Lacey marijuana store in hot water with regulators over ‘free samples’

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The owner of a marijuana store near Lacey is disputing allegations from state regulators that his store let customers try free samples.

Enforcement officers with the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board searched the building that houses Dank’s Wonder Emporium on Martin Way East last month after receiving complaints it was operating an illegal marijuana club.

According to their report, undercover officers went to the store and were told they could try products on sale in an unlicensed portion of the building upstairs. There they were offered free samples by a Dank’s employee and saw people smoking marijuana.

The report includes social media postings that appear to be from Dank’s employees advertising “free samples upstairs!”

Retail licensees can’t advertise free products or provide free samples to customers.

“Essentially what was happening here that caused the investigation was advertisements by the licensee that (said) ‘Try it before you buy it,’ which is against the law,” said Mikhail Carpenter, a spokesman for the Liquor and Cannabis Board.

Licensees are also required to trace their products from production to sale, and the report alleges Dank’s was diverting products to be given out as free samples.

Dank’s owner, Random Vaughn, said he plans to challenge violations issued by the state that could cost him his license. Vaughn said upstairs is an office for his film production company and the samples were purchased to be consumed there.

“It’s a separate premises, it’s a separate business...” Vaughn said. “They did a raid on a separate business and now we’re being held accountable.”

Dank’s remains open while Vaughn’s case goes forward.

Carpenter said regulators have also referred a charge of operating a marijuana club, a Class C felony, to Thurston County prosecutors.

Abby Spegman: 360-704-6869