Archive for Marijuana

Bankers say they need more guidance to provide services to marijuana businesses

By | October 6, 2014 | 0 Comments

Bankers told legislators this week they need more clarity when it comes to laws that allow them to provide checking accounts, loans and other financial services to marijuana businesses.

Salal Credit Union of Seattle currently counts five marijuana producers and four retailers among its customers, Russ Rosendal told a joint legislative committee on Monday.

The bank follows guidelines from the so-called “Cole memo” released by the U.S. Department of Justice last year. The memo said the federal government will only enforce eight areas of the federal Controlled Substance Act in Washington and Colorado.

However, the memo contains “exceptions and loopholes,” Rosendal said, and it doesn’t prohibit the federal government from launching investigations or prosecutions. “So while it was a step forward, there are still a lot of issues there,” he said.

Numerica Credit Union also provides services to marijuana businesses. Bank representative Lynn Ciani said one reason she thinks more banks aren’t providing financial services to the marijuana industry is because of the criminal penalties that the DOJ can impose for violating federal anti-laundering laws.

“Although we are used to the large civil penalties and that risk, the whole going to jail thing and wearing orange is probably causing people to take a second thought,” Ciani told the committee.

Both banks also follow guidance released in February by the U.S. Treasury Department and the U.S. Justice Department.

However, a number of issues remain to be sorted out.

Rosendal said it is unclear what tax deductions a marijuana business is allowed to take. He said banks are also unsure about forfeiture and seizure laws. “As long as financial institutions are unclear about what collateral they have…it is going to be hard to lend any money to 502 businesses,” he said.

Credit cards are also a problem, Rosendal said, because companies like Visa or Mastercard don’t allow their products to be used for marijuana. “Until these I-502 businesses can do electronic transactions, they’re going to be forced to be in a cash business,” he said.

Watch the full meeting at this TVW link.


Categories: Marijuana

First 24 marijuana licenses issued by state officials

By | July 7, 2014 | 0 Comments

The Washington State Liquor Control Board on Monday issued the state’s first 24 marijuana retail licenses to stores in cities that include Seattle, Spokane, Tacoma, Bellingham and Lacey.

The licenses pave the way for stores to begin selling pot as soon as 8 a.m. Tuesday morning. The full list of 24 stores is available online here, although not all stores are expected to have supply ready to go on the first day.

Cannabis City in Seattle told the Associated Press it will open its doors at noon Tuesday, while other stores say they will have “soft openings” in the coming days as they stock their shelves.

The board expects to eventually license 334 stores across Washington state.

Voters in Washington legalized marijuana during the November 2012 election. The state Liquor Control Board has spent 18 months establishing a system to produce, process and sell recreational marijuana.

A number of stores in small cities in Washington also received retail licenses Monday, including Ephrata, Kelso, Prosser, Camano Island and Bingen.

Categories: Marijuana

On ‘The Impact:’ New television ads warn smokers about driving while high

By | June 25, 2014 | 0 Comments

Traffic safety officials are launching a new television advertising campaign in July to warn people about the consequences of driving after smoking pot.

The state’s first retail marijuana stores are set to open on July 8, and the ads coincide with stepped-up DUI patrols that will begin on July 1.

The campaign features three 30-second television commercials produced by the Colorado Department of Transportation. The message of the ads: You can do a lot of things high, but don’t drive. Here’s an example:

On this week’s edition of “The Impact,” host Jennifer Huntley talks with Shelly Baldwin, a program manager with the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, about the new ad campaign.

Also on the show, find out about an upcoming change for registered domestic partners. Couples under the age of 62 who are registered domestic partners with the state will automatically become married on June 30. The change is part of the state’s 2012 law legalizing same-sex marriage.

More information about the conversion process is available online here.

“The Impact” airs on Wednesday, June 25 at 7 & 10 p.m.

Categories: Marijuana, TVW

Marijuana retail stores set to open July 8, but may not be selling edibles at first

By | June 24, 2014 | 0 Comments

Edible pot food such as brownies and candy likely will not be on the shelves when Washington’s first legal marijuana stores open their doors on July 8.

The Washington State Liquor Control Board is expected to adopt an emergency rule requiring prior approval of the labels that go on edibles before the pot-infused food can be sold at retail stores. (Update: The emergency rule was formally adopted by the board on Wednesday.)

