Archive for Marijuana

Veterans say PTSD should qualify for medical marijuana use

By | February 17, 2015 | 0 Comments

Veterans asked lawmakers on Tuesday to back a bill that would add post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to the conditions that qualify for the use of medical marijuana. It would be the first mental health condition to qualify.

Cory Kemp, who was blinded, suffered a traumatic brain injury and diagnosed with PTSD after a bomb explosion in Afghanistan, said medical marijuana helped when traditional medicine did not.

Marijuana on the shelf at a medical marijana dispensary. Photo by Ashley Stewart for TVW.

“After trying four pharmaceuticals, and having some pretty negative side effects about 15 months ago I was able to wean myself off that last pharmaceutical. I’ve been using cannabis exclusively, not only have I had greater relief from a lot of the effects of my brain injury and PTSD, I’ve been able to have that relief without the debilitating side effects that I had with those pharmaceuticals that pretty much kept me confined to a chair for the majority of my day,” he said.

Kemp was one of several veterans and others who testified in favor of the bill.

Currently, medical marijuana is available to patients diagnosed with terminal or debilitating medical conditions, including cancer, AIDS, epilepsy and chronic pain. Senate Bill 5379, sponsored by Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, would add Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a qualifying condition. While veterans appeared before the Senate Health Care committee on Tuesday, anyone diagnosed with the condition could qualify.

However, Seth Dawson of the Washington State Psychiatric Association spoke against the bill, saying the research shows that marijuana is not an effective mental health treatment. He was the sole opponent who testified against it.

“We wish we could say that the research bears out the claim that the use of marijuana would be beneficial in this context, but that’s not what the research says,” Dawson said. He said the use of marijuana correlates with worse outcomes and stopping the usage correlated with improved outcomes.

If passed, the bill would be in effect under either bill being considered in the Senate that would regulate the use of medical marijuana. A bill sponsored by Sen. Ann Rivers, R-La Center, passed off the floor last week. Another bill by Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, passed out of the Commerce and Labor Committee and was referred to Ways and Means on Tuesday.

*This post has been updated to correct a misspelled name.

Youth drug prevention programs untested after legal marijuana

By | January 26, 2015 | 0 Comments

Legalized marijuana is a new world for youth drug prevention programs, and the data does not yet exist to determine which programs are the most effective, prevention specialists told lawmakers Monday morning.

“There just hasn’t been enough done specifically looking at youth marijuana use… especially in the context of legalized marijuana,” Brittany Rhoades Cooper, an assistant professor in Washington State University’s Department of Human Development, told the Senate Human Services, Mental Health and Housing committee, which heard Senate Bill 5245.

Initiative 502 provides 15 percent of the state’s marijuana excise tax to the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS). The agency is required to use 85 percent of that funding for prevention programs that are “evidence-based” and “cost-beneficial.” DSHS is expected to receive $29 million for the 2015-17 biennium, and $52 million for the 2017-19 biennium from marijuana excise taxes.

However, prevention specialists told the committee that the data still need to be gathered on the effectiveness of programs and why they work — especially now with recreational marijuana legal in Washington.

“No programs have ever been tested in the context of legalized marijuana,” said Kevin Haggerty, a professor at the University of Washington School of Social Work.

Senate Bill 5245 would allow DSHS to use the money it gets from Initiative 502 to evaluate drug prevention programs.

“Communities should have the best evidence to do the work,” Haggerty said. “We owe it to our communities to provide a strong menu of options…. and we need to provide programs in the context of legalized marijuana.”

The bill also would delay the requirement that the funded programs have a good cost-benefit analysis until 2020, but it still allows local communities to use money for prevention programs in the meantime.

Cooper added that it was important continue to fund prevention programs while the studies are being done.

If the funding isn’t maintained, “all of the good intended by those dollars will likely fall short, and our communities can’t wait until the research catches up,” she said.

Medical marijuana regulations proposed in two separate bills

By | January 22, 2015 | 0 Comments

Lawmakers have been saying for the past few years that medical marijuana needs clear regulations as the state allows retail marijuana shops, which were made legal by the passage of Initiative 502.

The Senate in 2014 passed a medical marijuana bill written by Sen. Ann Rivers, R-La Center, with a number of amendments by Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, but the House did not vote on it.

This session, Rivers and Kohl-Welles once again proposed different bills that would create a medical marijuana system alongside the recreational market.

