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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.

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

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.

Washington: Lawmaker Says Black Market Weed Still Cheaper Than The Legal Stuff

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

State Rep. Christopher Hurst, who just last week wouldn't allow a committee vote on a marijuana home grow bill, said on Thursday that it's still cheaper to buy black market cannabis in his state than it is to go in a store and buy the legal stuff.

House Bill 2347, which Hurst (D-Enumclaw) is sponsoring, would reduce the tax on legal recreational marijuana from 37 to 25 percent, reports LaVendrick Smith at the WNPA Olympia News Bureau. The idea is to make legal marijuana prices more competitive with those on the black market, according to Hurst.

A reduced tax would be one of the most important ways of eliminating black market sales of marijuana, according to Hurst, who said the black market still makes up 65 to 75 percent of cannabis sales in Washington state.

"We can't get there if we price ourselves so much higher than the illicit market," Hurst said. "The criminals love the tax rate being high, because they don't pay it, and it makes it so the legal people can't compete with them."

Then again, nobody knows for sure what Rep. Hurst even means when he says "black market," since last year he said he viewed all medical marijuana dispensaries as black market dealers -- and they have openly operated in the state for more than a decade, with many paying taxes. With the shutdown of medical dispensaries looming, medicinal cannabis patients will be forced to go through the recreational system to buy marijuana beginning July 1.

Washington: Adult Home Grow Bill Would Allow Up To 6 Plants

WashingtonStateMarijuana

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A new bill has been filed in the Washington Legislature would allow adults in the state to lawfully grow up to six marijuana plants. Washington is currently the only state with legal marijuana which doesn't allow any home cultivation; under the state's I-502 legalization law, all recreational cannabis must be grown by state-licensed commercial producers.

It's a chance for Washington to finally join the states where cannabis has been more fully legalized, because as any thinking person realizes, if you can't grow your own, it's not really legal yet.

HB 2629, filed by Rep. Brian Blake, a Democrat representing Washington's 19th Legislative District, would make the following amendments to current state marijuana laws:

• Authorizes individuals to lawfully engage in non-commercial (i.e., without an exchange of money) transfers of small amounts of cannabis and cannabis seeds;

• Authorizes adults to cultivate up to six marijuana plants at home and to possess up to 24 ounces of marijuana harvested from the home-grown plants;

• Makes the possession of up to the three times the current legal limit for cannabis products (i.e., useable cannabis, infused products, and concentrates) a civil infraction rather than a felony offense;

• Makes the possession of more than three times the legal limit for marijuana products, but not more than 12 times the limit, a misdemeanor offense;

• Makes the possession of more than 12 times the legal limit for cannabis products a felony offense;

Washington: Board To Increase Number Of Retail Marijuana Stores

WashingtonStateMarijuana

Board to increase the number of retail stores by from 334 to 556 "to ensure access by medical patients"

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Following an analysis of the entire marijuana marketplace in Washington state, the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) on Wednesday heard a recommendation from staff to increase the number of retail marijuana stores from the current cap of 334 to a new cap of 556.

The methodology for the cap will be part of emergency rules which will be announced Jan. 6, 2016. The allocation of retail licenses determined by the board will be published on the WSLCB website at lcb.wa.gov.

Earlier this year the Washington Legislature enacted, and Gov. Jay Inslee signed, legislation (SSB 5052) ironically entitled the Cannabis Patient Protection Act (the Act dismantles the system of safe access which has existed for patients in the state for 17 years).

“Our goal was clear; to ensure medical patients have access to the products they need,” claimed WSLCB Director Rick Garza. “There will be more storefronts for patients going forward than are available today. In addition, qualified patients can grow their own or join a four-member cooperative,” Garza said.

Unsurprisingly, Garza didn't mention that the Board's original recommendations were to entirely eliminate home growing entirely. Garza also negelected to mention that the Board reduced the number of plants patients are allowed to grow from 15 to 6 (if on the state patient registry) or just 4 (for patients who opt not to be on the state registry).