The labels cannot feature cartoon figures or appeal to children. The packages must include scoring to show serving sizes, along with other requirements. Makers of pot-infused food can get approval for their products by submitting a photo of the package to the Liquor Control Board. If rejected, the board has an appeals process.

So far, no labels have been submitted to the board for approval. Twenty marijuana stores are expected to open on July 8, although the store locations have not yet been released.

In advance of the opening date, state officials are also launching a public campaign to dissuade anyone under the age of 21 from using marijuana. Gov. Jay Inslee said at a press conference Tuesday that the statewide campaign is “essential to protect the human health of our kids.”

“If we fail to act, this effort to legalize marijuana could be in some doubt,” Inslee said.

And it’s not just kids that the state is trying to educate. “One of our concerns is the adult consumers that maybe haven’t had marijuana in a long time, or are new users,” said Liquor Control Board Chair Sharon Foster.

‘The marijuana of today is not the marijuana of the ’60s,” warned Foster, who said she was told by an emergency room doctor that most marijuana-related cases are Baby Boomers.

Foster said the board is also trying to get out the message that people may have to wait up to two hours before they begin feeling the effects of edible pot food.

Edibles have come under scrutiny in Colorado after a 19-year-old student fell to his death from a hotel balcony after eating six pot cookies. Colorado is now weighing potency rules for edibles.

Watch the press conference below:

Legislative Year in Review

By | March 24, 2014 | 0 Comments

On this special one-hour edition of “Legislative Year in Review,” we recap the highlights from the 2014 session — from opening day to Sine Die. The show includes debate over issues such as the Dream Act, minimum wage, gun control, abortion insurance bill, death penalty, mental health, teacher evaluations, taxing e-cigarettes and the supplemental budget. Plus, a quick wrap-up of several of the bills that passed this year. Watch the show below:

Live in Olympia: TVW’s Sine Die show starts at 8 a.m. Thursday

By | March 13, 2014 | 0 Comments

Washington’s legislative leaders will adjourn the 2014 session Thursday, unless a special session extends the deadline. But before they go back to their districts TVW will air back-to-back live interviews with more than 20 lawmakers starting at 8 a.m. Thursday.

Anita Kissée reporting live from the capitol rotunda for TVW's special edition mid-session show Feb. 18.

Anita Kissée, host of The Impact, will sit down with Gov. Jay Inslee, House Democratic Majority Leader Rep. Pat Sullivan and House Republican leader Rep. Dan Kristiansen

Other guests include Sen. Linda Evans Parlette, R-Wenatchee, Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Medina, Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, D-Burien, and Sen. Steve Litzow, R-Mercer Island. The lawmakers will talk about a range of issues from education to the capital budget to the environment.

Plus, Austin Jenkins, host of TVW’s “Inside Olympia” and reporter for the Public Radio Northwest News Network, and Brian Rosenthal, a state government reporter for The Seattle Times, will stop by to talk about some highlights from the past 60 days and what to expect when the election process begins.

Coverage will be here on the blog, and you can watch live on TVW or via webcast.

Medical marijuana rules pass Washington Senate

By | March 10, 2014 | 0 Comments

The Senate passed rules on medical marijuana over the weekend, and the bill is headed to the House.

Medical marijuana has been legal but largely unregulated since voters approved it in 1998. Medical marijuana has come under scrutiny by the federal government as the state prepares for legal recreational marijuana to go on sale in licensed stores, expected to start later this year.

Senators Ann Rivers, R-La Center, and Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, both sponsored bills this year that would combine the largely unregulated medical marijuana system with the more regulated recreational marijuana system, under the Liquor Control Board.

“This bill is the very best attempt to protect our patients and their rights and their access to their product while making sure that we meet the Initiative 502 guidelines that we voted on as an electorate,” Rivers said.

The Liquor Control Board also would be renamed the Liquor and Cannabis Board under the bill.

The Senate passed Rivers’ bill, SB 5887, on Saturday, with a number of amendments from Kohl-Welles, on a vote of 34-15.

