mid-meal. Menacing behavior in the 
parking lot and people openly smoking marijuana, in violation of 
state law, scares away customers. Employees have reported headaches 
and allergic reactions.

Tenants say their complaints to the landlord's contact, Howard Ho, 
have proved fruitless. King County records show the taxpayer for Ding 
How Shopping Center is Asian Pacific Properties.

Ho told The Seattle Times he has asked Seattle Caregivers' manager 
"to make improvements." He did not specify a deadline or what compliance meant.

Nearly half a year has passed since the business opened without a 
city business license. Time's up.

Complaints from citizens prompted the city Department of Planning and 
Development to inspect The Green Door and Seattle Caregivers. City 
officials say both are in violation of state rules and notification 
is likely, though details are not yet public.

The city could flex its muscle with the city's Chronic Nuisance 
Ordinance to pressure landlords. That strategy proved effective in 
February when the Seattle City Attorney's Officesent a warning letter 
to a building owner who had started renting to Treehouse Collective 
at 9420 Rainier Ave. S.

At its last location on the same block, that illegal dispensary was 
connected to at least 14police calls for reports of shots fired in 
two years, including 60 rounds of gunfire in a single 2014 incident.

The letter warned of possible fines of up to $25,000 and that the 
landlord would also be held responsible for criminal activity that 
occurred on the property.

It worked. Treehouse Collective recently closed, city officials confirm.

Meanwhile, Seattle Caregivers continues to operate behind sprayed-out 
windows like a pop-up store trying to make a quick buck before the 
city cracks down.

The legislative proposal, SSSB 5052, would create a uniform 
regulatory system for all sellers in a way that still protects 
medical patients.

Otherwise, Seattle will have to rely on neighbors to report 
suspicious activity and act on its own - slowly - against problematic 

Landlords throughout the region also are on notice. They should make 
sure their tenants are reputable.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom