WA NORML 2017 State Of The Session Report (Part 2)

What we lobbied for, What we got, and Will we be able to do it again?

By Bailey Hirschburg

WASHINGTON: For the first time Washington NORML had a regular lobbyist in Olympia this year. The truth is NORML has almost always been staffed by volunteer activists. That’s what I was, at a NORML chapter in Missouri, interning for NORML’s national office in Washington DC, and later as head of NORML’s Thurston County chapter. The reward I got from it was doing the right thing, great stories, and lifelong friends. (Oh, as an intern NORML reimbursed subway fare.)

I was shocked when Kevin Oliver, the head of Washington NORML, said he’d raised some money to hire a lobbyist. But the professional he had in mind wanted it all, and didn’t believe the legislature would pass home growing of cannabis by adults, so wasn’t going to try. I promised to do it for much less, and give a damn about the things recreational consumers care about because I was one. I’ve lobbied as a citizen, but doing this as a job was another level.

Lobbying part time along with a second job I got up close and personal with a lot of bills. What did I do, and what changed? My focus this session broke down into five areas:

  • Securing fair permitting for on-site cannabis use by for adults 21 and older. A draft bill to allow special permits for marijuana consumption events was drafted and shopped around to various members. Despite bipartisan interest failed to find a primary sponsor in time. However, a previous bill to allow cigar bars may be adapted to include marijuana on-site consumption. This leaves two avenues for social use, at a time that the policy is expanding among legal cannabis states.
  • Securing cannabis homegrow protections and establishing a system of seed/clone sale for adults 21 and older. Two bills were heard this session to legalize personal cultivation, HB 1092 & 1212. HB 1212 passed unanimously out of Commerce & Gaming, and through the Rules review to the Finance committee, the farthest any such bill has progressed in the state. I searched for a sponsor for a draft bill to allow seed/clone sales to adults, making the law continent on personal cultivation being enacted this year. Apathy in the state senate slowed progress along with lingering questions about enforcement needs and federal intervention. In SB5131, the LCB has been mandated to produce a report on personal cultivation for the legislature by December. Beyond submitting information and rallying stakeholders, WA NORML will be looking for the best ways to raise consumer influence in this report, without which, it’s recommendations may not be trustworthy.
  • Promote taxation/regulatory reforms that will benefit adult cannabis consumers. With the passage of an organic-like certification for cannabis products, legalized sharing/gifting of cannabis, expanded hemp access and use in consumer products, and regulation of infused edible production that is closer to other food industries, there are several ways in which the legal consumer will be better off with the changes in this session. Particularly the sharing/gifting of cannabis, while not a source of many arrests, remained a blindspot and common complaint against our legal framework.
  • Promote reforms that will increase access and security in the sale of medically affordable compliant cannabis to patients/caregivers.  Patient access to legal clones/seeds will be larger due to laws passed this year. Involving a rules process takes time, new laws will bring greater availability and stability to patients and caregivers producing their own medicine. Similarly to regular consumers, patients will also benefit from the organic-like certification, as recreational plant testing is often deemed inadequate for patient needs. Maddie’s Law, which would assist patient-students medicating on school property passed the house with broad support, and initially had senate momentum, but senate leadership halted progress and kept the bill from a floor vote. However, it’s simple change and broad popularity leave it well positioned to be addressed in the future, particularly as the U.S. Congress has maintained a ban on DEA interference in state-legal medical programs.
  • Working to improve legislation where possible and oppose when necessary. An unfortunate reality is that some of the biggest victories this year were stopping damaging bills or amendments. In other cases objections were ignored. Nonetheless, opposition to billboard bans, increased public consumption penalties, increased packaging/concentrate penalties, banning of bitcoin, and retail bans in Alcohol Impact Areas helped keep these issues from advancing. Other areas like out-of-state financial stake, or increased licensee fees were opposed but amended into other legislation. While not perfect, success in stopping bad legislation is crucial to stemming any prohibition resurgence.

