Seattle City Attorney Promises Crackdown on Black Market Cannabis

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Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes said he will work to eliminate the city’s black market cannabis retailers, particularly illegal delivery services.

Unlicensed retailers — many of which deliver, and some of which are so bold as to advertise on the back page of local newspapers — account for about 28% of the total cannabis market, according to the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB). But licensed retailers argue that this number greatly underestimates the black market, which they say may in fact make up the bulk of the total marijuana market.

According to Holmes, unlicensed sellers may soon have a problem on their hands: “I’m not free to say all of the enforcement steps that are being engineered now. But Seattle is going to crack down.”

Washington has collected some $65 million in taxes so far from its 577 licensed producers/processors and 228 retailers. But for the legalization effort to be a success, the black market has to be taken care of.

Holmes said the city is going to focus its enforcement efforts on cannabis delivery services, the brashest of which advertise in the Stranger and elsewhere.

“If they are licensed and regulated, delivery services can be a public safety enhancement,” said Holmes. “But today these unlicensed delivery services are plainly and simply felony operations.”

He said he will ask the state legislature to create a legal pilot program for cannabis delivery services in the Seattle area. Such a program would assist people with limited mobility and could even make auto travel safer.

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