The largest federal crackdown in the 13-year history of Washington state’s medical-marijuana law has sent Spokane’s once-open medical-marijuana businesses diving deep underground, reports the Seattle Times. Most of the 50-some dispensaries abruptly closed. Those that remain are mostly word-of-mouth secrets. Contrast that to Seattle, where the city’s embrace of medical marijuana encourages a flourishing business for storefront dispensaries, bakers, growers, and lawyers. An unofficial count, based on Seattle business licenses and advertising websites, finds at least 75 storefront dispensaries open, and more appearing weekly.
Federal raids and indictments in Spokane, combined with a law muddled by Gov. Chris Gregoire’s veto of a key bill earlier this year, leave a medical-marijuana law with two entirely different applications in different parts of the state. The two approaches by federal and state law enforcement may reflect divergent political priorities or workload, east and west. On both sides, the use of medical marijuana for suffering patients remains wildly popular; a December poll, commissioned by the ACLU of Washington, found four out of five voters in Eastern and Western Washington alike support it.