I-502 implementation

Washington: Woman-Owned Marijuana Company Is Environmentally Friendly

SusieGressVashonVelvet[Ganjapreneur]

Ganjapreneur, an online marijuana news publication and business resource, has published the latest interview in its ongoing series of podcasts that feature marijuana entrepreneurs discussing their experiences in the industry. In this week's podcast, Ganjapreneur host Shango Los interviews cannabis entrepreneur Susie Gress.

Washington state’s legal cannabis market just celebrated its first anniversary. While there has been much debate about the merits and faults of I-502 (the initiative which created the state’s legal market), many recreational growers are making names for themselves in the market.

Gress is the founder of Vashon Velvet, a licensed recreational cannabis grow operation that is woman-owned and operated and emphasizes environmentally friendly growing techniques. Susie shared her experience as one of Washington state's recreational marijuana pioneers, offering insight into her company's cannabis branding, grow methods, and what it's like having a family enterprise in the marijuana business.

Vashon Velvet's grow facility is located on Vashon Island, so the company naturally must be ever-conscious of the amount of cost and resources going into their operation. "We are all hydro, which we find is not only the easiest way to grow but uses a lot less water than you would think," she explained.

Washington: Purple Haze Pot Shop Slapped With 2nd Citation For Underage Sales

PurpleHazeKissTheSkyWith(logo)

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Purple Haze, a recreational marijuana store in Everett, Washington, has become the only outlet in the state to be caught twice selling cannabis to minors, ironically calling to mind one of the themes of the 2012 I-502 legalization campaign, which was "illegal pot dealers don't ask for I.D."

Bonnie Arnestad, who owned two homes next door to the shop, wanted city leaders to keep it out, and now she feels totally vindicated, reports Joel Moreno at KOMO News. Gee, thanks, Purple Haze, for confirming all the worst stereotypes about marijuana, with the added insult of having done that under the I-502 banner.

Remember, owners of these recreational pot shops were the movers and shakers who convinced the Washington Legislature this past spring to pass SB 5052, which for all practical purposes, shuts down safe access through medical marijuana dispensaries in the state. Now that they've taken out the competition, do they feel comfortable doing the same things they were accusing the medical dispensaries of doing -- but which they never proved?

"I think they should have lost their license after the first one because that was less than six months from their opening," Arnestead said.

Washington: 19 of 157 Recreational Marijuana Stores Sell To Minors

WashingtonStateMarijuana

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

In the first complete round of compliance checks of retail marijuana retail stores, 19 Washington recreational retail marijuana businesses sold marijuana to an underage investigative aide. Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB) enforcement officers, working with underage investigative aides, checked each retail marijuana business for sales of marijuana to minors.

The checks essentially represent an 88 percent no-sales-to-minors compliance rate. Since the compliance checks were publicly announced, the shops which got caught selling to minors are pretty much the picture of bumbling ineptitude.

“Our goal is 100 percent compliance,” said WSLB Board Chair Jane Rushford. “While perfect compliance is always a challenging goal, it is clearly in everyone’s interest that our licensees be vigilant about preventing underage sales.”

The 19 businesses will be cited for selling marijuana to minors. The individuals who sold the marijuana will be referred to their respective prosecuting attorney’s office for potential criminal prosecution.

The WSLCB and local authorities regularly conduct compliance checks of area businesses licensed to sell alcohol and marijuana. The checks, conducted at every open marijuana retailer across the state (157 locations) from mid-May until the end of June, were the first marijuana compliance checks.

Washington: Rowdy News Conference Announces Closure Of Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

SatterbergPressConferenceMMJ[TimCliffordWestSeattleHerald]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg and Sheriff John Urquhart must have envisioned quite a different news conference than the one which actually happened Wednesday morning, when they announced the closure of medical marijuana dispensaries operating in King County.

The medicinal cannabis dispensaries, which in some cases after years of smooth operation have now been suddenly defined as "unlicensed" in a money grab by I-502 recreational marijuana store operator, represent the only safe and affordable access to cannabinoid medicines for many limited mobility and low income patients in King County.

