OmniCannabis II: The amending

by Bailey Hirschburg

This is a follow up to an earlier story reported by MJNewsNetwork: OMNICANNABIS: The WA State Senate Made Behemoth Pot Legislation, And It May Be Too Big To Fail

In the end, my observation in the first omnicannabis article was omniscient, “in rushing to remove the band-aid from this wound, Washington Senators sacrificed transparency and quality for quantity and speed. ” And this is just what happened.

Don’t get me wrong, SB 5131, the omnicannabis bill currently awaiting the signature of Governor Jay Inslee, has some good, bad, and ugly in it. If he doesn’t sign or veto it by May 16th it becomes law.

Gov. Jay Inslee can also veto specific sections, but there’s been no word on what, if any, parts he opposes. In a bill containing consulting contracts & financial disclosures, seed/clone sales to patients by producers, tribal and port notification, Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) staff immunity, an organic-equivalent certification for products, gifting/sharing of cannabis, hemp and recreational regulations, required personal cultivation study, and advertising restrictions, there is a lot Inslee could put on the chopping block. But the bill is too big to fail; a veto will create more problems for the already extended legislative session.

With dramatic amendments on the floor of the state house banning marijuana retailer billboards in 2018, expanding a grace period for inactive licenses, and adding language for licensing and rules for industrial hemp use in marijuana products or for consumption, 5131 was more divisive than its unanimous adoption in the state senate. The billboard amendment, sponsored by Rep. Joyce McDonald, passed narrowly. The senate then decided to take the bill to a conference committee where three senators and three representatives created a final compromise amendment for their chambers to vote on.

The compromise removed McDonald’s billboard ban amendment, and added a report on personal cannabis cultivation by the LCB to the legislature by the end of the year, focusing on the policies compliance with the federal Cole memo on marijuana legalization.

Back to my, “sacrificed transparency and quality for quantity and speed” comment. Between house amendments and the conference committee, a loophole emerged in cannabis seed/clone sale language. One sentence saying patients registered in the state database could buy both seeds/clones, and the following sentence saying qualifying (but unregistered) patients could buy seeds.

Cannabis patient/VIPER PAC lobbyist John Novak brought the discrepancy to Sen. Ann Rivers’ staffs attention, who promptly submitted a bill in the special session, SB 5933, making sure authorized patients cannot buy seeds. The bill says it’s “necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, or safety, or support of the state government and its existing public institutions,” how this topic meets any definition of that is unclear.

LCB staffer James Paribello testified that the board could likely set rules with or without 5933’s passage. Does this mean banning unregistered patients buying seeds through a rules process, or adapting those rules to allow both registered and unregister to buy seeds?

In my first article I pointed to River’s description of 5131 being like the senate removing a band aide all at once. SB 5933 is essentially picking at the scab. I told the Senate Healthcare committee (and Sen. Rivers) just that during 5933’s public hearing, urging them not to pass this restrictive effort to coerce participation in a database patients aren’t interested in, and empower black market for seed sale.

The committee moved promptly on 5933 from public hearing to executive session (usually they’re separate to collect further testimony or address questions) and voted to pass it, but not without a strong dissent from Senate Majority Whip Maureen Walsh, who openly questioned the necessity of the bill. Walsh, and Sen. Steve O’Ban voted against it, with Sen. Barbara Bailey voting without recommendation, a type of abstention.

Whatever Gov. Inslee’s decision, SB 5131 represents a turning point in Washington marijuana laws. It has a broad scope, compromises from most players, and defies a simple characterization as being a good or bad bill. Its just like any other issues in that way. But aside from 5131’s components, it’s size is a cautionary tale for those who hope to make good laws on the fly or en masse.

They say laws are like sausages because the public doesn’t want to watch them made. That may be, but also like sausages, bite off too much and you’ll likely to choke.

You can read the bill as delivered to Gov. Inslee here:

Questions, Answers About North Dakota And Medical Marijuana

By Blake Nicholson, Associated Press

NORTH DAKOTA: With the pending signature of Gov. Doug Burgum, medical marijuana will become legal in North Dakota. Here’s a look at what’s next:

WHEN WILL IT BE AVAILABLE?

