washington state

Washington: Black Market Dealers Are Loving This State's Brand Of Legalization

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Washington state voters in 2012 voted to legalize recreational marijuana; when the first retail store opened in 2012, many hailed it as a great success for cannabis law reform. Now law enforcement authorities are preparing to close hundreds of medical marijuana dispensaries across the state in just two weeks, in a move sure to please black market dealers.

What in the world is going on here? Why are MEDICAL dispensaries, of all things, targeted for closure, when patients actually need their cannabis for medicine instead of just wanting it to get high, like the recreational users? Well, boys and girls, that would be because the wealthy investors who bought I-502 recreational marijuana business licenses "bought" the law they wanted by applying generous campaign contributions to their favorite legislators down in Olympia.

When their competition, i.e., the mom-and-pop medical marijuana dispensaries, cleaned their clocks on both price and quality -- not to mention the sense of community on the medical side, especially in the farmers' markets, and the real expertise they offered when it comes to addressing symptoms with specific strains -- the recreational stores literally had the competition outlawed.

Washington: Marijuana and Athletics Coming To Seattle July 31 With The 420 Games

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When Jim McAlpine first came out with The 420 Games, many people were skeptical. “Most people would just laugh at me as I explained my idea,” McAlpine said. “The stigma runs deep and people immediately go to the propaganda ingrained in their brain that says marijuana and athletics don’t mix. Well, that’s exactly why I started The 420 Games, because I knew all of those people were wrong.”

It appears McAlpine may be onto something. As the games head strong into a second year, Newsweek, TIME, The Atlantic, Elite Daily, and sports publications such as Runner’s World have been paying attention.

The 420 Games is a series of 4.20 mile runs in different cities. Dubbed “Going the Extra Mile for Cannabis,” the event is 1.1 miles longer than a typical 5K.

The event series developed to de-stigmatize cannabis and those who use it, has signed on several professional athletes, Olympic gold medalists and others who are now endorsing “The Games.” Ricky Williams, Heisman Trophy winner and NFL standout is currently The 420 Games main spokesman.

Marijuana and Athletics: Coming out of the Closet

Despite a long history of persecution by way of public criticism, penalties and in some cases the pursuit of criminal charges, more athletes are refusing to keep their medical cannabis use a secret.

Washington: Willie Nelson Partners With Spokane Marijuana Grower/Processor

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A Spokane marijuana processor has partnered with country music legend and cannabis connoisseur Willie Nelson on his new company, Willie's Reserve.

Willie's Reserve is working with growers and processors in Washington and Colorado, including Growing Like A Weed, an I-502 cannabis producer/processor located in Spokane's Mountain Dome Winery building, to grow product to be packaged under the Willie's Reserve brand, reports Azaria Podplesky at Inlander.

"Willie and his family and a few close friends, developed the brand with emphasis on environmental and social issues, to lend support to the gradual end to marijuana prohibition across America," announced a 2015 press release from Willie's Reserve.

Master gardener Fred Renteria of Growing Like a Weed (GLW) said a Willie's Reserve represented contacted him a couple of months back, shortly after GLW switched from the medical marijuana sphere to the recreational I-502 market.

The representative liked GLW's organic approach to growing.

Washington: UW To Host June 14 Conference on Marijuana Policy

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City and state officials, entrepreneurs, attorneys and others will come together June 14 for a day-long conference at the University of Washington on the future of marijuana policy in the state.

The event, co-hosted by the Cannabis Law and Policy Project and UW Professional & Continuing Education, will be held at the UW School of Law and feature 30-plus speakers. The day aims to provide a comprehensive look at current and future regulations governing the retail and medical marijuana industries in Washington and elsewhere.

The conference kicks off with an overview of state marijuana policy from Rick Garza, director of the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board, and a presentation from Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes on policy issues in the city.

Following a discussion about recent litigation in Washington’s marijuana industry and an open panel discussion, the event will break off into three afternoon tracks.

U.S.: Federal Numbers Show Marijuana Smuggling Plummets After States Legalize

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Federal marijuana trafficking offenses are on a steep decline nationwide as more states legalize recreational cannabis.

According to the latest drug trafficking statistics from the United States Sentencing Commission (USSC), such offenses have fallen sharply since 2012, the year that Colorado and Washington residents decided at the ballot box to legalize weed, reports Christopher Ingraham at The Washington Post.

The decline continues through 2015, the most recent year for which numbers are available.

"The number of marijuana traffickers rose slightly over time until a sharp decline in fiscal year 2013 and the number continues to decrease," according to the report. This, mind you, while trafficking in other drugs -- particularly meth and heroin -- appears to be on the rise.

The USSC's numbers show that at the federal level, marijuana trafficking is becoming less of a problem. Legalization could be reducing demand for black market sales, state prosecutors could have changed how they charge defendants, or there could be another explanation altogether. The data doesn't provide enough details to draw a conclusion, according to researchers.

U.S.: Federal Data Shows Marijuana Trafficking Falls Following State Legalization

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Federal marijuana prosecutions dropped significantly after the passage of statewide laws legalizing and regulating the production and retail sale of cannabis to adults, according to data provided by the United States Sentencing Commission.

According to the new report, the number of cannabis trafficking offenders prosecuted federally fell dramatically after 2012, declining from more than 6,000 a year to fewer than 4,000 in 2015, reports Tom Angell at Marijuana.com.

"The number of marijuana traffickers rose slightly over time until a sharp decline in fiscal year 2013 and the number continues to decrease," according to the report.

The period of decline matches the passage and enactment of marijuana legalization measures in states including Colorado, Oregon and Washington.

Those convicted of marijuana trafficking serve an average of 29 months in prison, according to federal data.

A copy of the USSC report is available here for downloading:
https://lists.norml.org/list/mail.cgi/r/chapters/697347662961/dale/canor...

U.S.: AAA Says There's No Scientific Basis For Laws Against Driving On Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Six states that allow marijuana use in one form or another have legal tests which supposedly serve to determine who is driving while impaired -- but those tests have no scientific basis at all, according to a study done by the largest auto club in the United States. AAA, as a result, has called for scrapping those laws.

The study was commissioned by AAA's safety foundation, and it discovered that it's not possible to determine impairment by setting a blood-test threshold for the level of THC, the main component of marijuana responsible the high. Yet the laws in five of those six states automatically presume a driver is guilty of driving while impaired if he or she tests higher than the limit, not not guilty if the level is lower, reports the Associated Press.

The AAA foundation recommends replacing those faulty laws with ones that actually rely on science, using specially trained police officers to determine if a driver is impaired on pot, backed up by a test for the presence of THC rather than a specific level. The officers would be responsible for screening for dozens of supposed indicators of marijuana use.

Washington: Study Says Licensed Grows Can Meet Recreational, Medical Marijuana Needs

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A new study released on Thursday performed for the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board by the University of Washington supposedly shows that the amount of marijuana allowed to be grown by state-licensed I-502 producers in the state "is enough to satisfy both the medical and recreational marijuana markets," while ignoring the challenges of price, pesticides, and access which I-502 stores present for patients.

The study, "Estimating Canopy Size for the Washington Medical Marijuana Market," seems tailor-made to be used as political ammunition in the fight led by many I-502 recreational cannabis merchants to finish the shutting-down of Washington's medical marijuana community, which is already slated for extinction, at least as we know it, on July 1. After that date, any medical marijuana dispensaries which don't have an I-502 license will be required to shut down under penalty of law.

U.S.: Cannabis Market Reaches New Heights

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A recent report by New Frontier and ArcView Market Research has revealed some very impressive numbers. Sales of legal cannabis products increased by 17 percent in 2015, reaching $5.4 billion, and sales are expected to increase by 25 percent more in 2016, reaching a total value of $6.7 billion.

This is quite an achievement for an industry in which the first legal dispensaries opened just two years ago. By 2020, total legal sales across the U.S. are expected to reach $22 billion.

