City officials ordered what is apparently the city's first marijuana dispensary to cease operations last Thursday for failing to secure a valid business license.
A bright-red notice ordering the business, Tranquility Holistic Center at 911 Third St. S. in Renton, to stop business until a valid business license had been issued was attached to the front of a locked door at the non-descript beige storefront, next door to GHY Bikes.
The owners of Tranquilty Holistic Center said through an attorney that they would appeal the decision, and will continue to operate the business as long as legally permitted.
City spokesperson Preeti Shridhar said City Hall had never issued a business license for the purpose of operating a storefront marijuana dispensary, and would likely not be able to issue a business license for something that is still prohibited by federal law.
"We have not yet received a request for a business license in this particular instance," she said.
Business owners of the dispensary, through an attorney, Jay Berneburg, shot back that they indeed had a Renton business license and it was displayed on the premises.
"The city gives no reason for the notice," he said. "The right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing."
According to the Renton Reporter, the city cites the current license as "invalid" because it was filed as an "Out-of-City" business, instead of an "In-City Commercial License" which permits the use of a storefront in city limits.
Tranquility Holistic Center is operated by a holding company, Green Key Management LLC of Kent. The registered owner is Auburn resident Eugene Orndorff, according to state records.
Known as "patient-to-patient collective gardens" under state law, marijuana dispensaries are technically permitted under strict conditions for the purposes of allowing the production and exchange of medical cannabis.
Up to 10 patients are permitted membership to a collective garden and the business may hold up to 15 plants per patient, up to a total of 45 plants, according to state law.
There are dozens of similar dispensaries currently operating in Seattle, for instance.
But the city of Renton's policy is to follow federal law for the time being, said Renton City Attorney Larry Warren, effectively blocking marijuana dispensaries from operating legally in town.
The dispensary's location is owned by Don and Margaret Schumsky, according to property records. They declined to return several messages requesting comment for this story.