Renton Orders New Marijuana Dispensary to Close

Tranquility Holistic Center opened its doors as a "patient-to-patient collective garden" on April 20.

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.

jp206 April 29, 2013 at 08:12 PM
First of all, the word is "effects," not "affects" in this case. Second, "burning brain cells" is not a real thing, nor is it representative of anything that happens to brain cells during marijuana use. Science shows that cannabis does not kill brain cells, but is actually neuroprotective. Third, you could have had a dispensary up the block from you for years without knowledge of their existence. Studies have shown that contrary to the fears of some, cannabis dispensaries actually reduce crime in the immediate vicinity. This likely has to do with black market dealers and associated violent crime losing most of their customer base to a safer, more legitimate business. Furthermore, these storefronts have strict membership rules, and if a member is caught sharing their cannabis with non-members they will have their membership revoked. If a member is caught giving or selling cannabis to kids, I guarantee you most of these dispensary owners/operators would be the first to call the police.
Karl Coleman May 01, 2013 at 05:32 PM
Loosen up Renton. Clearly WA state voters want marijuana. Stop fighting it. Embrace it. Be ahead of the curve.
Question Mark May 01, 2013 at 08:08 PM
jp206, in Kristina's defense, she may object to the affect produced by marijuana in its users ("whoa, DUDE") as much as the potential effects to others from second-hand smoke. Judging by the ads in local papers, it seems unlikely that medical marijuana collectives are operating under the types of collective garden restrictions described in this article. (If limited to a maximum of 10 members, is mass advertising necessary or advisable?)
JCL May 02, 2013 at 01:44 AM
I agree with jp206 on the fact that I rather the collectives operating in a commercial district than around our neighborhoods, illegally at a street corner, or at our parks. You could have a MMJ delivery service company living right next to your house and you don't even know it! There is a lot of misunderstanding as far as how the collectives operate. There are strict guidelines and procedures that must be followed. Personally I don't agree with what Seattle has done where they allow collectives everywhere with not much regulations in effect. Cities like Renton should consider putting a rules and regulations that would limit the number and proximity of collectives to each other. This way, it will not be ‘out of control’. Change is here, learn to harness it.
Alex Nature May 02, 2013 at 03:13 AM
I don't understand how certain cities try and ignore state law and the voice of the citizens. It is the jobs of the courts to decide legality of laws, not individual politicians. Washington DC is federally controlled area and they have medical marijuana. In a time of fiscal belt tightening, how can the city justify spending valuable resources when state appellate courts have sided against cities doing exact same. And just for common knowledge, no smoking is allowed at collectives so if your statement is all hyperbole.


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