According to ArcView projections, Washington state is expected to be the largest legal sales market by 2020, with estimated $2.3 billion of total sales. In 2015 alone, legal sales of marijuana products totaled more than $709 million in Washington, which is an increase of an amazing 242 percent over 2014.

It is a rare opportunity when a market that is potentially worth hundreds of billions of dollars is virtually untouched by large companies. While the number of states where the growth and sales of cannabis products remains limited, the majority of the population in the United States approves the end of federal marijuana prohibition nationwide.

For now, in states where cannabis is a legitimate and legal product, sales are through the roof.

U.S.: National Cannabis Industry Association, BDS Partner To Serve NCIA Members Industry Data

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NCIA members to receive free access to BDS Analytics' GreenEdge™ cannabis sales dataset

Members of the National Cannabis Industry Association will be getting a new benefit, thanks to a partnership with cannabis market intelligence firm BDS Analytics. Beginning next month, NCIA member-businesses will receive free interactive access to market and category-level sales data compiled and contextualized by BDS, an industry source of market data and business insight.

All NCIA members will have access to data and market intelligence reports through an interactive set of dashboards, spreadsheets, and detailed reporting powered by the GreenEdge™ sales tracking software developed by BDS. Reports will cover crucial insights such as market size and growth, dollar and unit volume, retail price trends, and shifts in category mix.

Sponsoring and Sustaining NCIA members will gain access to even deeper levels of insight and reporting, including monthly executive reports, additional dashboards and reports, and personalized access to BDS Analysts.

According to NCIA, members will be able to make informed strategic decisions and answer critical business questions like:

• What proportion of industry sales come from flower vs. extractions vs. infused products?
• How big is the infused product market, and how fast is it growing?

Washington: LCB Says Patients Can Grow 4 Plants Each, Up To 15 Per Household

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Multiple authorized medical cannabis patients living in the same residence in Washington state can grow up to four plants each, up to a total of 15 plants, without being on the patient registry, according to information received from the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board on Thursday.

In answers to a Washington state medical marijuana patient advocate, Brian E. Smith of the WSLCB clarified the home growing rules for patients in the state. Only medicinal patients with a physician's authorization are allowed to cultivate cannabis in Washington without an I-502 cultivation license.

A qualifying patient not entered in the medical marijuana authorization database (Washington's euphemism for a patient registry) is allowed to grow up to four plants and possess up to six ounces of useable marijuana in his or her domicile, according to the LCB. This possession limit is per patient (RCW 69.51A.210) (3)).

Washington: Steep Hill Labs Releases Open Letter To Cannabis Community

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Steep Hill Labs on Wednesday released an open letter to the Washington State cannabis community encouraging a call to action to prevent contaminated cannabis from entering the patient and consumer supply chain.

"In a recent third party audit of certified I-502 laboratories in Washington State, cannabis contaminated with pesticides and microbiological organisms like E. coli are being passed by certain disreputable labs, which means unsafe products are getting onto shelves," said Steep Hill CEO Jmîchaele Keller. "This is unacceptable when technology and the proper science are in place to insure safety to prevent health risk to consumers and patients."

Recent independent third party testing, including that done upon the initiative of Ian Eisenberg of Uncle Ike's Pot Shop in Seattle, showed many samples of I-502 recreational weed had traces of pesticides, causing concern in the community, especially among medicinal users with compromised immune systems and liver function.

Keller said Steep Hill stands with other leading labs in the industry, like Trace Analytics, who apply scientific best practices to put public health first.

"Together we are here to uphold standards of quality in this industry for consumer protection, and we cannot succeed if other laboratories cheat the system," said Keller.

Washington: Board Revises Marijuana Rules; Product Returns Now OK

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

New rules from the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) released on Wednesday include now allowing marijuana retailers to accept any open product return with the original packaging.

The draft rules are necessary to implement SB 5052, 2015 legislation which "aligns the medical marijuana market with the existing recreational market" (by, in effect, subsuming the medicinal cannabis market into the recreational market, greatly reducing access for patients).