Within a year, according to state health officials who will regulate the system.

The health department expects five of every 1,000 North Dakotas to use medical marijuana, according to Deputy State Health Officer Arvy Smith. That’s based on the experience in Delaware, which uses a system similar to what North Dakota plans.

Kenan Bullinger, who directs North Dakota’s program, expects use to steadily rise. Again, that’s based on Delaware, where registered patient counts have risen from fewer than 50 the first year to more than 1,400 last year.

Neighboring Minnesota had plenty of growing pains with the medical marijuana program it approved in 2014. But Smith said Minnesota’s program is much more restrictive and not comparable. She said North Dakota will still look to Minnesota for expertise on processes and other issues.

WHO CAN USE IT?

People including minors with “debilitating medical conditions” can apply to the Health Department for a registry card that costs $50 per year. A doctor or nurse practitioner must authorize a hopeful patient. Cards can be revoked for misuse, and unsuccessful applicants have to wait a year to reapply.

State law lists 17 qualifying medical conditions, along with terminal illnesses. The Health Department will study adding others, but Fargo medical marijuana advocate Rilie Ray Morgan said he thinks the list is fairly comprehensive. Morgan headed last year’s initiative campaign that culminated with voters approving the drug.

WHAT KINDS OF POT CAN PEOPLE USE?

Capsules; a topical product for the skin or hair; a tincture solution; and a patch. Smoking it? Only if a doctor or nurse practitioner recommends that method.

Users also must follow various rules, such as not doing so in certain public places and not subjecting children to smoke or vapors.

Employers don’t have to allow medical marijuana in the workplace, and care facilities such as nursing homes can reasonably restrict its use.

WHERE DO I GET IT?

The Health Department plans to register two “compassion centers” to make medical marijuana and eight more centers to dispense it. There are numerous application criteria, including security measures, and big fees — $110,000 for a two-year certificate for manufacturing operations, and $90,000 for dispensaries. They’re subject to random inspections by Health Department staff.

Center “agents” — a catch-all term for center officials including owners, employees and investors — must have a drug-free criminal record, pay a $200 fee and undergo a background check.

Patients or their caregivers have to get the drug through a direct transaction, Bullinger said. That means it can be obtained at a dispensary, or a dispensary might set up its own direct delivery program, but it cannot be gotten through the mail or a third-party delivery company such as UPS or FedEx. North Dakotans also must purchase from a North Dakota dispensary — they can’t buy it in another state and bring it home.

CAN I HELP SOMEONE ELSE GET IT?

If you’re 21, if you have a drug-free criminal record, if you’ve applied to be a designated caregiver for a registered patient, if you’ve paid a $50 annual fee and if you’ve passed a criminal background check — then yes, you can.

HOW MUCH CAN I BUY?

No more than 2 1/2 ounces of dried leaves or flowers every 30 days, with no more than 3 ounces in possession at any one time. Users can’t have medical marijuana products with more than 2,000 milligrams of the intoxicant THC in a 30-day period.

Pediatric medical marijuana is limited to a maximum THC concentration of 6 percent.

Advocates question why lawmakers, not doctors, are regulating amounts.

Beth Collins, a lobbyist for the medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access, said some patients will need more amounts of THC than others.

Smith and Bullinger said officials looked at limits in other states and consulted with the state crime lab on acceptable limits.

WHAT WILL IT COST?

Whatever the market says. The state won’t regulate pricing.

People can’t grow their own, either. That’s aimed at preventing medical marijuana from being used illegally, Smith said, but advocates say it bars patients from a potentially cheaper supply of the drug.

“I’m afraid of what medical cannabis is going to cost with the current program,” Morgan said.

In Minnesota, patient count hasn’t met projections, leading to losses for the state’s two manufacturers and exacerbating high prescription costs.

North Dakota law doesn’t require private insurers or government medical assistance programs to pay for medical marijuana.

HOW DO I KNOW IT’S SAFE?

It must be tested by the manufacturer or a certified laboratory for contaminants including pesticides and molds and to ensure THC levels are accurately labeled. The medical marijuana centers have to pay the testing costs.