The rules would include:

  • Medical marijuana would be exempt from sales and use tax, but still subject to a 25 percent excise tax.
  • Patients could have three ounces of marijuana, which is more than the one ounce allowed under recreational rules.
  • Cooperative grows could include up to four participants.
  • Individuals could grow up to six marijuana plants, or up to 15 if prescribed by a doctor.
  • Medical products could be purchased from retail marijuana stores with a special endorsement.
  • Starts a patient and provider registry and restricts access to the registry.

Kohl-Welles described the rules as  a start. Kohl-Welles’  SB 6542, which passed 40-8 on Saturday, would establish a committee that explores the cannabis industry, including a subcommittee on medical marijuana.

“With the regulated, licensed non-medical market opening this year, we are in uncharted territory with regard to legislating on this issue. I voted in favor of this bill because we need regulations regarding medical marijuana. But for the sake of patients, there is still work that needs to be done,” Kohl-Welles said in a prepared statement.

Rivers also said she expects the laws will be adjusted in coming years.

“The use of medical marijuana became legal in 1998, so I realize this bill would create a big change for people who are used to it being unregulated. But by not taking action to standardize quality and access, we are endangering patients who truly need a safe, legal, and consistent source of medical marijuana,” Rivers said in a prepared statement.

Sen.  Brian Dansel, R-Republic, objected to the bill, saying the bill was not what voters intended when they passed Initiative 502. Dansel also questioned whether local jurisdictions would have enough funding to deal with the impacts of the proposed regulations on the health and judicial system.

Sen. Mark Mullet, D-Issaquah, shared the latter concern, and voted against the bill.

“I was under the impression we were going to have the revenue share with cities and counties who are stuck with the enforcement of this issue,”  he said.

Washington issues first recreational marijuana business license

By | March 5, 2014 | 0 Comments

When Sean Green of Spokane became Washington’s first licensee to produce and process recreational marijuana, he likened it to the end of an era.

“Cannabis prohibition is over,” he said.

Green’s license were issued at a Washington State Liquor Control Board meeting on Wednesday to a flurry of publicity.

“We are living the dream today here right now,” he said.

Green will operate a 21,000-square-foot growing operation in Spokane under the business name Kouchlock Productions. (Couch lock is slang for too stoned to move.) He said he’s invested $6 million in the growing and processing operation.

Sean Green of Spokane displays the first recreational marijuana producer and processor license issued in the state.

Green has operated a medical cannabis dispensary since it was legalized in Washington in 2011, and has dispensaries in Shoreline and Spokane.

Green said there still were obstacles for entrepreneurs, citing the ongoing difficulty in finding a bank willing to work with marijuana businesses.

While Green was the first licensee, the Washington State Liquor Control Board is going through 2,800 applications for producing and processing, said Becky Smith, Liquor Control Board Marijuana Manager.

Several more producer and processor licenses are in the final stages and will be issued this week, according to the Washington State Liquor Control Board.

Sean Green of Spokane hugs a staff member of the Washington State Liquor Control Board as he receives the first recreational marijuana producer and processor license in the state.

Retail licenses will be issued after a lottery later this spring, and the state is still set for the first pot stores to open this summer, according to Liquor Control Board agency director Rick Garza.

Board member Chris Marr said he expects the retail stores to roll out, rather than all be ready to open on the first day. The state will issue 338 retail licenses.

The Seattle Times raised questions about Green after uncovering labor complaints made by Green’s employees.

Marr told reporters that the board’s staff felt that Green satisfied all the requirements and criteria for receiving a producer and grower’s license.

Teen addiction specialists report riskier behavior after marijuana and liquor intitatives

By | February 21, 2014 | 0 Comments

Some teenagers appear to be engaging in riskier behaviors after voters passed Initiatives 1183 and 502, which made liquor and marijuana more accessible, according to teen health and addiction specialists who spoke before a House committee earlier this week.

“In many ways, we’re the experiment. We, with Colorado in terms of commercial legal recreational marijuana, and in terms in of 1183, we are one of the top most deregulated state in terms of spirit sales in the country,” said Derek Franklin of the Washington Association of Substance Abuse and Violence Prevention.

“We’re trying to figure out how best to prevent substance abuse in kids in communities,” he said.

Voters passed Initiative 1183 three years ago, privatizing hard alcohol sales in Washington and making liquor available in grocery stores. Initiative 502 legalized recreational marijuana for people 21 and over.