The dispensaries have to shut down in 30 days, if they don't have a license -- oh, and did we mention that there aren't any licenses available?

Satterberg and Urquhart -- who maybe expected to be hailed as heroes at their news conference -- were joined by Russ Hauge of the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB), at the Sheriff's Office White Center Storefront. But that's not what happened, reports Gwen Davis at the West Seattle Herald.

They were greeted by a vocally hostile crowd of about 30, with hecklers screaming at the prosecuting attorney and the sheriff as they were trying to give their prepared speeches, which were rendered mostly inaudible.

"You are horrible people!" one woman yelled at Satterberg.

Washington: One-Year Status Report On Marijuana Legalization

MarijuanaJars[DPA]

New Report Finds Major Fiscal Benefits, Decrease in Violent Crime, No Increase in Youth Marijuana Use or Traffic Fatalities – And Massive Drop in Marijuana Arrests

Popular Support for Marijuana Legalization Remains Strong in Washington; Only Dark Cloud Remains Uncertain Fate of Medical Marijuana

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

As several states consider marijuana legalization initiatives, all eyes are on the initial outcomes of Washington’s marijuana law. In 2012, Washington and Colorado became the first two states to pass laws taxing and regulating marijuana.

Wednesday will mark the one-year anniversary of retail marijuana sales in Washington. Adult possession of marijuana became legal on December 6, 2012, 30 days after the passage of I-502, the voter-approved initiative legalizing marijuana for adults 21 and older. A year-and-a-half later, the first retail marijuana store opened its doors, on July 8, 2014.

A new report by the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) highlights data on public safety, youth marijuana use, and the economy before and after passage of I-502. Since adult possession of marijuana became legal 18 months ago, the state has benefitted from a dramatic decrease in marijuana arrests and convictions, as well as increased tax revenues.

Washington: Governor Signs Bill Reducing Marijuana Taxes, Loosens Pot Zoning

I-502

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A bill simplifying the tax scheme for marijuana was signed into law by Washington Governor Jay Inslee on Tuesday. HB 2136, which the Legislature approved last week, also significantly loosens the rules on buffer zones that have kept recreational I-502 marijuana shops away from many dense commercial areas.

As originally approved by voters, I-502 taxed recreational marijuana at three tiers: producers (growers), processors (curing), and retail. Under the new scheme, the three-level tax system has been collapsed into one 37 percent point-of sale tax, reports Bryan Cohen at Capitol Hill Seattle. According to Ian Eisenberg, proprietor of Capitol Hill recreational marijuana shop Uncle Ike's, his customers won't see much of a change in pricing due at 37 percent tax.

I-502 originally stated recreational marijuana stores can't be located within 1,000 feet of parks, schools, and other public gathering places. Localities could soon have the power to bring that buffer down to 100 feet under HB 2136

The 1,000-foot buffer greatly restricted permitted locations for marijuana retail; it was written as an attempt to placate federal officials, who have released guidelines under which the Obama Administration won't go after state-legal pot shops, including just such a buffer zone. There are specific penalties for selling marijuana within 1,000 feet of schools under federal sentencing guidelines.

Washington: Seattle Mayor Plans Crackdown On Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

EdMurraySeattleMayor[TheSeattleTimes]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Apparently not content to wait for the scheduled extinction date of medical marijuana dispensaries in Washington -- set for July 1, 2016 -- Seattle Mayor Ed Murray on Tuesday proposed legislation that could shut down dozens of dispensaries in the city.

Mayor Murray's plan would create a new business license specifically for medical marijuana dispensaries and create enforcement priorities for unlicensed shops, reports Evan Bush at The Seattle Times.

The plan follows the Washington Legislature's attempts to "fold" medical marijuana into the state's recreational cannabis system established under I-502 and SB 5052. The latter law, approved last month, calls for the Washington State Liquor Control Board (which will be renamed the Liquor and Cannabis Board) to "assess the merit" of medical marijuana dispensaries are license those which qualify by July 2016.

