Pioneer Square Medical-Marijuana Shooting Is One More Reason to Legitimize Dispensaries

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Possessing medical marijuana in Washington state is legal with a prescription. Selling it, however, is not. That's certainly not to say that medical marijuana isn't sold in Washington; just that when it is, people run the risk of getting shot, beaten, or robbed.

For example, The P-I story yesterday that reports police are now saying that a shooting in a Pioneer Square parking garage earlier this month was a medical-marijuana deal gone bad.

Apparently the victim (a fully-licensed cannabis patient) had arranged to meet an off-duty parking attendant and sell him a pound and a half of marijuana for $4,800. So the guy showed up with the pot and found the parking attendant in a corner of the First Avenue garage, but as soon as he pulled out the drugs, a "black male in a black hooded sweatshirt" burst out of a nearby door with a handgun.

The victim and the gunman struggled. One shot was fired right into the would-be pot provider's chest. And with a bullet hole gushing and other shots being fired at him, the victim leaped over the second-story ledge and escaped.

The man survived and the suspected shooter was caught shortly afterward--neither of whom have been named yet--but police say the robbery was part of a plan possibly put together by several people.

The news comes just a few days after charges were announced in the armed robbery of the GAME Collective Dispensary in West Seattle, and an incident in which a man had to chase robbers out of his medical-pot grow site with a rifle.

And of course, there's been plenty of well-documented violence over medical weed in the past as well.

But until state legislators quit pretending that prescribed pot will just magically appear inside patients' bongs and doesn't in fact need to be purchased, these kinds of incidents are likely to keep happening.

It's hard, after all, to count on law enforcement's support when you're selling a legal product in a way that's illegal.

Fortunately there is a bill--SB 5073--that would legitimize dispensaries in the state of Washington. Unfortunately, it's still rife with problems, some of which have been described by lawyers as "clearly unconstitutional."

Not that lawmakers should give up or start over, but this work-in-progress bill needs more work and more progress before it's passed.

In the meantime, unfortunately, more back-alley cannabis providers and underground dispensaries are bound to get hustled and hurt.

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