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Washington: State Gets More Applications For Growing Marijuana Than For Selling It


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Based on the first week's worth of applications, Washington state has more than enough people interested in getting licenses to grow marijuana. But so far there are applications for fewer than half the number of cannabis stores allowed by state regulations.

The application period for those who want to grow, process or sell marijuana in Washington state under the implementation of legalization measure Initiative 502 began on November 18, reports Jim Camden at the Spokane Spokesman-Review. Applications are filed with the state Department of Revenue, which processes the requests before sending them on to the Washington State Liquor Control Board.

The LCB is in charge of implementing and regulating recreational marijuana sales. On Tuesday, it released the names and locations from the 922 applications filed during the first week (for the list, click "Marijuana License Applicants" on this page. The Board said it will grant up to 334 retail licenses statewide, with limits in each county. So far 158 applications have been received for retail licenses; no applications have been received so far from 14 counties.

The amount of space allowed to be devoted to growing marijuana, statewide, has been limited to 2 million feet by the Board. Submitted applications from the first week alone for growing licenses total almost 6.8 million square feet.

Washington: BioTrackTHC Named State's Legal Marijuana Tracing System


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB) has selected the firm BioTrackTHC, a division of Bio-Tech Medical Software, Inc., to provide a legal marijuana traceability system to the agency.

Accurately tracking cannabis throughout the entire supply chain (you'd think the stuff was radioactive by how much officials stress over it) is a major component of I-502, Washington's limited legalization initiative approved by voters last year.

BioTrackTHC's tracing system will assist the WSLCB with tracking and monitoring all marijuana cultivation, processing, testing, and retail transaction data by cannabis licensees through the supply chain to help prevent diversion, "promote public safety" (what are they gonna do, make sure a bale of it doesn't fall on someone?) and collect tax revenue (ah, so THAT's why they're so worried about it).

The WSLCB directly notified 785 vendors about the contract opportunity for tracing marijuana; out of 22 proposals submitted, BioTrackTHC was the highest scoring bidder, 1041.65 out of a possible 1200.

"We are absolutely thrilled," said Steven Siegel, CEO of BioTrackTHC. "We are very grateful to all of our existing clients, partners, and other industry friends who have given us invaluable feedback and insights into making BioTrackTHC the most robust and accurate seed-to-sale system on the market.

Colorado, Washington Governors Ask Feds To Allow Marijuana Banking


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The governors of Colorado and Washington on Wednesday asked the federal government to change bank regulations to allow marijuana businesses to do banking, and to allow the states to continue implementing voter-approved cannabis legalization.

In a letter to federal banking regulators, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee called access to the banking system "a necessary component in ensuring a highly regulated marijuana system that will accurately track funds, prevent criminal involvement, and promote public safety," reports John Ingold at The Denver Post.

"Our states will soon be licensing hundreds of retail stores, each of which will, without a normal banking relationship, be forced to conduct business on an all-cash basis," the governors' letter states. "This creates an unnecessary inviting target for criminal activity."

Banks have been reluctant to cater to marijuana-related businesses, fearing they'd fall afoul of federal money laundering and conspiracy laws. But last month, a Department of Justice memo lessened the threat of criminal prosecution against state-legal marijuana businesses that follow the rules. Inslee and Hickenlooper wrote in their letter than the Justice Department showed "bold leadership" with that memo.

Marijuana is still considered a Schedule I controlled substance under federal law, the most restrictive classification possible.

Washington: Liquor Control Board Picks Firm For Seed-To-Sale Marijuana Tracking


BioTrackTHC to Provide Traceability Software

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB) on Friday announced that BioTrackTHC is the apparent successful proposer to provide traceability software to the agency for its "seed-to-sale" marijuana tracking program. ("Apparent successful proposer" is the official term until contract terms are finalized.)

The traceability software will be able to trace cannabis products from start to sale and allows the WSLCB to monitor and track any plant or product in the system at any time. Accurately tracking licensee transactions and products is a major public safety component of Initiative 502.

Based in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, BioTrackTHC is a software company which designs, develops and supports marijuana specific seed-to-sale inventory control systems. Their software is deployed in nearly 200 marijuana operations across seven states, the District of Columbia and Canada.

BioTrackTHC scored 1041.65 points out of a maximum of 1200, making them the highest scoring bidder, according to the WSLCB.

“Announcing the selection of a vendor for our traceability system is one more piece of the puzzle in creating a tightly controlled and regulated cannabis system for the state of Washington,” said I-502 Project Manager Randy Simmons.

Next Steps

There is a brief protest period where unsuccessful bidders can challenge the decision. The WSLCB will move simultaneously to negotiate the contract.

Washington: State Supreme Court Upholds Medical Necessity Defense For Growing Marijuana


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

In a landmark case with far-reaching implications, a divided Washington state Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a medical necessity defense in a marijuana cultivation case against a man who was fined $4,000 three years ago for growing 42 plants. According to the decision, a prior medical marijuana authorization is not necessary in order to claim a medical necessity defense for cannabis.

The narrow 5-4 ruling sends the case of William Kurtz back to Thurston County Superior Court for further action, reports Brad Shannon at The Olympian. Kurtz -- who uses a wheelchair due to a medical condition that causes him chronic pain -- was fined but not sent to jail by Judge Carol Murphy in October 2010, reported Jeremy Pawloski of The Olympian at that time.

