King County Council Chair: Council’s Vote Continues Inequitable Location Of Marijuana Facilities

WASHINGTON:  Metropolitan King County Council Chair Joe McDermott, joined by Council member Larry Gossett, released this statement after the passage of legislation limiting the production, processing and retail of marijuana in the unincorporated areas of King County:

“The legislation will further concentrate retail marijuana stores in low income and working class neighborhoods, and, more often than not, minority neighborhoods.“Reducing the land area where marijuana can be grown and processed coupled with no guaranteed expansion of retail stores will also result in limited access across our county.

“This is particularly concerning for our residents who use medical marijuana to treat numerous ailments like seizures, arthritis and Crohn’s Disease.“For these reasons, we voted against the legislation.

“Moving forward, the County must look for ways to ensure adequate access to recreational and medical marijuana. We must also address any unintended consequences this legislation may create.

“King County residents voted for a workable, legal marijuana system. We must do the work to make this happen.”

Detroit Council May Crack Down On Booming Pot Industry

MICHIGAN: The Detroit City Council is expected take up a second ordinance to regulate the city’s booming medical marijuana industry on Tuesday, although final approval of the measure may not come until January.

The council’s planning and economic development committee on Thursday approved the latest version of ordinances designating where dispensaries can locate. Without those regulations, more than 150 unlicensed and unregulated dispensaries have opened up across the city, raising deep concerns among some residents.

The restrictions would require that dispensaries not be located within 1,000 feet of schools, churches, caregiver centers and places such as liquor stores.

Boulder To Take New Look At Marijuana Regulations

COLORADO: Representatives of the marijuana industry, supported by Boulder City Councilman Macon Cowles, want the city to reconsider its approach to marijuana regulation and come in line with the rest of the state, but top city officials say the more stringent approach has resulted in a safer city while still allowing businesses to be competitive.

Cowles said the city’s regulations may have made sense when legal marijuana first exploded in 2009 and the industry included shady actors with criminal records, but the remaining 77 licensed businesses have shown themselves able and willing to follow exacting rules and shouldn’t have to live with a “zero tolerance” policy for any rule violation and city staff who have the discretion to revoke a license without an administrative review.

“Most people in the industry feel like it isn’t working that well,” Cowles said. “They feel like they’re hanging from a thread that could be cut at any time. Our ordinance says that having a marijuana business is not a property right. It’s a privilege. We say there’s zero tolerance and no administrative review. That makes someone feel pretty insecure, and that’s not fair.”

Guest: Cities And Counties Have A Right To Ban The Sale Of Marijuana

WASHINGTON: Marijuana legalization under Initiative 502 is a bold experiment. As attorney general, I am defending that state law rigorously. But one question threatens to unravel marijuana legalization in Washington state and, potentially, across the country: Can cities and counties ban the sale of marijuana within their local jurisdiction?

When asked to answer that important question, I reviewed the law carefully and concluded that, yes, they may. Local governments have broad authority to pass their own laws unless a state law explicitly says they can’t. Simply put, the language of I-502 does not prohibit local bans. The drafters could have included such a provision, but they did not. Many marijuana advocates were disappointed in this conclusion, but my job is to go where the law takes me, whatever the outcome.

Some I-502 supporters claim that my legal conclusion undermines marijuana legalization. In fact, while my opinion is grounded solely on an objective reading of the law, it also protects I-502.

Here’s how: Although I-502 legalized marijuana under state law, it did not change federal law. The United States still bans marijuana, and federal officials could prosecute Washington residents even if they are following I-502. Some cities and counties, in defending their bans on marijuana sales, have already argued in court that federal law completely invalidates (or “pre-empts”) I-502.

Small Town In Washington Expects To Open Its Own Legal Cannabis Store By Month’s End

WASHINGTON: The City of North Bonneville is only weeks away from securing a license to open Washington’s first municipally controlled and operated recreational marijuana store, which local leaders say could serve as a model to be adopted by cities across the state.

The bucolic community of some 1,000 residents is located along the Columbia River amid a host of lakes, streams, hiking trails, panoramic vistas and within an hour’s drive of Mount Hood and year-round skiing. North Bonneville, once fed by a vibrant timber industry now in steep decline, now banks on tourism as a major economic engine, local leaders say. The city also is only some 45 miles northeast of the attractions of a big city — Portland, Oregon, a state that, like Washington, recently legalized the production and sale of recreational marijuana.

But it is not tourism, at least at this point, that is the driving force behind North Bonneville’s decision to get into the legal marijuana business. The primary reason for that choice, according to North Bonneville Mayor Don Stevens, is to assure the city takes control of its own destiny in the inevitable evolution of a legal cannabis market that holds great promise but still remains marked by citizen concerns and pockets of hard-core opposition to the very idea of legal weed.

