Politics & Government

18 Washington stores caught selling marijuana to minors

Eighteen Washington stores were cited for selling marijuana to minors in May and June.
Eighteen Washington stores were cited for selling marijuana to minors in May and June. The Olympian

Stings caught three of 10 licensed marijuana stores in Pierce County and two of eight in Thurston County selling to minors, state regulators say.

The state Liquor Control Board said it found a higher rate of compliance statewide: 88 percent, with 18 of 157 stores open at the time selling weed to customers younger than 21 and a single two-time offender, Purple Haze in Snohomish County.

The agency soon to be renamed the Liquor and Cannabis Board made its first round of checks for sales to minors in May and June, sending 18- to 20-year-olds into shops to buy pot.

“Our goal is 100 percent compliance,” liquor board chairman Jane Rushford said in a statement announcing the results.

The liquor board said it would refer employees to local prosecutors for potential criminal charges.

For the stores, a citation for selling marijuana to a minor carries a potential penalty of $2,500 or 10 days’ closure. State records list the stores as facing fines, but a spokesman for the agency said final decisions are still to come.

A store must be closed 30 days after a second offense and shut down for good after a third offense in three years.

The board has said the compliance rate for stores selling some alcohol products is 85 percent and for stores selling hard liquor is 92 percent.

Among the marijuana stores cited was Green Lady in east Olympia — next door to the liquor board’s headquarters. Representatives of the store didn’t immediately reply to messages seeking comment.

Another was Sweet Greens NW in Rochester, where owner Matthew Martin said the wrongful sale two weeks after opening has “shaken us.” The store added an ID scanner and increased training, he said.

A co-owner of cited South End Tacoma store Clear Choice Cannabis said two employees misread a customer’s identification, one stationed at the door and one at the counter.

“Neither one of those employees are with us anymore, because that is not a mistake that we can make,” Shawn Sortland said.

An employee is also out of a job at Tacoma’s Mary Mart, the owner told the Seattle Times after that store’s citation in May. Mary Mart and Emerald Leaves, both on Sixth Avenue, told the newspaper they added or planned to add scanners.

Pierce County stores refusing to sell to minors were Tacoma’s Diamond Green, Urban Bud, Rainier on Pine, Highway 7 and World of Weed, as well as the Gallery in Parkland and Mr. Bill’s of Buckley. Thurston County stores that refused to sell to minors were A Bud and Leaf in Olympia, Bud Commander in Tumwater, Lucid and 420 Carpenter in Lacey, Marijuana Mart in Grand Mound and The Herbal Center in Tenino.