The LCB still hasn't come up with the rules for grading medical marijuana dispensaries, and many observers believe the ultimate goal isn't to license the businesses anyway, but rather to shut almost all of them down. It's not yet clear how many additional licenses Seattle might get, or which businesses could get those licenses.

Washington: Driver Gets 6 Months For Crash That Likely Had Nothing To Do With Marijuana

MarijuanaDUI

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

During the campaign leading up to the passage of marijuana legalization Initiative 502 in Washington state in 2012, many activists -- this writer included -- expressed grave concerns about the effect of 502's unscientific, arbitrary per-se cutoff point of 5 nanograms per milliliter as a "bright line" beyond which motorists are considered too high to drive. On Tuesday, a Vancouver, Washington marijuana user got a six-month jail sentence, followed by five years of probation, in a case that illustrates exactly why we were worried.

You see, the new definition of stoned driving established by I-502 has nothing to do with impairment, unlike the old law. Before, law enforcement had to prove actual impairment if they wanted to convict motorists of driving under the influence of marijuana, but now, all they need is a test showing marijuana metabolites above 5 ng/ml in the driver's blood. Impairment doesn't even matter anymore in a "driving under the influence" case; we've passed through the looking glass.

Washington: Save Medical Marijuana -- You Can Now Get R76 NO Signature Sheets At Any FedEx

R76NO.orgVolunteerYourTime,Talent,andDonateToday!

Medical marijuana dispensaries are slated for extinction in Washington state, thanks to the passage of SB 5052 by the Legislature. But the R76 NO campaign would head off 5052 at the pass, essentially nullifying the law through the voter referendum process.

The R76 NO campaign, representing as it does a way out of the death sentence imposed upon the medical marijuana community in Washington as we've known it for the past 17 years, is gaining a lot of support statewide, but one recurring question has been where supporters can get signature sheets so that they can help the referendum qualify for the November ballot. Due to the untiring efforts of Washington activist Don Skakie, medical marijuana supporters can now go to any full service FedEx location in the state and get printed, double-sided, 11x17 Referendum 76 signature sheets for just 12 cents each.

According to Skakie, all you have to do is ask for File Retrieval Code 2EE4248 under Account Discount #0589281101 to print the signature sheets. "We have been given permission to use this account from the Georgetown Cultural Arts Center," Skakie said. "YOU MUST PAY FOR THESE COPIES, but the activity will benefit the Center by helping them meet their annual minimum purchases to keep their account open at these prices. Go and do great things!"

Washington: R76 NO Would Say NO To Ending Medical Cannabis Dispensaries

WashingtonMedicalCannabis[MarijuanaGrowersHeadquarters]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

According to Paul Stanford, who heads up the Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp (CRRH) and The Hemp and Cannabis Foundation (THCF Clinics, which has authorized more patients in Washington than anybody else), which owns Hemp News, if 500 medical marijuana dispensaries in Washington state contributed $1,000 apiece, a voter initiative or referendum could qualify for the ballot, potentially saving medical cannabis in the state.

According to Stanford, who has plenty of experience on the political scene, $500,000 is the minimum amount needed to gather enough signatures to qualify. Will Washington's medical marijuana community step up to the plate?

"It's a matter of survival," Stanford said. "The clock is ticking, and it's time for the leaders of Washington's medical marijuana community to step up and take action. CRRH supports the preservation of safe access for Washington state patients."

"We authorized about 35,000 patients last year in Washington State," Stanford said."History, we've helped about 100,000 patients in Washington State get their cards since 2003, when we started helping patients in Washington. We started in Oregon in 2001, and we had people coming to our clinics there saying 'We need a doctor in Washington.

"We want to uphold our responsibility to the patients of Washington," Stanford said. "We're going to have petitions in our offices for patients. We've pledged $1,000 to the campaign, and we're going to be donating more."

