Hundreds of medical marijuana shops to shut down with new state rule kicking in Friday

By Hana Kim

(Q13 Fox)

SEATTLE — There were empty shelves Thursday at Puget Sound Health Alternatives, which is among hundreds of medical marijuana dispensaries forced to shut down by July 1 because they don’t have a recreational pot license.

Some say they are pleased to see the dispensaries go away because they say there are too many unlicensed medical marijuana dispensaries across the state.

But Meagan Holt says the vanishing industry threatens the health of her 3-year-old daughter, Maddie.

“I am saving my daughter’s life with cannabis,” Holt said.

Maddie has Zellweger syndrome, a terminal illness that destroys the brain.

“Madeline is deaf, blind, completely dependent on a feeding tube; she has seizures,” Holt said.

Holt added that the only thing keeping her 3-year-old alive is a high potency cannabis extract, something many in the medical marijuana community have been donating to her family.

“I cannot go into a store and buy concentrate,” Holt said.

The Washington Department of Health says more than 300 recreational pot stores are approved to sell medical marijuana as of Thursday but patients are still concerned.

“These stores are not ready, not prepared, neither with product or trained consultants. They will only be able to access recreational marijuana at a 37% excise tax.”

Holt will now have to pay more for her daughter’s cannabis but the bigger problem is finding a product safe for her child.

“The types of products that’s in the stores are completely different,” Holt said.

Starting Friday, July 1, Holt says all the progress she’s made with Maddie is in jeopardy

“I’ve seen my child come back to life — she signs mama, she waves hello,” Holt said.

Holt was among dozens who showed up in downtown Seattle on Thursday with signs to protest the July 1 change.

To make matters worse, a computer glitch at the state health department means the database for medical marijuana patients was not working as of Thursday evening, meaning patients will only have access to recreational pot until the computer glitch is fixed.

After Friday, law enforcement will be in charge of cracking down on dispensaries that are not compliant in their jurisdictions. Pierce County, for example, told Q13 News they will start  enforcement sometime after the Fourth of July.

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