Lawmakers invited specialists to speak on the changes they’ve observed since the passage of those two initiatives during a work session of the House Early Learning and Human Services Committee.

Researcher Julia Dilley told the panel that the number of Washington teenagers who are drinking alcohol has decreased, following national trends. But the kids who drink heavily are doing so more often. She also said teenagers’ attitudes in the state have been increasingly accepting of both marijuana and alcohol use.

Michael Langer with the Department of Social and Health Services said alcohol is the substance used most often by youth, with marijuana in second place. (more…)

Categories: Marijuana
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Marijuana could bring $51 million to 2015-17 general fund

By | February 19, 2014 | 0 Comments

State officials estimated that legalized recreational marijuana could bring in $51 million to the state’s general fund in the 2015-17 biennium.

It’s the first time that the state has included marijuana in its revenue projections, since Initiative 502 passed in 2012, which legalized recreational marijuana, according to the Office of Financial Management.

The Economic and Revenue Forecast Council discussed the estimate, and projections for the next six years at meetings broadcast on TVW Wednesday.

The forecast for the remainder of the 2013-15 biennium showed general fund revenue coming in $30 million higher than in the November forecast, according to the Office of Financial Management. The general fund revenue over this biennium is expected to be $33 billion.

The state’s general fund collections in the following biennium, 2015-17, are projected to be $35.7 billion, an increase of $82 million over the November projection and including the $51 million expected in marijuana taxes.

The rest of that increased forecast was due to slowly growing economy, said Steve Lerch, chief economist of the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council.

Lerch told lawmakers Wednesday that council staff has been reluctant before this forecast to include marijuana tax revenues in general fund projections because of uncertainties about the retail stores, including when the the stores would launch and the potential for marijuana businesses to have problems with banks.

The projection includes an assumption that marijuana retail stores would not start until June 2015, Lerch said. Initiative 502 earmarks other revenue from marijuana, such as licensing revenue, to a dedicated marijuana fund, which pays for social and health services and research, he said.

According to OFM, the next revenue forecast is scheduled for release June 18.

Categories: economy, Marijuana

House passes bills legalizing hemp, hemp seeds for farm animals

By | February 17, 2014 | 0 Comments

The House approved a bill Monday legalizing hemp in Washington state, paving the way for farmers to grow hemp for products such as clothing, jewelry, lip balm and soaps.

Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley, said the bill will boost the state’s farming industry and bring jobs to the state.

Hemp jewelry

“Washington state used to be one of the largest exporters of hemp in the entire world,” Shea said. “This bill will allow us to be that once again.”

It directs the state Department of Agriculture to issue licenses for growing hemp that cost $10 per acre of land. Industrial hemp must contain a THC concentration of 1 percent or less.

Another bill would allow farmers to feed hemp seeds to their commercial animals if it is deemed safe by the Department of Agriculture.

“There’s been found to be some pretty good dietary nutrients inside of hemp seed,” said Rep. Vincent Buys, R-Lynden, who urged lawmakers to support the bill. “A vote for this is a vote for happy chickens, happy cows, happy pigs.”

Both bills passed unanimously, and now head to the Senate for its consideration.

Categories: Marijuana, WA House

On ‘Legislative Review:’ Hemp farming, marijuana bans and lightbulb recycling

By | January 31, 2014 | 0 Comments

On Thursday’s edition of “Legislative Review,” we have details on two bills that would legalize hemp farming in Washington state. Supporters say the state is missing out on a lucrative hemp industry that produces everything from clothing to fuel.

We also recap debate in a House committee over a bill that discourages local governments from banning I-502 marijuana businesses. The bill was introduced in response to a Pierce County ban on pot businesses within its unincorporated areas. Plus, we have details on a recycling program for lightbulbs containing mercury.

Watch the show below:

Hemp farming would be legalized under legislation

By | January 30, 2014 | 0 Comments

Washington became a marijuana-friendly state when voters approved Initiative 502 legalizing marijuana. Now, the legislature is talking about making hemp farming legal as well.

Joy Maher shows off her hemp collection at the TVW office.

Two bills were discussed Thursday at the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee that seek to create a licensing system for hemp growers governed by the Dept. of Agriculture.