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Most of my efforts were on HB1212, HB1060, ESSB5131, and searching for sponsors for two draft bills on seed sale and social use permitting. I also testified, signed in with a position available to answer questions at legislative hearings, submitted written materials, or spoke with lawmakers about the following bills:

Medical Cannabis Bills- 

Pro: HB1098, HB1094, HB1060/SB5290, HB2021 Con: SB5933

Recreational Cannabis Bill-

Pro: HB1092, HB1099, HB1212, HB1124, HB1461/SB5323, HB1462 (enacted)/SB5324 Con: HB1416, HB1065, HB1151, SB5282 Other: HB1250 (enacted)

Hemp Bills-

Pro: HB1692 Other: HB2064 (enacted)

Research/Misc. Bills-

Pro: HB1895 Other: SB5131 (enacted)

Changes from Enacted bills- 

HB2064- Removing industrial hemp from the scope of the uniform controlled substances act.

Removing hemp from Washington’s CSA is positive in that it makes an ecologically and industrially beneficial plant available. However it’s lack of rules damage long term viability of the industry and outdoor cannabis grows with the risk of cross-pollination, absence of certified seed programs, and absent research component as required by Sec. 7606 of the federal Farm Bill. Amendments in SB5131, and recent rules proposed by the Washington State Dept. of Agriculture, should establish some hemp licensing, research parameters, and use in marijuana products but a seed certification program still depends on some federal cooperation.

HB1250- Authorizing retail marijuana outlets to give a free lockable drug box to adults age twenty-one years and over and to qualifying patients age eighteen years and over subject to restrictions.

By updating RCW 69.50.357, this bill allows retailers to “donate the lockable boxes and provide the related literature to any person eligible to purchase marijuana products” that they receive from a third party entity. Nothing in the law requires person eligible to buy anything in order to receive a lockbox and literature, and retailers are allowed to sell lockboxes (assuming they weren’t donated to the retailer) as well as distribute lockboxes that have been donated. I lobbied for the term “upon request” to be added so that consumers who actively want to store cannabis in lockboxes will get them versus the first customer offered a free item.

HB1462- Adding authority to the department of agriculture to regulate sanitary processing of marijuana-infused edibles.

This bill creates an edible endorsement for processors and greater authority for the Dept. of Agriculture to regulate infused edibles similar to that agencies other food handling regulation. While edible production was within the scope of licensed processors with approved facilities, those licensees will now need this endorsement with a separate application/renewal process all edible sales. This will involve Dept. of Agriculture adopting rules specifically for marijuana edibles, with an understanding “Such rules must be written and interpreted to be consistent with rules adopted by the board [LCB] and the department of health.” By April 1st, 2018 rules will regulate edibles similar to other food handling licenses with some exceptions including:

  • issuance of the endorsement in lieu of a food processing license through the Dept. of Ag. business licensing system;
  • separate penalty schedule to operate in addition to the penalty schedule of the LCB;
  • must be obtained by any licensee that “processes, packages, or makes marijuana-infused edibles;”
  • endorsement renewal will coincide with marijuana processors license renewal, but must already hold processors license before initial issuance.
  • The licensee needs a separate endorsement for each location, and no facility can be used to process non-marijuana infused foods except “solely for tasting samples or internal product testing.”

SB5131- Addressing provisions concerning marijuana with respect to research licenses, local authority notifications, the retail licensing application process, processor wholesale events, and jurisdictional requirements.

Just signed into law by Gov. Inslee. I’ve written extensively on this bill for MJNewsNetwork, and have described it as “omnicannabis” because it is multiple bills addressing a wide variety of issues. Here’s a brief overview of what it does:

-Medical Garden Access: Allows licensed marijuana producers to sell immature cannabis plants, clones, and seeds to qualifying patients who enter the state’s medical marijuana database. A close reading of Sec. 11 suggests authorized but unregistered patients may be able to buy seeds, this may be allowed or banned by LCB rules process.

   -Homegrow Report: The LCB must examine the viability of allowing recreational users to grow their own marijuana, with the enforcement priorities outlined in the Cole Memo as the central guidelines for their recommendation.

-Retail License Limit: A retailer or individual “with a financial or other ownership interest in” a retail license can own up to five retail licenses.

-Forfeiting Licenses: Require the LCB forfeit retail licenses which have been issued but are not operational and open to the public unless the delay is due to circumstances beyond the licensee’s control, for example if the licensee has been unable to open because of a local moratorium, ban, or because zoning, licensing or other regulatory measures prevent it from opening.

-Gifting Marijuana: Adults can deliver marijuana each other in half the legal possession amounts so long as the pot is offered as a gift without financial remuneration so long as the marijuana shared is either in it’s original packaging, or not in public view.

