By Colette Thomas
When Tedd Wetherbee and Mike Henery opened The Gallery in Parkland, Washington on March 1, they were prepared for the potentially rough road ahead of them. Pierce County, where the shop is located, is one of several municipalities in Washington that currently has a moratorium on recreational marijuana retail stores. Since The Gallery’s early March opening, it has had local and national media coverage nearly every day, including features by ABC Nightly News and The Huffington Post, as well as local ABC and NBC affiliates, to name a few.
Although The Gallery was issued a recreational marijuana retail license by the Washington State Liquor Control Board, it is currently operating in defiance of a local zoning ordinance. On Tuesday, March 3 Wetherbee and Henery were verbally told that a cease and desist order would follow. By Thursday, March 5, the documentation was in their hands, giving them until March 19 to close their doors or face criminal charges or fines of up to $1,000 per day. As of Marijuana Venture’s press deadline, it had yet to be determined whether they will comply with Pierce County.
“We do not believe that Pierce County will do something arbitrary or capricious,” Wetherbee said. “We are working very closely with county officials to reach a resolution that will please all of us.”
When asked if they have received any resistance from licensed I-502 processors, the co-owners replied “absolutely not.” They have been inundated with support and many processors are competing for shelf space. The Gallery is surrounded by more than a hundred medical dispensaries in Pierce County, where single grams are sold for $10. Consumers can purchase single grams at The Gallery for $14 to $24. Soon Wetherbee hopes to offer single grams and pre-rolls for $10. This will allow them to go head-to-head with dispensaries and the black market.
Wetherbee and Henery also won two other at-large licenses in Pierce County. They plan on opening them both in areas that currently have moratoriums. It remains unclear to Wetherbee how the state can continue to allow loosely-regulated medical marijuana dispensaries and ban tightly-regulated retail stores. He said will continue to litigate with state and local authorities, until the vote of the people is granted.
Colette Thomas is an advisor for Recreational Marijuana Management, which provides consulting services for I-502 retailers on licensing and compliance. RMM has assisted multiple retailers open for business. She can be reached at email@example.com.