Under the rules timeline, a public hearing would be held May 4, with the Board being asked to adopt the rules on May 18. If adopted, the rules become effective June 18, prior to the availability of regulated medical marijuana products. The draft rules incorporate public comments received at seven public hearings across the state starting last fall.

“”These rules are based on extensive public input,” said Board Chair Jane Rushford. “The Board was diligent in listening and seeking practical input on its draft rules.

Highlights

Some highlights of the rule revisions include:

• Revised the definition of “licensed premises” to include all areas of a premises where the licensee has leasehold rights and any vehicle assigned to transport marijuana.

Washington: Tipping Now Allowed In Marijuana Stores

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

If you know a particularly good budtender at a recreational marijuana store in Washington state, you can now legally show your appreciation by adding a little greenery to the scenery.

Monetary tipping of budtenders wasn't allowed in Washington recreational marijuana stores until Monday, March 14, when the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) revised its policy, effective immediately.

"The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) has received several inquiries asking about the practice of bud tender tip jars," Deputy Chief Steve D. Johnson said in an email under LCB letterhead. "In response, the LCB has reviewed their position and this bulletin is to clarify the policy on allowable tipping."

"Tipping has not been an allowable practice in a licensed retail marijuana location," the email reads. "This position was adopted based on an interpretation of RCW 69.50.357, and indications that prices of products were being manipulated based on the size of a tip to avoid paying excise tax.

Washington: Governor Vetoes Industrial Hemp Bill, 26 More In 'Fit of Childish Rage'

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

You have to love state Rep. Cary Condotta of Chelan, Washington. This straight-shooting libertarian-leaning Republican calls it as he sees it, and he's very unhappy with Gov. Jay Inslee.

Inslee, piqued with the Washington Senate for not agreeing to a House budget, vetoed 27 bills in a row, according to Condotta, including an industrial hemp bill.

"Apparently in a childish fit of rage our moron, yes that's what I said moron, governor has vetoed a number of really good bills including our hemp bill which was three years in the making," Condotta posted on Facebook late Thursday night. "I would hope that Democrats and Republicans alike would immediately start a recall campaign for this idiot who has never had any business holding this office to start with."

"I think we have grounds to find him unfit for office," Condotta posted. "He has accomplished absolutely nothing in his four years and now has unaccomplished a lot fo hard work because he's emotionally unstable.

"Enough," Condotta posted. The state deserves a competent governor, Democrat or Republican, that has the talent and maturity to lead."

Condotta went on to call Inslee a "The so called governor," and called his fit of pique the "Most outrageous action imaginable."

The representative, no fan of former Democratic Gov. Christine Gregoire, even went so far as to post "She was very classy compared to this guy."

Washington: Board To Close Marijuana Retail License Application Window March 31

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) on Monday announced it will stop accepting marijuana retail license applications March 31 at 5 p.m.

The WSLCB had begun processing retail applications on Oct. 12, 2015, to accommodate additional demand and provide additional access points before the medical and recreational marketplace are merged on July 1, 2016.

“We are at the point where the number of highest priority applicants will exceed the number of available retail licenses,” said WSLCB Licensing Division Director Becky Smith. “We’ll meet the retail cap with priority ones and twos that we’re already processing.”

Retail Cap

On January 6, the Board adopted emergency rules to expand the number of retail marijuana outlets to "align the two markets," i.e., preside over the shutdown of medical marijuana dispensaries which weren't able to obtain a 502 license.

Based on staff’s recommendation, the former retail store cap of 334 was lifted to a new cap of 556. The recommendation followed an analysis of the entire marijuana marketplace by the state’s contracted research organization, BOTEC Analysis Corporation.

Priority System

SB 5052, the so-called "2015 Cannabis Patient Protection Act," which was devised by I-502 merchants as a way of eliminating the medical competition -- and then passed by a Legislature grateful for the productive new source of campaign donations, both over and under the table -- directed the WSLCB to issue licenses in the following priority order.