-Tribal Oversight: The LCB must get approval from a federally recognized Indian Tribe prior to granting a license on tribal land.

-Licensing Contracts & Disclosure: Allow a licensees to enter into agreements or consulting contracts “with any individual, partnership, employee cooperative, association, nonprofit corporation, or corporation” for goods or services, trademarks, trade secrets or proprietary information. The agreement must be disclosed to the LCB, but various information and financial considerations are exempt from the state’s Public Disclosure Act.

-Organic-Equivalent Pot: The LCB is instructed to adopt regulations for marijuana similar to products federally certified as organic. The LCB will implement regulations for marijuana to be grown similar to organic products. These products will have a uniform title and labeling.

-Processing Hemp: The LCB must study the viability of letting licensed processors process industrial hemp. This may lead to legislation to allow processors to purchase plant material from farmers licensed to grow hemp.

-Advertising: Significant changes focused on advertising to kids. Prohibits licensees from taking “any action directly or indirectly to target youth in the advertising, promotion, or marketing of marijuana and marijuana products, or take any action the primary purpose of which is to initiate, maintain, or increase the incidence of youth use of marijuana or marijuana products.” This includes prohibiting toys, movie/cartoon characters, or images that would pique underage interest in pot. It also bans using commercial mascots, as defined to mean “a live human being, animal, or mechanical device used for attracting the attention of motorists and passersby so as to make them aware of marijuana products or the presence of a marijuana business.” This covers staff in costume, inflatable tube displays, or sign spinners. Cities and counties can further restrict advertising, but must enforce extra limits themselves.

  -Billboards: A marijuana retailer may now only use a billboard to identify the name or nature of the business and directions to its location. Outdoor signs could not contain depictions of marijuana plants, products, or images that appeal to children. Outdoor advertising would be prohibited in “arenas, stadiums, shopping malls, fairs that receive state allocations, farmers markets, and video game arcades.” An exception allows outdoor advertising at adult-only events.

As you see, I got a lot done, and I had help and support, but faced off with a lot of professional lobbyists whose careers or relationships in Olympia go a long way. There are bad lobbyists and corrupt special interests. But typically, with them comes big money and disproportionate influence. I talked with a woman earlier this year who said she wouldn’t trust any marijuana activist that got paid to lobby. I told her I understood, then shook her hand and told her I hoped she had just met one she could trust. I hope being open and clear about what I did, didn’t do, or hoped to do offers a small gesture that I mean well, even if I’m not the slickest salesman ever. Cannabis consumers care about fair influence after generations of laws being made ABOUT them but not WITH them.

Are there other lobbyists publicize the oversight of themselves? Maybe, but I’ve never met any who did. In my first article about my lobbying here at MJNewsNetwork, I explained that you can find my lobbyist reporting to the state’s Public Disclosure Commission here: 

I’m honored and humbled that any group would pay me to lobby for better pot laws. I dream of doing that more often than gaining online fame. But between my wife and me, we have a full time job, three part time jobs, and one car to get us to them. My payment from Washington NORML is a matter of record, and has been very generous, but it’s not making me rich.

That’s fine, my getting rich is not the point. Our fight is far from over, but the battlefield is different, and organizing protests or petitions is costlier and won’t engage a voting public that largely finds pot accessible and available. Traditional lobbying carries risks, no doubt, and it’s not the same as flipping off the status quo for it’s many oppressive practices. But supporting consumer lobbying is going to get more wins in legal states than future statewide ballot efforts. The point is that the marijuana community should work together and support traditional lobbying in places with legal pot. It’s not as exciting or visible, but it’s crucial.

The problem with gains is they have to be maintained. I’ll be speaking up for home grow, or any other legislation that makes sense next year, no matter what. I don’t know if WA NORML will have support to pay me, or anyone, to lobby. I’ll do what I can, but don’t know what time I’ll have left to do it. This has always been the struggle of volunteer activists, but these are gains worth maintaining, hopefully cannabis consumers will support WA NORML the way WA NORML has supported them (and me).

WA NORML 2017 Cannabis Lobby Day at WA State Capital In Olympia Is March 7th

WASHINGTON: The cannabis community in Washington is activating once again for the annual Lobby Day in Olympia.  This year’s theme is “Building Community Through Relationships” and Washington NORML is doing that by bringing together cannabis consumers and members of our legal industry to meet with lawmakers, according to Kevin Oliver, executive director of WANORML. “We will be discussing medical and recreational cannabis bills as well as industry changes that benefit consumers.”