Washington: State To Open Retail Marijuana License Applications With No Initial Cap

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WSLCB Says The Goal Is To 'Align' Recreational and Medical Marijuana

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) on Wednesday announced that beginning October 12, it will accept new retail applications "using the priority criteria set forth in the law." According to the Board, there will not be an initial cap on the number of licenses issued.

"Potential applicants are strongly encouraged to ensure that they have all of the required documentation before applying," the WSLCB announced. "Failure to provide required documentation in a timely manner will result in the application being withdrawn, however you will be able to apply again."

The WSLCB adopted emergency rules and issued new draft rules to begin the public process of "aligning" the medical marijuana market with the existing recreational market (many activists would more cynically call it "eliminating" the medical marijuana market "in favor of" the recreational market).

The Board’s actions are the result of 2015 legislation, the so-called "Cannabis Patient Protection Act" (SB 5052, sponsored by Sen. Ann Rivers), which established a priority system for licensing existing medical marijuana outlets. The emergency rules, which are effective immediately, allow the WSLCB to begin the process of licensing new retail outlets that may sell both medical and recreational marijuana.

Existing recreational stores may also apply for an endorsement to sell both.

Washington: Suquamish Tribe Signs Retail Marijuana Compact With State

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) and the Suquamish Tribe on Tuesday signed what's being called the nation’s first state-tribal marijuana compact. The compact governs the production, processing, purchase and sale of marijuana on the Tribe’s land in Kitsap County.

The retail store will be located on Highway 305 next to Longhouse Texaco in Suquamish, Washington, and is expected to be open by November, the Tribe's communcation office reported, according to the North Kitsap Herald.

The 10-year agreement was made possible by legislation (HB 2000) enacted during the 2015 legislative session, according to the LCB. The signed compact moves next to Gov. Jay Inslee for approval.

“We believe that working closely with the Suquamish Tribe we can ensure a well-regulated marijuana market that protects the health and safety of Washington State citizens,” said Board Chair Jane Rushford. “This agreement is an excellent model for future compacts.”

The State recognizes the Suquamish Tribe as a sovereign nation and negotiated the agreement in lieu of licensure by the Board. Per the enacting legislation, a tribal tax equivalent to the state excise tax will be applied to sales to non-tribal customers on Suquamish tribal lands.

Washington: Marijuana Legalization Not Associated With Increased Teen Use

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Changes in marijuana laws aren't associated with increased use of pot by teenagers, according to data compiled by Washington's Healthy Youth Survey and published by the Washington State Institute of Public Policy.

Survey results from the years 2002 to 2014 show little change in marijuana use by Washington teens, despite the passage of laws allowing and expanding the use of cannabis for both medicinal and recreational uses during this time, reports the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).

Self-reported pot use fell slightly among 8th graders, 10th graders, and 12th graders during the survey period. Self-reported access to marijuana remained largely unchanged, and more 8th graders actually now report that cannabis is "hard to get."

The passage of I-502, which legalized the adult use of marijuana in 2012, isn't associated with any increase in consumption by youth, according to survey numbers. Between 2012 and 2014, self-reported lifetime cannabis use and/or use within the past 30 days either stayed stable or fell among every age group surveyed.

"Cannabis use and access among students in 6th through 12th grades have changed little from 2002 through the most recent survey in 2014," the report concluded.

Washington: Medical Marijuana Referendum 76 Won't Be On Ballot

R76NO.orgVolunteerYourTime,Talent,andDonateToday!

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Voters won't get the chance this fall to have their say on whether the Washington should keep changes made by the Legislature this spring to the state's medical marijuana laws.

Organizers of a petition drive to place a referendum on November's ballot reported they won't be turning in signatures by the deadline this week.