“I view [North Bonneville’s approach} as the city being welcoming to the whole idea of recreational marijuana legalization and trying to ensure it’s done as cleanly and professionally and with as much of an eye on the public health and welfare as possible,” Stevens said. “The financial aspects of it are certainly part of the equation, but they weren’t the primary factor.”

Cities Argue For A Bigger Share Of Pot Tax Revenue

WASHINGTON: When voters in four U.S. states — Colorado, Washington, Alaska and Oregon — approved recreational marijuana sales, part of the appeal was the promise of a new revenue source to buoy cash-strapped cities and states.

But tensions are growing in those four states over how the tax rewards from pot sales should be divided. Local governments want to get what they say is their share of pot tax revenues.

Under Oregon‘s new pot law, cities get 10 percent of the tax revenues. Even though the state’s retail industry doesn’t start until next year, city leaders are already saying their share is not nearly enough.

“Somebody else thought they knew how much we were going to need,” says Scott Winkels, lobbyist with the League of Oregon Cities.

Winkels argues that if pot becomes more available, more people will use it and inevitably do something stupid — and cities will bear the costs, not the state.

 

Local Opposition to Washington’s Legal Marijuana Businesses Is a Taxing Issue For the Fledgling Industry

WASHINGTON: The great experiment in the state of Washington to legalize the sale of marijuana through a regulated and taxed market has hit a hitch at the local level that threatens to slow progress to a snail’s pace, even as more and more marijuana businesses obtain the state licensing needed to open their doors.

Through early November, Washington’s cannabis market, state records show, included some 63 retailers, 239 producers and 197 processors — all issued the required state-level licenses to begin doing business in the state. But the battle ahead for many of them — and others in the pipeline — to actually open their doors for business is far from over.

The pushback is coming at the city level, in part from small but well-organized citizen groups, who essentially don’t want marijuana businesses to open in their neighborhoods. These groups are putting heat on local politicians to ban pot businesses, and they are having success, even in areas that voted overwhelmingly for legalizing marijuana.

Fife Case Could Destroy Marijuana Legalization Effort In Washington, says AG

WASHINGTON: The city of Fife’s legal efforts to restrict marijuana sales could destroy marijuana legalization efforts in Washington state.

That’s according to the Washington state Attorney General’s office, which is battling the city in court and siding with state voters who approved Initiative 502, legalizing marijuana sales in the state.

Washington AG Bob Ferguson said that in the case of MMC, LC v. Fife – where two pot retailers have challenged the city’s marijuana retail ban – he has filed a brief opposing Fife’s efforts to prevent a marijuana shop from opening in the city.

There are two issues in the case that could impact the future of Washington state’s marijuana law. The first is whether cities and towns can ban the sale of the drug. The second is whether federal law trumps state law when it comes to recreational marijuana. Fife claims federal laws trump state laws in the case.

Issaquah WA City Council Approves Recreational Marijuana

WASHINGTON: With the moratorium on recreational marijuana in Issaquah expiring July 7, the Issaquah City Council voted 5-2 Monday night to allow the one retail outlet the city can legally have. Two applications have been received for producer/processors licenses that can be issued in the city. The moratorium will be removed June 16 when the ordinance is recorded.

It’s been one year and seven months since Washington state voters approved I-502, legalizing recreational marijuana for adult use. The council’s Land and Shore Committee has discussed marijuana regulations at no less than five meetings, and has called for community input a number of times, with little feedback.

The one retail establishment will be allowed in a commercial zone, with the exception of the central business district. Producer/processors are allowed only in areas zoned intensive commercial. Security systems and cameras are required at all facilities, and any recreational marijuana business is subject to inspections. Home business, or home grows are not allowed.

Councilmembers Nina Milligan and Eileen Barber voted against the bill.

 

 

School Board Tells Gig Harbor WA It Does Not Want Retail Marijuana

WASHINGTON:  The Peninsula School District Board of Directors will present an official resolution to the Gig Harbor City Council, asking the council to consider additional restrictions, including an outright ban, on retail marijuana in city limits.

The board approved the official language of the resolution unanimously. A six-month moratorium on retail marijuana was passed by the city council April 14. The city council will hold a public hearing on the moratorium at its June 9 meeting.

A public records request by the Gateway reveals that six feedback emails were sent regarding the resolution. All six emails opposed passage of the resolution, many of them mentioning that Initiative 502 passed 54 percent to 45 percent in Gig Harbor.

Board President Harlan Gallinger claims that the of the six emails, only one comes directly from a community member. The other five are linked to business interests and a former student, under the legal age limit for retail marijuana.

“The argument here is not about marijuana,” one letter reads. “It’s about the overreach of authority, the overrule of the majority of the public and the setting of a very dangerous precedent that will lead us down a very slippery slope.”