In Tacoma, Washington, a weed dispensary forced to close for failing to pay back taxes has historical meaning for the local cannabis scene. Rainier on Pine was Tacoma’s first fully operational legal weed store. But the dispensary lost its license yesterday. As a result, Tacoma’s first-ever weed dispensary has now been shut down.
According to local media, the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) revoked the dispensary’s license yesterday at noon. The move was the conclusion of an ongoing tax drama.
Reports show that between August 2014 and November 2017, Rainier on Pine sold $13.1 million worth of cannabis products. Under Washington’s tax laws, that equates to around $4.7 million in excise taxes. But apparently, the owners of the shop did not make full tax payments.
In fact, LCB officials said that starting in 2016 Rainier on Pine was delinquent on $768,000 of taxes. Since then, that number has spiked even higher. When the LCB shut down Rainier on Pine yesterday, the shop reportedly owed the state $1.4 million in taxes.
The LCB tried to deny the shop its license last March. Then, in October 2017, the agency was granted a judgment against the dispensary. Finally, on January 4, the full LCB board adopted the judgment and the shop’s fate was sealed.
“They’ve had several opportunities to become current on their taxes,” said LCB spokesperson Mikhail Carpenter. He also claimed the LCB had tried helping the shop get up to date on its taxes so it could remain open. “In this particular case, even after several attempts to do so, they were still delinquent in tax payments by a pretty substantial amount.”
Final Hit: Washington City’s First Weed Dispensary Forced To Close
After the shop’s license was officially canceled yesterday at noon, cops and LCB agents shut down the dispensary. They also seized all product still in the store.
Rainier on Pine was Tacoma’s first fully operational recreational dispensary. As such, it was part of Washington’s broader cannabis history.
Along with states like Oregon, Colorado, and California, Washington has become a pioneering weed state. In 1998, Washington voters approved Initiative 692. This bill made it legal for people with certain health conditions to use medical marijuana.
Then, in 2012, Washington took the next step. That year, voters said yes to Initiative 502. This one legalized recreational cannabis for adults. Retail pot shops, including Rainier on Pine, finally opened in 2014. And now, four years later, we see this first weed dispensary forced to close.
Four years after dispensaries began opening throughout the state, Washington residents apparently love legal weed even more than they did back in 2012. Surveys found that in January 2014, 64 percent of adults were happy with legalization. By April 2016, that number had grown. At that point, a full 77.9 percent of Washington residents said they support the state’s decision to make weed legal.
As in any state with legal weed, taxes are a huge piece of the legalization puzzle. Between 2017 and 2018, Washington is projected to pull in somewhere around $730 million in weed taxes. Much of that money will go toward funding public health programs.
Because taxes are a key aspect of the state’s legal weed system, failing to pay those taxes can become a serious problem—as evidenced by Rainier on Pine.