"I regret to report that the Referendum 76 effort has fallen short of the number of signatures gathered to qualify for the November ballot," organizer Don Skakie posted on the R76 NO Facebook page on Tuesday. "This was made known to the Elections Office yesterday afternoon and has appeared in the press already.

"While things are bad for patients, the struggle continues," Skakie said. "Please support Real Legalization through Initiative 739 for home growing, collecting signatures through December 31, 2015."

The secretary of state's office on Monday confirmed that the referendum had fallen short, reports Jim Camden at The Spokesman-Review.

R-76 would have challenged changes in Washington's medical marijuana law, putting medicinal cannabis under the regulation of the Liquor Control Board, currently in charge of recreational marijuana industry.

Medical marijuana dispensaries and growers will have to be licensed; the Catch-22 is that no licenses are currently available, and the path to legality for the shops is murky at best.

Washington: 19 of 157 Recreational Marijuana Stores Sell To Minors

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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: Governor Signs Bill Reducing Marijuana Taxes, Loosens Pot Zoning

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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: Compliance Checks Show 4 Recreational Marijuana Stores Sell To Minors

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Four Western Washington recreational retail marijuana businesses this month failed compliance checks conducted by the Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB).

Officers, working with underage investigative aides, checked 22 businesses for sales of marijuana to minors. The first checks represent an 82 percent no-sales-to-minors compliance rate.

The four 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. The checks, conducted May 15-18 in Skagit, Snohomish, Kitsap, Pierce and Cowlitz Counties, were the first marijuana compliance checks.

The checks followed a recent communication to all licensees that enforcement officers were beginning compliance checks and recommended best practices for avoiding an illegal sale.

Compliance checks are proven tools to reduce the sale of age-restricted products to minors, according to the WSLCB. Investigative aides assist officers with compliance checks. These individuals are from 18 to 20 years old. They must either present their true identification or none at all if asked by a clerk.

Liquor enforcement officers are empowered to issue Administrative Violation Notices to businesses that fail compliance checks. Fines or temporary license suspensions can be issued depending on the severity of the infraction or the frequency with which a business has been cited.

Washington: Gov. Inslee Signs Bill Eliminating Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

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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: Legislature OKs Gutting Medical Marijuana Program Under Legalization

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Washington Legislature on Tuesday approved a bill essentially gutting the state's medical marijuana program, sending to the desk of Governor Jay Inslee a bill that eliminates medicinal cannabis dispensaries now that the state's recreational market is nominally in place.

The Senate concurred with changes made to the bill in the House last week, then voted 41-8 to send it on to the Governor for his expected signature, reports Beth Nakamura at The Oregonian.

Republican Senator Ann Rivers of La Center claimed the state could "no longer wait" to "reconcile" the medical and recreational markets, effectively forcing patients to pay the much higher prices in recreational pot stores, where employees are forbidden to even mention the medicinal applications of cannabis.

"The reality is that we have a thriving illicit market," Rivers said, ignoring the fact that medical marijuana collectives have been legal in the state since 1998. "It's essential that we shut that down.

"But it was also essential that our patients had a clean supply and an adequate supply," Rivers said, in a statement that is dripping with irony given the fact that her bill does neither.

Washington: I-1372 Gathering Signatures To Protect And Strengthen Medical Marijuana

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Backers of a new initiative to strengthen Washington state's medical marijuana law are now gathering signatures.

"Initiative Measure No. 1372, filed January 6, 2015, will protect and strengthen the medical cannabis law, RCW 69.51A, by offering compassion, clarity and consistency," said Kirk Ludden of Cannabis Patient Protection Washington (CPPWA) on Wednesday.

I-1372 would make the following changes, according to Ludden:

• Bringing Washington state law into compliance with stated federal policy

• Allowing business owners to obtain licenses for producing, processing or dispensing cannabis in a commercial manner. Using the language from ESSB 5073, specifying cannabis for medical use licensing, allowing producers and processors to deliver cannabis to any cannabis for medical use licensee, and allowing the botanical herb tax exemption on cannabis for medical use.