While Senate Bill 6214 and Senate Bill 5964 are very similar, the first bill requires Washington State University to conduct a study of the net worth of industrial hemp production before licensing the crop. The cost of the study is estimated to be about $850,000.

Supporters of the hemp bill said that the crop is beneficial from an environmental and financial standpoint. The prime sponsor of Senate Bill 6214, Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, said that it uses minimal pesticides and helps with erosion control.

She added that it is expected to cause an “explosive” boost in our state’s economy, citing that the U.S. imported $11.5 million worth of hemp products in 2011.

Committee members raised concerns that marijuana could be concealed in hemp fields.

Aimee Warner, the founder of a cannabis beauty line, brought her "hemp" briefcase to the hearing.

However, testifiers in favor of hemp legalization assured that the plants do not only look different – marijuana is thick and bushy and hemp is tall and thin – but cross pollination would also significantly reduce the potency of the plant.

Joy Beckerman Maher, a longtime industrial hemp consultant, who has been pushing for legalization for decades addressed the myth that hemp can give someone a “high.”

“The only feeling you would get is an awful headache,” said Maher.

Hemp is used to make everything from clothing and beauty products to seed oil and ice cream. The U.S. Declaration of Independence was even written on hemp paper.

On a national scale, the Farm Bill recently allowed hemp cultivation projects to be launched for research and state agriculture department in 10 states that have approved hemp production. These include California, Colorado, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia.

No action was taken at the hearing. The Impact will air a special segment about the issue Wednesday.

On ‘Legislative Review:’ Medical marijuana bills, capital budget hearing & wage bills

By | January 22, 2014 | 0 Comments

On Tuesday’s 15-minute recap of legislative activities on “Legislative Review,” we have highlights from a hearing on two competing medical marijuana bills.

In addition, legislators heard public testimony about Gov. Jay Inslee‘s proposed supplemental capital budget, which pays for the construction of public buildings and other projects. We also have details from a hearing the House Labor committee on four wage bills, which supporters say will crack down on wage fraud.

Watch the show below:

Local marijuana sales bans could be risky, board warns

By | January 17, 2014 | 0 Comments

Update: Jan. 17, 2014, 1 p.m.

Cities and counties that ban marijuana sales could revive illegal trade, warned the Washington State Liquor Control Board, which issued a statement Friday in response to Attorney General Bob Ferguson‘s opinion on whether Initiative 502 preempts local laws.

Ferguson’s opinion concluded that Washington cities and counties are allowed to ban and regulate marijuana businesses, despite the voter initiative that legalized recreational marijuana throughout the state.

“The legal opinion will be a disappointment to the majority of Washington’s voters who approved Initiative 502,” Sharon Foster, chair of the Washington State Liquor Control Board, wrote in a statement.

“We’re not yet sure how this opinion will change the implementation of the initiative. If some local governments impose bans it will impact public safety by allowing the current illicit market to continue. It will also reduce the state’s expectations for revenue generated from the legal system we are putting in place,” Foster said.

Original post published Jan. 17, 2014, 8:52 a.m.

Cities and counties may ban marijuana businesses, despite a voter initiative that legalized marijuana in Washington state, according to Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson.

According to Ferguson, Initiative 502 decriminalizes marijuana and creates a regulation system for sales and production. But it doesn’t preempt any local ordinances that outlaw or regulate marijuana retail locations.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson

He issued the opinion Thursday in response to a request by the Washington State Liquor Control Board.

According to Ferguson’s opinion:

“Under Washington law, there is a strong presumption against finding that state law preempts local ordinances. Although Initiative 502 establishes a licensing and regulatory system for marijuana producers, processors, and retailers in Washington State, it includes no clear indication that it was intended to preempt local authority to regulate such businesses. We therefore conclude that I-502 left in place the normal powers of local governments to regulate within their jurisdictions.”

Watch Ferguson’s announcement on TVW. The Seattle Times and KUOW have reports on reaction to Ferguson’s opinion.

Categories: Marijuana

Medical marijuana initiatives seek patient protections

By | January 10, 2014 | 0 Comments

Medical marijuana advocate Kirk Ludden says patients who use medical marijuana products have fallen through the cracks as the state creates new laws for recreational pot.