Screenshot 2017-03-02 11.58.21What: Cannabis community lobby day- “Building Community Through Relationships.” 

When: 3/7/17, 9:30am-5pm 

WA NORML PAC Reception 5-7pm

Where: State Capitol Campus, Olympia, WA. Office Building 2 (OB2) auditorium, 1115 Washington St SE, Olympia, WA 98501 

Who: sponsored by NORML Women of Washington, Washington NORML PAC, S.A.G.E., and The Cannabis Alliance 

Request a meeting with your representatives and state senators now!

Besides meeting lawmakers, you’ll network with other concerned citizens that day then have the chance for some light food with attendees and legislators during a reception following that days events at Olympia’s Governor Hotel.

The Days Events:

– Meet at 9:30am for opening greeting and lobby training. 

– Group photo at noon out front of Pritchard Library followed by lunch on your own

– Meetings with your legislators (Schedule your own, find your elected officials here)

– Wrap-up discussion from 4-5pm, followed by a reception at the Governor Hotel, 621 Capitol Way S Olympia, WA 98501, lite food/drink service*

WA NORML Pac Lobbyist: Growing Opportunities For Cannabis Consumers

By M. Bailey Hirschburg

WASHINGTON: It’s difficult asking people to get excited about lobbyists. Who can blame them? There are enough examples of lobbyists putting personal gain and access to power ahead of public good, or striking deals on issues they barely care about just to cash a paycheck.

Still, I’m excited to be a lobbyist. I’ve been hired by Washington NORML’s new Political Action Committee (PAC) to represent cannabis consumers interests in Olympia this year. After years of volunteering my time w/ NORML, the Drug Policy Alliance, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, and New Approach Washington’s I-502, this is the first time I’ve been paid to work on drug law reform.

It’s part time. I’m likely one of the lowest paid lobbyists at the Capitol. There are lots of lobbyists dealing with marijuana policies but they often look out for businesses, medical patients, governments or police. What about everyday adult consumers? That’s where I’ll come in.

Strictly speaking, I’m working under the direction of WA NORML PAC’s board of directors. It’s headed by Kevin Oliver, a long time cannabis activist, and a licensed grower from eastern Washington. My proposal to Oliver and WA NORML PAC was based on looking out for cannabis consumers in Washington specifically, and the security of marijuana rights generally. I won’t support bills only to help businesses. I won’t speak for patients or hemp farmers, but I will speak with and stand beside them as much as possible.

WA NORML PAC priorities this session will focus on legalizing homegrow for adults, which every other legal state has in some way. And permitting fair on-site cannabis use policies to make social smoking in licensed businesses and events more common, and use on public streets less common. There’s a lot of cannabis laws already introduced; I’ll be promoting legislation benefiting cannabis consumers while opposing bills that needlessly criminalize or put undue burdens on them. Vigilance is crucial to maintaining the legal system voters enacted.

None of this stops everyday cannabis consumers reading this from contacting their lawmakers and speaking their minds. In fact, NORML.org is a great resource for you. That’s how I got here. You can read up on my required reporting to the state Public Disclosure Commission, beginning next month, here.

And you can learn about the requirements and limitations for lobbyists in Washington here:

NORML is the oldest marijuana advocacy group in the nation, and this year they’re organizing a series of lobbying days nationwide to help put you in front of lawmakers to share your concerns. In Washington, it will be Tuesday, March 7th, headed by NORML Women of Washington and WA NORML PAC, and whatever your canna-policy passion we can help you make your best case to lawmakers.

WA NORML PAC will make all the progress possible, but I hope everyone who cares about cannabis issues will continue to learn and work with legislators so we can secure more rights and enjoy greater benefits across Washington.

M. Bailey Hirschburg is a long time advocate of justice reform with expertise in drug policy and a focus on marijuana law. He is director of Thurston County NORML and was the south sound volunteer organizer for 2012’s Initiative 502 which legalized and regulated adult marijuana use statewide.

The Wink In Weed: Leap Day Cannabis Industry Report

By David Rheins

Happy Leap Day.  The last two weeks of February have been such a whirlwind of hyperactivity for myself and Team MJBA that I need the extra day to tell you all about it.

