Marijuana class action lawsuit planned against growers

Recreational marijuana retailers claim some growers are working together to keep prices high

FILE - Marijuana plants stretch toward the light in a grow room in Vancouver, Wash. Undated photo. (KOIN 6 News/Jonathan Simmons)
FILE - Marijuana plants stretch toward the light in a grow room in Vancouver, Wash. Undated photo. (KOIN 6 News/Jonathan Simmons)

CLARK COUNTY, Wash. (KOIN 6) — A class action lawsuit is planned to sue pot growers, claiming they’re working together to keep prices high.

The class action complaint is being filed on behalf of marijuana retailers everywhere, not just in Clark County, with the hope to bring down the cost of marijuana for customers.

“There’s a reason that the prices are so high here, and it is not the free market at all,” said attorney Liz Hallock.

Attorney Liz Hallock, Sept. 4, 2014. (KOIN 6)
Attorney Liz Hallock, Sept. 4, 2014. (KOIN 6)

Sitting inside her half-rehabbed retail space that she hopes will eventually sell legal marijuana, Hallock shared some contents of the lawsuit, which she hasn’t even finished writing yet.

“The charges are unfair competition, anti-trust, and the per se violations are collusion and intent to price fix,” she said.

The cost of a gram of legal weed in Clark County currently hovers around $35. Meanwhile in Colorado, a gram is only $15.

It’s a $20 difference that Hallock said starts with marijuana producers’ artificially inflated prices to retailers.

“When producers here in Washington are asking for $12 to $13 a gram, they’re marking up the prices 1,300%, which does not benefit the consumer at all,” said Hallock.

She said it’s the larger growers who are setting the prices and smaller producers are following their lead.

Hallock spent the last couple of months investigating and gathering evidence to make sure the growers’ activity violates Washington’s Consumer Protection Act.

At this point, she said she is confident she can prove it.

“We have indications that there were actual sit down meetings. Producers got together. Some of the ring leaders put pressure on others. Not everybody agreed to it,” said Hallock.

While retailers continue to struggle with thin profit margins, Hallock argues growers are cashing in.

She said she plans to file the lawsuit in Clark County as early as next week.

As of Wednesday, Washington state had 206 licensed marijuana producers or processors. Most of them had permits to do both.

Currently, there are 50 licensed retailers in the state.

EDITOR’S NOTE: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated marijuana retailers were planning the lawsuit. In fact, it is a class action lawsuit filed by one person on behalf of pot retailers in general.

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s