Rivers introduced Senate Bill 5052 before session. Among the proposed rules are:

  • Establishes a registry for patients and for medical marijuana stores.
  • Barring smoking products and smokable marijuana to be sold as medical products.
  • Exempting medical marijuana products from use tax and sales tax.
  • Allowing medical marijuana patients to have up to six plants — a reduction from the 15 allowed now – and allowing patients to grow their own marijuana.
  • Replacing collective gardens with registered growing cooperatives, where only members could participate with no monetary payment.

Rivers’ original language called for a medical marijuana retail license, but Rivers said Thursday she would change her bill to establish three types of stores: those that sell both medical and recreational; and those that just sell one or the other.

Kohl-Welles earlier this week held a press conference announcing Senate Bill 5519. SB 5519 would phase out the collective gardens and dispensaries and do away with the medical authorization system. The medical products would be available in marijuana I-502 retail stores.

  • Making low-THC, high CBD products tax-free
  • Making available an additional endorsement to show that a store has expertise in medical marijuana.
  • Allowing medical marijuana patients to have up to six plants.
  • Creating a waiver for marijuana patients who need more than six plants. The waiver also would allow for people to purchase of retail marijuana without sales tax.
  • Permitting anyone 21 and older to grow up to six plants or fewer for their own personal use. People may give to one ounce of usable marijuana that they’ve grown to another person without compensation.
  • Would not create a registry for patients.

Kohl-Welles emphasized that her bill shares similarities with Rivers’ bill.

“My colleague on the other side of the aisle, Sen. Ann Rivers, is also working hard on this issue and her legislation has many commonalities with mine,” Kohl-Welles said in a statement. “I anticipate that we will find a way to pass legislation that combines the best of both of our proposals.”

Rivers’ bill was heard Thursday, which also was Medical Cannabis Lobby Day at the Capitol.

Retailers, collective garden organizers, activists and patients testified to Rivers’ bill on Thursday both for and against the bill.

Ryan Day of Federal Way was one of the speakers on Sen. Ann Rivers' medical marijuana bill.

Ryan Day, who grows medical marijuana that stops the seizures of his six-year-old son, Haiden, said that getting rid of the collective garden system would make it difficult to provide his son’s treatment when their plants at home haven’t fully grown.

The type of cannabis that Day grows does not cause a high, which makes it hard to obtain on the recreational market, he said. Day said that he wants to work with lawmakers to create a system that gives options other than recreational marijuana stores for patients to get medicinal cannabis.

“I went to a recreational store. The interior reminded me of the basement in ‘That ’70s Show,’ ” Day said after the meeting.

TVW took video of the press conferences and the public hearing:

Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles press conference

Senate Health Care Public Hearing

Sen. Ann Rivers press conference

Rep. Klippert: Repeal legal marijuana, recognize fetus in murder cases

By | January 21, 2015 | 0 Comments

Two controversial measures could appear before lawmakers this session – a bill to repeal recreational marijuana and another that would recognize a fetus as a victim if a crime is committed against a pregnant mother.

Rep. Brad Klippert

Rep. Brad Klippert plans to introduce legislation to repeal Initiative 502, the voter-approved measure legalizing marijuana, he told TVW. “Possession and consumption of marijuana by our children is skyrocketing. The black market for marijuana is skyrocketing,” he said Wednesday. “It’s not being a positive thing for our state – it’s actually having some negative effects.

The Kennewick Republican will need a majority of lawmakers to agree in order to repeal the measure. Two-thirds of lawmakers must vote repeal, suspend or amend an initiative within two years of passage. Since I-502 was approved in 2012, it doesn’t have to meet that standard and could be repealed by a simple majority, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.

Other lawmakers have introduced reforms to the state’s legal marijuana system. The so-called “Comprehensive Marijuana Reform Act,” introduced Wednesday, would merge I-502 with the state’s medical marijuana system, which has been largely unregulated since the initiative was implemented.

Another bill Klippert plans to introduce would would make it a crime to kill a fetus in some circumstances. If a suspect kills an unborn child during a crime against the pregnant mother, he or she could be charged with first-degree murder.

Klippert, a Benton County Sheriff’s officer, says the bill comes after he responded to a triple murder with a pregnant victim. “Now, the way the law is written, we cannot charge that suspect with aggravated murder of that child,” he said.

Rep. Roger Goodman, the Kirkland Democrat who chairs the House Public Safety Committee, said the bill will stir debate. “The question of viability or personhood of a child not yet born is probably the most controversial issue that we deal with in the legislature,” Goodman said. “That issue will certainly come up when we hear this proposal.”

Klippert and Goodman will appear on TVW’s The Impact with Anita Kissee at 7 and 10 p.m. Wednesday.

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.