On February 17th, MJBA Seattle presented, “Managing Your 502 Business,” a two-hour business boot camp designed to provide Washington’s licensed cannabis companies with “must have” information and best practices.  Sponsored by NWMJ Law, the professional education seminar featured presentations from top industry authorities, including Act Resources, Dani Espinda; Mosaic Insurance’s Norm Ives; business coach Debbie Whitlock and NWMJ Law’s Anne Van Leynseele.

The entire event was recorded, and can be viewed on MJChannelOne:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=68iRB9vebNQ&w=420&h=315]

The very next day, Team MJBA packed up our tent and made our way down to Seattle’s Pier 91 for CannaCon.  The three-day event, February 18th, 19th and 20th, has become a keystone event for MJBA/MJBA Women’s Alliance, one where we participate as exhibitor, and media sponsor.  This year, both Morgan and I were featured speakers,  I had the honor to moderate 10 panels, and conduct a host of 1:1 taped interviews with CannaCon speakers, exhibitors and other industry leaders (special thank you to Darin Bruce and his AV team).

BDS CEO Roy Bingham delivered a keynote at CannaCon

BDS CEO Roy Bingham delivered a keynote at CannaCon

This was MJBA’s fourth CannaCon and I could not help but be struck by both how large and professional the industry and “the business of cannabis” show has become.   Everyone who is anyone in cannabis was present: Washington’s top cannabis regulators came out to participate as panelists, including WSLCB Director Rick Garza, WSDH’s Kristi Weeks, and the WSDA’s Steve Fuller.  This year’s panelists include a very diverse representation from the broad tent of our cannabis community, including long-time activists like Cat Jeter, Kristin Flor, Don E Wirtshafter and Vivian McPeak; legendary growers like Ed Rosenthal, Kyle Kushman and Farmer Tom Lauerman; media personalities like Katherine Grimm and Cheryl Shuman, and a host of power women in cannabis, including Eden Lab’s AC Braddock, Seattle Hempfest’s Sharon Whitson, Washington’s Finest Cannabis founder Crystal Oliver, Cannabis Basic’s Ah Warner, Kush Creams’ Megan Schwarting, and Washington Bud Company’s Shawn DeNae.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h_ewkwNh5kc&w=420&h=315]

On Thursday, February 25th, MJBA Spokane held its February Meetup at a new venue, The Black Diamond.  Jon Legualt, Belladonna Growhouse, was our host and a featured presenter. He shared the stage with Washington’s Finest Crystal Oliver, who updated the group on what’s happening with Spokane’s Clean Air regulations and how they are impacting Eastern Washington producer/processors, and Kevin Oliver, executive director of Washington NORML, who gave the group a report from the legislative fronts in Olympia and Washington D.C.  Front Runner ceo Brian Yauger unveiled his latest offering, MJTicker.com, a real-time business intelligence portal designed especially for participants in the legal cannabis industry.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hy5YgjDTntE&w=420&h=315]

And finally, to close out the month, MJBA New York is hosting a Leap Year Happy Hour at Manhattan’s swanky Gansevoort Hotel. Hosted by MJBA NY’s Stu Zakim and Paul Abramson, the evening of information, community and opportunity takes place at the ultra-hip hotel, located at 420 Park Avenue!

Coming up next: MJBA Portland hosts a special Meetup: “Game On: The Business of Cannabis and Sports,” Wednesday, March 2nd at the On Deck Sports bar.  Sponsored by CannaGuard Security, the event will feature opening remarks by NBA All-Star turned cannabis entrepreneur Cliff Robinson, who’ll debut his new “Uncle Spliffy” brand.  Then an industry panel will discuss the many business opportunites that exist at the intersection of sports and cannabis.  VIP Panelists include Uncle Spliffy’s Linda Miller, Siverback Advisory Groups’ Marc Belsher, and Fore-Twenty Golf’s Matt Enos.

Reserve your spot for this historic discussion here:

 

MJBA Spokane Moves To New Home With May Meetup

By Morgan

WASHINGTON: More than three dozen leading cannabis industry professionals turned out this week for May monthly meetup of MJBA Spokane this week.  The regular meeting was the first at MJBA’s new location – Twigs Bistro and Martini Bar. The upscale restaurant elegantly situated lakeside created a welcoming environment for cannabis entrepreneurs looking for information, community and opportunity in the rapidly expanding industry.