Washington: Gov. Inslee Signs Bill Eliminating Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

JayInsleeFrowns[GreenTechMedia]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Washington Governor Jay Inslee on Friday signed into law regulations which essentially eliminate medical marijuana dispensaries in the state, along with the medicinal cannabis system as it's been known there since voters approved it back in 1998.

Purportedly an "overhaul" measure to subject medicinal cannabis to the licensing, testing, inspection, and tax requirements of the recreational side, the bill's actual intent and effect is to get rid of the pesky medical marijuana community, which has consistently outperformed the recreational I-502 cannabis outlets with better product and lower prices.

Patients who have for years enjoyed the ability to visit medical marijuana dispensaries where the employees themselves were also facing medical challenges, and had bothered to inform themselves about medicinal applications of cannabis, will now be forced into the recreational market, where the focus isn't on medicine and in fact where I-502 store employees are forbidden by law from even mentioning the medical applications of marijuana.

Plant counts for patients, in one fell swoop, are being reduced from 15 to 6. Dried marijuana limits are similarly being slashed from 24 ounces to 3 ounces per patient. Ironically, the 15 plants/24 ounces limits were themselves compromises reached a few years ago when the best scientific studies available showed more appropriate limits would be 71 ounces and 99 plants.

Washington: Cannabis Testing Lab Founder Dr. Michelle Sexton Interviewed

DrMichelleSextonWithPullQuote[Ganjapreneur]

As marijuana legalization has spread to new states and regions, the regulatory framework of the industry has struggled to adapt. How to ensure product safety via scientific testing has been a popular debate, and some legal markets have mandated testing for cannabis producers and retailers.

Ganjapreneur, a cannabis industry publication focused on business news and culture, recently published an interview with Dr. Michelle Sexton of PhytaLab about her take on cannabis testing regulations.

Dr. Sexton founded PhytaLab in 2010, and she has also served as a consultant to the Washington State Liquor Control Board on the implementation of I-502, the state’s bill which led to the legalization of marijuana for recreational use. She is a member of the International Cannabinoid Research Society, the International Association for Cannabinoid Medicines, and the Society of Cannabis Clinicians, and she is also an avid surfer and rock climber.

In the interview, Sexton explains how the lack of federal recognition of legal cannabis markets has made scientific research very difficult. "Due to the federal status, crowd-sourced science has virtually replaced clinical research, being 'loosely' conducted without the usual controls or theoretical frameworks," Dr. Sexton said.

U.S.: Former N.M. Gov. Gary Johnson Calls WA State Pot Rules 'Worst-Case Scenario'

GaryJohnsonSmilingPointingLiveFree[EddieMoore-AlbuquerqueJournal]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Former two-term New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, now CEO of a marijuana company, on Sunday told an audience of cannabis industry representatives that voters, not politicians, are behind the legalization movement, and he called Washington state's troubled implementation of legalization Initiative 502 a "worst-case scenario."

Johnson, a vocal advocate of legalization and former Presidential candidate who plans to run again next year, gave the keynote speech at the Oregon Medical Marijuana Business Conference, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian. About 750 people attended the conference, according to organizers.

Johnson, CEO of Cannabis Sativa, a publicly traded company producing marijuana-infused products.

When it comes to Washington's botched implementation of flawed legalization Initiative 502, Johnson was very critical of the over-taxation of cannabis in that model.

"How are they going to regulate it and make it a legal product? They have screwed it up as bad as they possibly can," Johnson said. "They have taxed it to the level where if you are a prior user of marijuana, prior to it being legal in Washington, you are still consuming it on the black market because of how expensive it is. It's the worst-case scenario and they have it playing out in Washington state."

"Pay attention to how you are taxing it," Johnson said. "You are moving the entire industry from a black market.