• Creating and empowering the cannabis for medical use board, made up of the state and the community, to govern all aspects of the market. Through licensing and regulation fees, revenue is generated for the board to regulate the not-for-profit cannabis for medical use market while remaining revenue neutral.

• Maintaining small, private residential gardens and patient cooperatives that do not violate the spirit or intent of law. As well as protecting existing cannabis farmer's markets serving qualifying patients.

Washington: Liquor Board Issues First Recreational Marijuana Licenses

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Washington State Liquor Control Board on Wednesday issued the state's first licenses to produce and process recreational marijuana during a Board meeting at its headquarters in Olympia.

The licenses were issued to Sean Green of Spokane, who will be doing business as Kouchlock Productions.

"This is a historic day," said Board Chair Sharon Foster. "The hard work and preparation this agency has done has laid the foundation to make this pioneering endeavor a success."

Kouchlock Productions is licensed to produce and process -- but not sell -- recreational marijuana. It holds a restricted tier-three license to produce marijuana initially up to a maximum of 21,000 square feet.

The company is one of more than 2,800 producer license applications that the WSLCB is currently processing. Licenses will be continuously issued as they are ready.

The WSLCB will update weekly its list of pending and active marijuana licenses on the Frequently Requested Lists page of the public records section of its website.

Washington: Attorney General Says Cities, Counties Can Block Legal Marijuana Stores

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Washington state's anemic marijuana legalization law is looking weaker by the minute. Now it appears much of the state won't even have local access to cannabis -- Attorney General Bob Ferguson has announced cities and counties can block licensed, legal marijuana businesses from operating.

Just how much of the state will have actual marijuana stores remains an open question after Atty. Gen. Ferguson issued the long-awaited opinion on Thursday.

Ferguson said Initiative 502, the limited legalization measure approved by state voters in 2012, allows local governments to ban retail marijuana shops, grow operations, and processing facilities from their jurisdictions, reports Gene Johnson of the Associated Press.

The opinion was requested by the Washington State Liquor Control Board, which was put in charge of implementing marijuana legalization by I-502. The LCB is concerned that such local bans could severely restrict access to legal marijuana, making it difficult to move people from the black market.

Several localities, including unincorporated Pierce County, Lakewood and Wenatchee, already have enacted bans on cannabis businesses. These jurisdictions have local ordinances requiring businesses to "follow state, federal, and local law," and of course marijuana remains an illegal, Schedule I controlled substance under U.S. federal law.

Washington: Liquor Control Board Bans 'Legal' Marijuana From Bars

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Marijuana's supposed to be legal now in Washington state, but apparently it's not as legal as alcohol. The Washington State Liquor Control Board on Wednesday adopted a rule change making it illegal for any business with a liquor license to allow on-premises cannabis consumption of any kind.

The rule change goes into effect 30 days from unanimously board vote, according Liquor Control Board spokesman Mikhail Carpenter, reports Jeremy Pawloski at The Olympian. That would mean that marijuana smokers who light up in Frankie's Sports Pub in Olympia will be breaking the law after January 17.

Frankie's, for a year now, has allowed bar patrons to smoke weed in an upstairs private room. Owner Frank Schnarr says that members can legally smoke there after Washington state voters approved I-502, making it legal for adults 21 and older to possess and use up to an ounce of marijuana.

Washington bars -- that is, except for Frankie's -- ban smoking of any kind, but Schnarr won a legal battle to allow his patrons to smoke tobacco in an upstairs room, if they pay $10 annual dues to become "Friends of Frankie's."

Business is booming at the bar since he started allowing marijuana smoking, Schnarr said. There are now about 13,500 "Friends of Frankie's," he said.

Schnarr said he planned to ignore the Liquor Control Board rule change. Carpenter said the LCB will enforce the rule.

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