Among those in attendance were MJBA National Sponsors NORML, represented by Washington NORML Executive Director Kevin Oliver, and Corporate Sponsors Blue Roots.   Tier 3 producer/processor Blue Roots has invested much time and energy building out their producer/processor facility, located southwest of downtown Spokane in a large industrial park. They offer a full cannabis product line, including premium flowers extractions and packaging for brands like Cinex, Super Max OG, Pine Skunk.

brcc-logo-jpg-250pxAccording to company leaders, Blue Roots utilizes a Vertically Integrated Continuous Cultivation System (VICCS)®, which allows the producer to maintain a continual harvest schedule in an efficient and hyper controlled environment, while increasing capacity without increasing the overall footprint.

Featured speaker Margee Chambers from Spokane Clean Air, and a team of experts, discussed the issues surrounding cannabis odor and environmental impacts of cannabis cultivation, both indoor and outdoor. 

20150513_103639Two new companies joined the ranks of the more than 420 businesses already enrolled as business members of MJBA – Spokane Producer,, and Science Solutions, SPC, whose mission is to provide multidisciplinary scientific expertise to inform policy around recreational and industrial cannabis. As new MJBA business members, each company was able to enjoy five minutes of stage time before the targeted group to promote their business, generate new business leads and create long-lasting business alliances. 

20150513_104852Additionally, many members took the opportunity to sign up for sponsorships and exhibition space at next month’s Cannabis Job Fair, taking place June 20th at the Spokane Convention Center from 10:00am to 4:20pm. Vendor tables are $250 for MJBA Members, $500 without membership.

How Sexy Is It To Be A Marijuana Farmer?

WASHINGTON:  Last Sunday saw the second MJBA Job Fair held at the Red Lion in Bellevue. Cannabis business industry leaders and enthusiastic job seekers converged for a day of networking and guest speakers.

One of the speaker panels featured Washington commercial cannabis farmers who discussed the challenges of having a large marijuana farm and running a growing business at the same time.

David Rheins, the panel’s MC, asked Farmer Tom Lauerman just how sexy is it to be a marijuana farmer? See his reply here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ROaF97_CMkk

Q&A With WA NORML Executive Director Kevin Oliver

WASHINGTON: As the so-called long session begins in Olympia, all eyes in Washington’s cannabis turn toward possible tweaks to I-502 licensed businesses and the future of medical marijuana.  MJ News Network asked Washington NORML’s Executive Director Kevin Oliver to give his predictions on what the coming year portends for Washington’s cannabis community.

Q: Many I-502 licensees complain both about the high tax rates on marijuana, and the special burdens of an excise tax. Can we expect any relief in the upcoming legislative session?

A: The legal adult possession and use of marijuana, as well as the taxed and legally regulated production, processing and sale of marijuana by WSLCB licensed businesses, will continue to roll out at an increased pace as protocols are streamlined and bugs in the licensing processes ironed out. Additionally, the legislature could collapse the current tax rate from a three tier system to one tax and in so doing lower the overall tax burden to marijuana businesses. Also, there seems to be a broad base of support to change the definition of the tax from an excise tax, (which disallows it being deducted from income on federal taxes), to a sales or trust fund tax, thereby allowing marijuana businesses to deduct state taxes from federal taxes.

Q: What is the future for Washington’s hundreds of unlicensed medical marijuana dispensaries?

A: It is very apparent that the current iteration of medical marijuana dispensaries – unlicensed and unregulated – are not viewed as legal or necessary by law makers or law enforcement. This will become increasingly clear as the legislature decides the best course of action for unlicensed commercial marijuana operations. The sick and dying deserve affordable access to quality marijuana, and it is my feeling that the legislature will take steps to ensure that access is provided in a legally regulated market.

Q: And what will that mean for the patients who depend on medical cannabis?

A: I do not believe that patients will suffer from regulation, indeed, every patient I know has, at one time or another, purchased moldy or buggy pot from a dispensary. That is not to say that some dispensaries are not on par with the best practices of quality control and selection that come standard to legal retail stores. It is only to say that, presently, dispensaries have as much liability and regulation as lemonade stands.