So, Ludden, of Seattle, has filed several voter initiatives addressing medical marijuana laws this week, which address some of concerns over the recommendations made by the Washington State Liquor Control Board, the Department of Health and the Department of Revenue, which held hearings on the topic last year.

Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, as in past years, has plans to introduce protections for patients to state’s medical marijuana law in this year’s legislative session, she told Business Insider. And Rep. Eileen Cody, D-Seattle, already has introduced HB 2149, which will address medical marijuana laws and will be heard at the House Health Care and Wellness Committee at 8 a.m. Wednesday.

But, Ludden is tired by what he sees as past political interference that have curtailed attempts to restore the intentions of Initiative 692, the 1998 medical marijuana initiative. He said that he hopes the voters will have a chance to weigh in again on medical marijuana.

“This initiative would be the way we get our law back,” he said.

While recreational marijuana was decriminalized following the passage of Initiative 502 in 2012, marijuana has been available to patients with a doctor’s prescription after the passage of I-692.

While I-502 doesn’t change any medical marijuana laws directly, legislators asked the Washington State Liquor Control Board, the Department of Health and the Department of Revenue, to write new recommendations for medical marijuana.

WSLCB officials released recommendations in December, including the creation a medical marijuana registry for patients and providers, limiting the number of plants in a patient’s possession to six and subjecting medical marijuana to the same state tax as recreational marijuana.

Ludden says the recommendations drawn up by the Washington State Liquor Control Board doesn’t preserve the intent of the original medical marijuana initiative, and could be harmful for patients.

“We aren’t sex offenders,” he said. “There’s no reason for a patient to put his name on a list.”

Ludden added that a 25 percent state excise tax applied to marijuana could make the herb too expensive for patients, who have to pay out of pocket to buy it.

Ludden has filed several initiatives to the voters this week, which include protections such as establishing a separate state board for medical marijuana, exempting medical marijuana from the excise tax and allowing patients to grow up to 15 plants. You can see the initiatives as filed on the Secretary of State’s website.

Supporters of the initiatives, which have not yet been assigned numbers, will have to collect at least 246,372 signatures of registered voters and turn them in to the Washington Secretary of State’s Office by July 3 in order to make the November ballot.

You can watch a 2013 hearing on medical marijuana recommendations in TVW’s archives.

Washington begins accepting applications for marijuana businesses

By | November 18, 2013 | 0 Comments

At 70, retired state worker James Brown is embarking on a new career: Marijuana grower and processor.

The Olympia resident was one of a handful of people who submitted paperwork in person at the Dept. of Revenue on Monday morning, the first day that entrepreneurs could apply for a marijuana business license.

James Brown (right) asks questions about the marijuana application process Monday at the Dept. of Revenue

“It’s a new adventure,” said Brown, who already has financing and a construction plan in place for his pot-growing operation in Thurston County.

“We’re ready to start putting out product,” he said.

Representatives from the Liquor Control Board, Dept. of Revenue and Secretary of State’s office were on hand to answer questions people had about the application process.

They said most people appeared to be applying online — more than 50 applications were submitted online in the first hour alone.

Monday was the first day of a 30-day window to apply to become a marijuana producer, processor or retailer. There’s no limit on the number of producers or processors, but the state has capped the number of marijuana retail stores at 334.

The Liquor Control Board will begin reviewing the applications later this week. An application could be denied if the applicant has a criminal history, questionable financing or an objection from the local government.

Marijuana retail stores are expected to open in June as part of Initiative 502, which legalized pot in Washington state.

Going into the marijuana business isn’t just about money for Brown. He says it will provide supplemental income to his retirement and social security benefits. But mostly, it “gives me something to do.”

Brown, who is retired from the Dept. of Labor and Industries, said he saw the benefits of marijuana after members of his family suffered injuries in three separate car crashes.

For more about the marijuana application process, tune in to “The Impact” on TVW on Wednesday at 7 & 10 p.m. to meet a Seattle resident applying for a license and see his operation site.

Medical marijuana advocates want the Legislature to allow home grows

By | November 14, 2013 | 0 Comments

Medical marijuana patients in Washington say they should be allowed to continue growing pot at home or in collective gardens, arguing that they have special needs that won’t be met by the state’s legal market.