Washington: Legislature OKs Industrial Hemp Cultivation; Bill Heads To Governor's Desk

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Washington Legislature on Tuesday passed a bill that would allow licensed farmers to produce industrial hemp in the state as part of a research program.

Senate Bill 6206 unanimously passed the Washington House, 97-0, on Tuesday after passing the state Senate last month, reports the Associated Press. It now heads to Governor Jay Inslee's desk.

The measure would allow Washington State University to conduct a research program on the feasibility of industrial hemp production in the state. WSU would report to the Legislature in January 2017.

Industrial hemp can be made into a number of products such as food, fuel, fiber, clothing, cosmetics and medicines.

The Washington Department of Agriculture would supervise the program and license hemp farmers.

Graphic: Marijuana Venture

California: NORML Endorses Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA)

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The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) on Monday announced that its Board of Directors has formally voted to endorse the California ballot measure known as the Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act.

Founded in 1970, NORML has been a voice for marijuana reform in states all across the country and has helped increase public awareness of the failures and costs of marijuana prohibition. But the organization's credibility has taken a terrible hit since 2012, when NORML supported I-502, the Washington state legalization measure that has resulted in the decimation of the state's medical marijuana community and the virtual repeal of protections designed to protect safe access for patients.

"With the largest population of both marijuana producers and consumers in the United States, along with the largest voting delegation in Congress, the importance of voters in America's most populous and influential state, California, passing a binding marijuana legalization ballot initiative in 2016 can't be overstated,” said Allen St. Pierre, NORML's executive director. “On the matter of ending marijuana prohibition in America, as California goes, so too goes the rest of the nation."

NORML joins the Drug Policy Alliance, Marijuana Policy Project, California Cannabis Industry Association, California Medical Association and California NAACP, among others, in support of AUMA, which has been supported to the tune of a million bucks by Napster founder Sean Parker, who was also in on Facebook at the ground floor with founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Colorado: Marijuana Trends Analysis Includes Comparisons With Washington State

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Shatter is the most popular style of concentrate in Colorado, candy is the first edible choice for most cannabis consumers in the state, and sativa is more popular in Colorado than in Washington state.

This represents a small look at the sweeping range of insights released on Thursday through BDS Analytics’ GreenEdge™ database, which the company says is "the cannabis industry’s most reliable source of data analytics."

Among other things, the in-depth analysis of the Colorado cannabis market, with comparisons to trends in Washington state, finds:

• The top 10 flower strains in Colorado account for roughly 20 percent of total flower sales
• Durban Poison, a pure sativa, was the No. 1 strain in Colorado in Q4 2015
• Colorado’s leading edibles brands include Wana, Cheeba Chews, Incredibles and Dixie Elixirs
• Colorado’s total cannabis sales for 12-month period through Sept. 2015 were 3.8 times larger than Washington’s
• Data analysis reveals zero correlation between top strains in Washington and Colorado, other than popularity of Blue Dream, a sativa-dominant hybrid.

“We have now normalized and categorized millions of transactions in Colorado and Washington State in our GreenEdge™ database, which is the backbone of this detailed report,” said Roy Bingham, BDS Analytics founder and CEO. “Sales growth in both states remains impressive — compared to growth in other industries, it is jaw-dropping.

Washington: Marijuana Sharing Law Passes House

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

When Washington state's marijuana legalization law, I-502, passed, it didn't take long until folks figured out it is the most badly written "legalization" law yet passed. It's so badly written, in fact, that under this purportedly "progressive" legislation, it's a felony to pass a joint to your significant other.

Since the people of Washington apparently didn't read the damn thing before they passed I-502, seemingly not making it past "legalization" and thinking "how bad could THAT be?", it now falls upon the hapless Washington Legislature to fix the mess -- and that's pretty damn scary to anyone who knows just how clueless is that body of lawmakers when it comes to cannabis.

But they get points for trying, at least when it comes to the sharing issue. House Bill 2494, "An act relating to penalties for marijuana offenses," on Monday passed the Washington House on a 73 to 24 vote, and has been referred to committee in the Senate, reports Jake Ellison at the Seattle PI.

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