Washington: Small Town Plans To Run Its Own Marijuana Store By Month's End

NorthBonnevilleWAMayorDonStevens[TheColumbian]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The City of North Bonneville, Washington, a community of about a thousand residents on the Columbia River, doesn't appear extraordinary at first glance, but it's unique in one way: It's about to become the first municipality in the state to run its own marijuana store.

The city is just weeks from getting a license to open the store, which local officials said could serve as a model for other cities across the state, reports Bill Conroy at The Narcosphere.

North Bonneville was founded on the timber industry, which is now in steep decline, so it counts on tourism as a major economic force. The city's just 45 miles northeast of Portland, Oregon, another state which recently legalized recreational cannabis.

But city leaders said tourism wasn't the driving force behind their decision to open a marijuana store. North Bonneville Mayor Don Stevens said the city wanted to seize control of its own destiny in the evolution of a legal cannabis market that holds great promise, even while pockets of hard-core opposition to pot continue to exist.

Washington: Bogus I-502 Deadline Letter Alarms Legal Marijuana Store Applicants

I-502LicenseeSolicitationLetter02-04-2015WSLCB

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A number of I-502 applicants who want to run legal marijuana businesses in the state of Washington have been alarmed by a solicitation from a company about an impending universal February deadline, according to a Wednesday morning email from the Washington State Liquor Control Board.

The letter warns of the supposed impending deadline for applicants to "get set up" and that the Liquor Control Board will "no longer wait for your plan to come together."

"We have money and a location and resources are are local honest hard working successful business people looking for like-minded people," the solicitation letter reads. "We are not brokers or big venture capitalists nor are we promising that anyone will make millions in this new industry."

"Those licenses that held out hoping to come up with a plan later may actually lose out and your license could now be worthless," the letter claimed. "The WSLCB will no longer wait for your plan to come together or moratoriums being lifted, they have goals and must achieve them."

"WSLCB expected you to have your plans which included funds and a location ready when you applied and their patience is wearing thin," the solicitation letter goes on (evidently someone is practicing their "Scolding a Stoner" skills).

"This has caused some alarm among applicants and led to calls to the Liquor Control Board," Wednesday morning's email from the WSLCB reads. "Those claims are not true."

Washington: Legal Pot Shortage Turns Into Legal Pot Glut

WorriedGuy

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Washington has a weed headache. Implementation of the state's weak, badly written marijuana legalization measure, Initiative 502, continues to be plagued with problems. When legal recreational cannabis shops opened last summer, there was a shortage of weed, and high prices. Now, six months later, there's a glut of weed, as growers are left sitting on hundreds of pounds of product -- but prices are still absurdly high at the 502 stores.

A big autumn harvest of outdoor cannabis from the eastern part of the state flooded the market, reports the Associated Press. That would normally mean plummeting prices at pot shops, but even as growers are worried about going belly up, pot shops continue to charge $23 to $25 a gram -- more than twice the going price either on the street or in medical marijuana dispensaries.

"It's an economic nightmare," said Andrew Seitz, general manager at Dutch Brothers Farms in Seattle.

Licensed growers had harvested 31,000 pounds of marijuana as of Thursday, according to state data, but Washington's few licensed pot shops had sold less than 20 percent of that. Many marijuana users in Washington, faced with ridiculously out-of-synch prices in state marijuana stores, have opted to stick with the less expensive pot they buy on the black market, or at medical marijuana dispensaries.

Washington: Lawmaker Proposes Removing Marijuana Flowers From Medical Dispensaries

AnnRivers(WAStateSenatorGOP-WAStateWire)

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

One Washington state Republican lawmaker is proposing that medical marijuana dispensaries in the state stop selling marijuana. Wait, what?

Yes, state Sen. Ann Rivers -- who really should talk to some actual medical marijuana patients about their needs -- is proposing that dispensaries stop selling smokable dried cannabis flowers, reports Sarah Aitchison at the Puget Sound Business Journal. Her bill would limit medical dispensaries to cannabis-infused edibles and concentrates.