More than 100 patients packed a hearing Wednesday evening to testify on a set of recommendations proposed by three state agencies on how to regulate the medical marijuana industry. The meeting was raucous at times, with speakers frequently interrupted by cheers or jeers.

The Liquor Control Board, Department of Revenue and Department of Health released a draft proposal in October of their recommendations, which would effectively eliminate the medical marijuana dispensaries that are common throughout the Puget Sound.

The state agencies have called for eliminating home grows, reducing the amount of pot that a patient can possess to three ounces (the current limit is 24 ounces) and creating a mandatory state-run patient registry.

“These recommendations are awful and unacceptable,” said Philip Dawdy of the Washington Cannabis Association at Wednesday’s hearing.

Dawdy and others argue that the legal I-502 market will not be able to handle the needs of medical marijuana patients, who prefer products with high cannabidiol (CBD) levels — which provides relief from chronic pain — but low in THC, the psychoactive component.

Home grows and collective gardens are the source of “innovation” in the medical marijuana industry, Dawdy said.

The Liquor Control Board has received more than 850 written comments about medical marijuana during the public comment period that ended this week. An additional 122 people signed up to testify at Wednesday’s hearing.

The agency said the No. 1 concern it received was about the elimination of home grows. Patients also said the three ounce limit was too small, and asked for medical marijuana dispensaries to remain open.

The Liquor Control Board will adopt revised recommendations in December. A final draft will be forwarded in January to the state Legislature, which is expected to take action on the issue next session.

Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, is drafting legislation to regulate the medical marijuana industry. A legislative aide spoke on her behalf at Wednesday’s meeting, saying that Kohl-Welles wants to allow home grows and collective gardens.

Kohl-Welles supports the three ounce limit, but prefers a voluntary patient registry instead of a mandatory one.

TVW taped Wednesday’s public hearing — watch it here.

Medical marijuana recommendations released

By | October 21, 2013 | 0 Comments

State agencies are recommending a new, tightly regulated medical marijuana industry in Washington that would require patients to register with the state, eliminate home grows and reduce the amount of pot they can possess.

The Liquor Control Board, Department of Revenue and Department of Health released a draft proposal on Monday of their recommendations. The public has until Nov. 8 to comment on the proposal, and it will be submitted to the Legislature in January.

Among the highlights:

  • The state Dept. of Health will create a mandatory patient and provider registry. Registration expires annually, and patients must undergo a new exam before renewing their prescription.
  • Patients will be exempt from paying state and local taxes if they’re listed on the registry.
  • Children younger than 17 can qualify as a medical marijuana patient if they have parental consent.
  • Doctors or other health professionals that prescribe marijuana must have a permanent office. Their practice cannot consist primarily of authorizing marijuana.
  • The proposal reduces the amount of marijuana a patient can possess to three ounces (the current limit is 24 ounces).
  • Eliminates home grows.

Read the full proposal here.

Categories: Marijuana

Marijuana testing labs await state standards

By | October 15, 2013 | 0 Comments

People buying marijuana from a Washington store next year can feel comfortable knowing that the pot they’re smoking isn’t contaminated by mold, pesticides or E. Coli.

Initiative 502 requires testing of marijuana before its sold to the public.

But the labs that will be testing Washington’s weed don’t yet know what standards they’ll be required to follow — an issue that Washington’s pot officials say they are working on.

“We’re really close to having the standards finished,” said Liquor Control Board consultant Randy Simmons.

Simmons said the state is working on a draft “monograph” book that will set the standards for how labs should test marijuana for THC potency, microorganisms and pesticides.

“We’re hoping in the next few weeks to have a final monograth and then labs will know how to move forward,” Simmons said.

Marijuana testing is not new. Analytical 360 began testing marijuana two years ago in a small space in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood. The lab now tests test an average of 50 samples a day, and they’re upgrading to a 4,000-square-foot warehouse in Georgetown this fall.

Demand for their services was initially driven by medical marijuana patients who wanted to know more about their medicine, said chief operating officer Ed Stremlow. Cultivators quickly got on board because they wanted quality control of their crops — “just like in agriculture” — and to protect their profits, he said. (more…)

Categories: Marijuana