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Follow Blake Nicholson on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/NicholsonBlake

California Campaign Watchdog Fines Legal Marijuana Opponents

By Associated Press

CALIFORNIA: California’s campaign watchdog said Monday that it is proposing fines of nearly $10,000 against opponents of the state’s new recreational marijuana law for violations last year.

The Fair Political Practices Commission announced the actions against two campaign committees that unsuccessfully fought Proposition 64. About 57 percent of voters approved legalizing recreational pot in November.

The first state ballot measure committee, Public and Mental Health Advocates Against 64, agreed to a $3,500 fine for being slow to change its advertising disclosures to publicly identify nonprofit SAM Action Inc. as a donor that contributed more than $50,000.

SAM Action’s contributions reached $64,150 in late June, but weren’t properly disclosed until the watchdog commission’s staff complained about two weeks before the election. By that time the committee had already posted billboards and aired internet radio advertising in English and television ads in Spanish.

The commission’s staff said there was no evidence the committee attempted to conceal SAM Action’s involvement.

The second group, A Committee Against Proposition 64 with Help from Citizens, agreed to pay $6,000 for several violations including being late in filing a Top 10 list of contributors after it raised $1 million.

The commission said the nonprofit committee’s staff was unfamiliar with California’s campaign laws when it failed to report receiving $1,364,000 in donations from a trust fund set up by Pennsylvania activist Juliet F. Schauer, a retired art professor.

The fines will be considered by commissioners on April 20.

“They come in and they threaten you with big fines or you can settle for a little one. It’s in the rearview mirror,” said Wayne Johnson, a consultant with the No on 64 campaign.

 

Trees And Marijuana Lead Salem City Council Agenda

OREGON: Trees and commercial marijuana production top the agenda for the Monday, Sept. 28, Salem City Council meeting.

There will be a first reading of Ordinance Bill 22-15, which would amend city code to restrict the commercial production of recreational marijuana to indoor production sites, or outdoor sites within exclusive farm use zone.  The council decide whether to refer the ordinance to the planning commission for a hearing and recommendation.

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission will be issuing licenses for commercial producers of recreational marijuana in 2016. The proposed amendment would not affect medical marijuana grow sites, or restrict state law allowing individuals to grow up to four marijuana plants on their property for recreational purposes.

Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles Leaving State House Aims For King County Council

WASHINGTON: Washington State Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles, a long-time backer of marijuana legal reform, will not seek re-election as a democratic State Senator in the next election, choosing instead to set her sites on a District 4 Seat on the King County Council.

Cannabis Basics' CEO Ah Warner hosted a fundraiser for Democratic Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles, a long-time marijuana reform advocate

Cannabis Basics’ CEO Ah Warner hosted a fundraiser for Democratic Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles, a long-time marijuana reform advocate

The veteran politician, named “Advocate of the Year” at this year’s Hempfest, is busy raising money for her campaign, appearing at fundraisers this month hosted by prominent cannabis industry leaders, including travel journalist and national NORML Board member Rick Steves and Ah Warner, CEO of Cannabis Basics.

Thurs. Sept 24 6-9PM, Sorrento Hotel

Thurs. Sept 24 6-9PM, Sorrento Hotel

She will also be appearing with 4 other prominent Washington women politicians — Kent City’s Gwen Allen-Carston; Spokane’s Karen Stratton; Cat Jeter Pierce County;and Heather Holderich, Firecrest City — at the “Power to Influence,” a women-only cannabis industry event presented by the Marijuana Business Association’s Women’s Alliance, and sponsored by a power trio of leading women-run cannabis brands: Washington Bud Company, Eden Labs, and NWMJLaw.

Jeanne Kohl-Welles is running for King County Council

Jeanne Kohl-Welles is running for King County Council

MJNewsNetwork’s TwiceBakedinWA attended Ah Warner’s industry reception on Tuesday, September 22nd, and had a chance to ask Ms. Kohl-Welles about the future of legal cannabis legislation, how Washington’s new marijuana laws turn underage pot smokers into felons, and why the Democrat was running for King County Council.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kb7HiM8-SUw&w=560&h=315]

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c31sz3vIA8A&w=560&h=315]

 

Speakers: End Of Marijuana Prohibition A Matter Of Time

OREGON: U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer says the end is in sight for a national prohibition on marijuana that has lasted eight decades.