And, patients will always get their marijuana – especially here in WA. Marijuana, whether regulated or not, is ubiquitous to any state and almost every country in the world. It always has been and always will be. So, it seems rather elitist for dispensary owners and their suppliers, who either didn’t win a sweepstakes for a retail storefront or opted out of the license application process altogether, to suggest that the estimated 103,000 patients with a valid doctors recommendation in this state, (only a percentage of whom actually use dispensaries), will not be adequately serviced without them –especially when another few hundred legally licensed retail stores are going to be opened up this year with tons of high quality marijuana stocking their shelves.

Presently, there are proposals in the legislature that would allow the WA Department of Health to certify retail stores to sell marijuana as medicine to those patients with a valid recommendation.

Q:   Will we see new legislation this session addressing the local zoning and moratoria that have effectively banned legal marijuana operations in 40% of the state?

A: Legislatively, in regards to zoning and moratoria, a line item could be added to the law, as the AG has suggested, forcing those rogue municipalities that have decided to ban or put a moratoria on state licensed marijuana businesses to comply with the voter approved state law.

Additionally, some of those municipalities are lobbying for revenue sharing of I-502 taxes, therby competing with the state general fund for those revenues which were earmarked for the state sponsored health care program that was replaced by the Affordable Health care Act.

There is also a bill to disallow, statewide, any marijuana business on property zoned R-5. That designation may be logical for residential zones, but certainly are not necessary in rural zones that presently allow other forms of commerce.

Q:   How will 2015 set us up for the 2016 national elections?

A: From a national perspective, 2016 looks to be a game changer for marijuana reform. First of all, this year (2015), California will have at least one successful citizen proposition qualify for the ballot. It will win, as it will be tailored conservatively (relative to CA) to get the largest percentage of voters possible, much like I-502. And as California goes, so goes the country.

Second, 2015 will see some movement in the US congress, probably in regards to the issue of banking. On the front lines of that is WA’s own Denny Heck, who, as a freshman Representative last year, took the lead to sponsor the marijuana banking act. We can anticipate similar legislation this year and hopefully, with the addition of Oregon and Alaska (not to mention D.C.) along with several more states bound to legalize in the next few years, we will see a banking bill get traction.

Finally, it is entirely possible that President Obama could re-schedule marijuana after the 2016 election, which would allow pharmaceutical companies to market patented cannabinoid products within the frame work of modern western medicine.

Washington’s Bumpy Start Selling Pot Was A ‘Dress Rehersal’; Now It’s Ready For The Big Time

WASHINGTON:  Washington has stumbled a few times in implementing Initiative-502, which legalized the use and sale, as well as taxation, of recreational marijuana.

The Evergreen State and Colorado were the first states in the nation to legalize recreational marijuana, in the November 2012 elections. Washington’s first legal marijuana sale occurred in July 2014.

Criticism over Washington’s implementation of I-502 began when dispensaries quickly (some within hours of opening) ran out of marijuana to sell. And no supply surge was in sight in the weeks that followed. Media headlines such as “Weedless in Seattle” were widespread.

The state also was criticized by some for its high marijuana taxes, charging a 25-percent excise tax (charged at each stage of growing, processing and selling) and a 9.6-percent sales tax. (For comparison, Colorado charges a 15-percent excise tax, and a 2.9% retail and medical marijuana sales tax, plus a 10% retail marijuana special sales tax.)

 

WANORML Gets Slightly Stoopid

WASHINGTON: For years, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) has been working hard to establish pot smokers as, well, normal.

So what’s the Washington chapter of the venerable organization doing sponsoring the ‘Slightly Stoopid’ tour?  Is this a smarter sponsorship than the appellation might suggest?  MJ Headline News asked Executive Director Kevin Oliver to explain, “WANORML is involved because of Slightly Stoopid’s advocacy as consumers themselves and their commitment to supporting NORML and the reform of marijuana laws and policies. Besides, it will be a fantastic night to celebrate the opening of Washington’s legal recreational marijuana retail stores.”

The reggae roots tour is part of the Marymoor Park Concerts presented by Swedish Medical Center Redmond. Slightly Stoopid will perform with Stephen “RAGGA” Marley, G. Love & Special Sauce, Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 – 5:30PM

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ce-uBRMPBrs?list=PLowmQd8VEiQciNRMoA3BGHU9qf9La8rKp]