john urquhart

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Washington: King County Sheriff Says Canada Should Use State's Legalization Lessons

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

If Canadian Prime Minister designate Justin Trudeau intends to follow through on his promise to legalize marijuana, he might want to start by learning from Washington state, where recreational marijuana stores have been operating for more than a year, according to the sheriff of Washington's most populous county.

King County Sheriff John Urquhart said the biggest lesson learned in Washington is that once marijuana becomes legal, cities shouldn't have the power to use zoning bylaws to completely ban pot stores, reports CBC News.

"There are several cities in the state and in King County that have outlawed marijuana stores, and that's a big problem as far as I'm concerned," Urquhart said. "One of the premises of legalized marijuana is to get the gray market and criminals out of it.

"If someone has to drive 30 miles to buy their joint, they're not likely to do that," Urquhart said. "They're going to buy it from their old dealer who's not licensed, who's not paying taxes."

Urquart, a former narcotic investigator, says he supports legalization because "the war on drugs just wasn't working." And, so far, he said, none of the negative scenarios of increased crime and addiction have come true.

Washington: Rowdy News Conference Announces Closure Of Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

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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 Sheriff Endorses Oregon Marijuana Regulation Measure

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Second sheriff endorses Measure 91: “The evidence keeps coming in: Our new approach is working”

The Sheriff of King County, Washington, which includes the greater Seattle area, has taken the unprecedented step of endorsing a marijuana regulation measure on the ballot in the state next door.

King County Sheriff John Urquhart supported I-502, Washington state’s successful 2012 initiative to regulate marijuana, and he said he supports Oregon’s Measure 91 because, he said, Washington state’s regulated approach to marijuana is working.

“Month by month, tax dollars are going to schools and police, not the drug cartels,” Urquhart says in a new ad from Oregon’s Yes on 91 campaign (you can view the ad at the bottom of this article). “Wasteful arrests are way down. DUIs are down. Drug prevention programs are getting funds. Strict regulations are working.”

U.S.: Feds Have No Viable Legal Challenge To Marijuana Legalization, Admits Deputy A.G.

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The U.S. Justice Department doesn't have a viable legal basis on which to challenge marijuana legalization laws in Colorado and Washington, Deputy Attorney General James Cole admitted on Sunday.

"It would be a very challenging lawsuit to bring," Deputy Attorney General Cole said while testifying at the first Congressional hearing on cannabis legalization in the two states, reports Jacob Sullum at Forbes.

Cole said that simply repealing state penalties for growing, possessing, and selling marijuana does not create a "positive conflict" with the Uniform Controlled Substances Act.

He argued that the feds would be on firmer legal ground if they tried to preempt state licensing and regulation of cannabis businesses which are newly legal under state law. But the deputy attorney general said that approach would mean that if such litigation were successful, it would leave the industry unregulated.

That's why the Department of Justice decided on the approach summarized in the memo Cole issued on August 29, limiting federal enforcement to cases that involve eight "federal concerns," including sales to minors, drugged driving, and diversion of marijuana to other states.

"We have reserved quite explicitly the right to go in and preempt at a later date," Cole said, summarizing the DOJ's policy as "trust, but verify."

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