Retail rules don’t change medical marijuana

The new rules on marijuana retail outlets and production operations released by the state Liquor Control Board yesterday offer clarification and a defined process for legal, recreational marijuana.

What they don’t do is change anything about medical marijuana.

“I hope they stay separate,” said Brent Rothwell, owner of Tantra Herbal Care & Wellness, a medical marijuana dispensary just east of the Aberdeen city limits. “There needs to be distinctions.”

There’s no mention of medical marijuana in the new rules, aside from listing the denial, suspension or cancelation of a medical marijuana license in another state as grounds to deny a retail license.

In the updated Frequently Asked Questions page on the Liquor Control Board’s website, the agency addresses concern that medical marijuana facilities might be grandfathered in somehow. That’s not the case.

“Retail licenses will be issued to qualified applicants who meet the licensing criteria. A medical marijuana outlet that wants to convert to a recreational outlet will have to go through the same application process as any other potential applicant. If they were to obtain a retail license they would only be allowed to sell marijuana purchased from the recreational system, they would not be allowed to comingle medical and recreational marijuana,” the FAQ page states.

The rules are clear that the only thing that will be sold at marijuana retail locations will be recreational marijuana, much like the rules for state-run liquor stores before privatization.

Tantra now serves more than 500 medical marijuana patients, Rothwell said. Though the retail rules aren’t directed at him, he’s concerned implementation of Initiative 502 may confuse the issues surrounding marijuana in a medicinal setting.

“Cannabis is not for everyone. If you have a medical reason for it, absolutely, no matter what your age,” he said.