A retired California judge who was the Libertarian Party’s vice presidential nominee in 2012 thinks the end could come within the next two years.

Blumenauer, an Oregon Democrat, and Judge Jim Gray offered their outlooks in separate appearances Saturday and Sunday at the Oregon Medical Marijuana Business Conference at the Portland Hilton.

Blumenauer, who spoke Sept. 13, said he has already made a public bet broadcast in New Hampshire, which holds the nation’s first presidential primary. “In five years, we will have turned a corner. We will be treating marijuana as we do alcohol,” Blumenauer says. “States will do what they want, and the federal government will get out of the way.”

 

Chris Christie To Legal Marijuana Smokers: Enjoy It While You Can Because He’ll Enforce Federal Ban

NEW JERSEY: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is attracting attention to his struggling presidential campaign by making it clear he doesn’t want to recognize state laws legalizing recreational marijuana.

In town hall meetings in New Hampshire and an appearance on Fox News this week, Christie said that if elected, he intends to overturn state marijuana legalization laws, which have been passed in Oregon, Washington, Colorado and Alaska.

“If you’re getting high in Colorado today, enjoy it until Jan. 17 of 2017,” Christie told an audience in Newport, N.H., on Tuesday, “because I will enforce the federal laws against marijuana as president of the United States.”

Legalized Marijuana Would Be Eliminated Under A Christie Presidency

NEW JERSEY: Gov. Chris Christie vowed Sunday to eliminate legalized marijuana in states like Colorado and Washington if he’s elected president.

The governor, speaking on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” said his administration would use federal rules that outlaw marijuana to clamp down on states that legalized recreational pot use.

“Yes sir,” Christie told host John Dickerson when asked whether he’d go after Colorado and Washington.

“If you were president would you return the federal prosecutions in the states of Colorado, Washington states?” Dickerson asked.

“Yes,” Christie said.

The Secrets Behind The Midterms

There’s a hidden history to the nasty midterm election campaign that will, mercifully, end on Nov. 4. What’s not being widely talked about is as important as what’s in the news.
Under appreciated fact No. 1: The number of Democratic seats that are not in play this year.In planning their effort to take control of the Senate, Republicans shrewdly launched challenges to Democrats in states that would not automatically be on a GOP target list. “Broadening the map” is wise when you’re in a strong position.

Two of the states on that extended list, Colorado and Iowa, have paid off for Republicans. It’s still far from certain that they will defeat Sen. Mark Udall in Colorado or Rep. Bruce Braley in Iowa, who is trying to hold retiring senator Tom Harkin’s seat. Republicans have a clear shot at both, and this has strengthened their chances of taking the majority.

Just as striking is how many Democrats seem to have nailed down races the Republicans had once hoped to make competitive. This has narrowed the GOP’s path to a majority. Among them: Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota, Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Rep. Gary Peters of Michigan, who is likely to retain Sen. Carl Levin’s seat. Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia is also polling well, though he was always favored against former Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire is in a tougher race with former Massachusetts senator Scott Brown, but she has led most of the way.

How Will Presidential Politics Affect 2016 Push For Pot Legalization?

Advocates expect another major push for marijuana legalization in 2016, a strategy that is likely to force presidential candidates to take a position on the drug. Some wonder if their efforts will be tripped up if Hillary Clinton turns out to be the Democratic nominee.

CNN’s Dan Merica takes a look at presidential politics and the campaign to legalize marijuana. In her public comments on the pot, Clinton has taken a “wait and see” approach to recreational pot.

“She is so politically pragmatic,” said Allen St. Pierre, the executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, told Merica. “If she has to find herself running against a conservative Republican in 2016, I am fearful, from my own view here, that she is going to tack more to the middle. And the middle in this issue tends to tack more to the conservative side.”