Rivers seems to be trying to find a middle ground between the complete elimination of patient collective gardens and dispensaries proposed by her Democratic counterpart, Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles of Seattle, and continuing business as usual for the dispensaries, which are seen as competition by the recreational marijuana stores which have opened as I-502 is implemented.

"Recognizing the health concerns relating to smoking marijuana, the legislature intends to prohibit the sale of products that must be smoked at medical marijuana retail outlets," says a draft of the measure reports The Associated Press.

Washington: I-502 Author Urges Prosecuting, Shutting Down Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

AlisonHolcombLaughs

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The author of Washington state's anemic marijuana legalization law I-502 is defending and even urging prosecution of medical marijuana dispensaries in Seattle.

Criminal defense attorney Alison Holcomb of the ACLU of Washington, who wrote Initiative 502, wrote a December 11 email to Seattle officials about their plans to create new rules for medical marijuana in the city, reports Heidi Groover at The Stranger.

“If escalation of sanctions were deemed appropriate, the city has authority to prosecute repeat license offenses as gross misdemeanors, initiate civil asset seizure and forfeiture, or even refer cases for felony prosecution,” Holcomb wrote in the email.

Seattle is looking for ways to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries; Holcomb's words were part of a chain of emails exchanged among city council members, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray's staff, and others, including Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes, who seems just as weirdly intent on eliminating dispensaries as is Holcomb.

Holcomb, like Holmes, purportedly opposes the dispensaries because they aren't regulated -- but she also opposes regulating them. She argued against a new licensing plan the mayor's office has floated for dispensaries, hoping to leave the coup de grace -- complete elimination of the shops -- to the Legislature in the upcoming session.

Washington: Seattle City Attorney Wants To Shut Down Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

PeteHolmesSeattleCityAttorney

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes was a big supporter of Washington state's marijuana legalization measure, Initiative 502, all along. Now it seems Holmes is so gung-ho on 502, he wants to extinguish current medical marijuana dispensaries, which existed for years before recreational legalization was approved in 2012, and force medicinal cannabis patients through the state's expensive recreational pot stores.

Holmes in a policy memo on Monday urged the Washington Legislature to fold medical marijuana into the state's recreational system, reports Evan Bush at The Seattle Times. He also pushed Seattle city officials to crack down on medical marijuana dispensaries which he claims aren't following state law or city regulations.

"If you're a commercial (medical marijuana) operation lacking a 502 license, it's a felony operation. Period," Holmes said.

Holmes claimed some of the business aren't operating with proper permits, and that others have neglected to pay local business and occupation taxes. He said some of them opened after the Seattle City Council passed an intended moratorium on new dispensaries in the city.

The city attorney said he published the wide-ranging memo to clarify any confusion about medical marijuana laws. Holmes said he hopes his memo "reframes" the debate about medical marijuana.

Washington: Legal Marijuana Stores Having Trouble Matching Black Market Prices

WashingtonStateMarijuana

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Due to the onerous nature of Washington state's regulations on the legal marijuana industry, including an overbearing tax scheme, the legal marijuana stores which have opened as the badly written I-502 is implemented are reportedly having trouble turning a profit -- even at $30 a gram.

Despite brining in more than $440,000 in sales since July, Station 420 in Union Gap is still in the red financially, according to owner Adam Markus, reports Mike Fault at the Yakima Herald-Republic.

"We have yet to make a profit here," Markus said. "And there are a lot of other people who got into this just thinking they were going to be millionaires in a year, and now they're having a hard time."

Washington state had $15.6 million in marijuana sales in November, more than double the figures from August, and pot shop owners say prices have come down by as much as half since July as supplies have increased.

But then there's the pesky fact that the prices of legal weed are still roughly double to triple those on the black market. Consumers aren't morons, and if the "guy you know down the street" is selling righteous pot for $10 a gram (a typical price both on the street and in the medical marijuana community), who wants to pay $30 a gram for the "privilege" of buying the stuff in a legal store?

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