The majority decision was written by Chief Justice Barbara Madsen, joined by Justices Charles Johnson, Debra Stephens and Steven Gonzalez and Justice Pro Tem Tom Chambers.

Washington: DEA Raiding Puget Sound Medical Marijuana Dispensaries


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Federal agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration, reportedly aided by local police and sheriffs' deputies, on Wednesday raided a number of medical marijuana dispensaries in the Puget Sound region of Washington state. Unconfirmed reports indicated up to 19 shops may have been raided.

DEA spokeswoman Jodie Underwood on Wednesday confirmed the operation was underway, but declined to provide details, reports the Associated Press.

Washington voters legalized adult possession of up to an ounce of cannabis last November, but marijuana remains illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act.

Targeted dispensaries included Seattle Cross, Tacoma Cross, and Bayside Collective in Olympia, according to Seattle medical marijuana lawyer Douglas Hiatt.

DEA agents seized personal cell phones of dispensary workers, along with dried cannabis, but left computers and about $1,000 in cash at Bayside, according to employee Addy Norton. Agents told her the raid was part of a two-year investigation.

Norton said she was scheduled to appear before a federal grand jury in Seattle in September.

"We are still open!" an employee posted on Bayside Gardens' Facebook page. "We may not have meds at the moment but we are still open! They will not keep us down!

Washington: Liquor Control Board Sets Public Hearings For Marijuana Legalization Implementation


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Washington State Liquor Control Board on Wednesday announced four public hearings across the state regarding the proposed rules for the implementation of Initiative 502 marijuana legalization.

The hearings are a required part of the rule-making process and provide an opportunity for stakeholders to offer public testimony on the proposed rules for I-502.

“Everything we’ve done regarding I-502 has drawn a crowd and we want to accommodate everyone,” said Board Chair Sharon Foster. “Having four hearings across the state allows us to do that.

"This is a chance for those who are impacted by, or anticipate being involved in, the business of marijuana to testify for the record about the proposed rules,” Foster said.

Washington regulators intend to charge $1,250 in license and application fees for marijuana growers and retailers, reports Jacob Sullum at Reason.com. Cannabis itself will be taxed 25 percent at each of three levels (growing, processing, and retailing). Home cultivation, unfortunately, is not permitted.

August 6: Shoreline Community College
Main Dining Hall
16101 Greenwood Ave N
Shoreline, WA 98133
6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

August 7: Red Lion Hotel
Fir and Spruce Ballroom
2300 Evergreen Park Drive SW
Olympia, WA 98502
9:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

August 7: Central Washington University
Student Union Ballroom B and C
400 E University Way
Ellensburg, WA 98926
6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Washington: Liquor Control Board Wants Legal Marijuana Input From Users, Growers


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Washington State Liquor Control Board -- which has been put in charge of implementing marijuana legalization in the state under Initiative 502, approved by voters last November -- wants input on rules and regulations for the newly legal cannabis industry.

The WSLCB has announced a couple of surveys to help with research their consultants at BOTEC Analysis Corporation are sponsoring, reports the Spokane Spokesman-Review.

One, by the RAND Corporation, aims to measure marijuana consumption throughout Washington, with questions about amount used, which products, and how much money spent. "The survey will be the most detailed yet on cannabis use habits," the board said.

It's confidential and short; about 15 minutes for heavy users, less for others, according to the board. "Not immediately clear if it will take heavy users longer because they have more questions to answer or because their response time is somewhat slowed from all that marijuana," quipped The Spokesman-Review.

The RAND Corporation survey can be taken by clicking here.

BOTEC isn't commenting on the survey, apparently to avoid doing or saying anything that would "shape" the responses.

Washington: Medical Marijuana Patients Tell Liquor Control Board: Hands Off Our Medicine


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

From all over the Puget Sound area and throughout the state the medicinal cannabis patients came, and together, at the Washington state Capitol on Wednesday, they spoke with one voice: "Keep The Liquor Control Board Out Of My Medical Marijuana."

Dozens of cannabis advocates gathered in Olympia to protest efforts by the Legislature to include the medical marijuana industry under the state's new recreational cannabis law, Initiative 502, approved by voters last November.

Lawmakers are considering bills that would put the Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB) in charge of a study to see how "integration" of the two spheres -- medical and recreational cannabis -- would work. Investors in the state's newly legal recreational marijuana industry fear that medical cannabis could draw customers away from the highly regulated, stiffly taxed pot that will theoretically be available in state stores early next year.

"We have said that the medical marijuana market is a challenge to the success of the recreational market, the reason being that a certain percentage of people are buying it through the medical marijuana market for recreational purposes," claimed Brian E. Smith, speaking for the Liquor Control Board, reports Melissa Santos of the Tacoma News Tribune. "They would be competing with the recreational market, which is heavily taxed and highly regulated."

Washington: Medical Cannabis Patients To Rally At State Capitol To Protect Safe Access


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Residents who use cannabis as medicine, angry about an amendment that was quietly slipped into the state Senate and House budget bills, will be gathering from all over the state of Washington in Olympia at the Capitol Campus Wednesday, June 19. They say the rally is to "save medical cannabis in Washington."

The patients are upset about an amendment that would put the control of their medical fate in the hands of the state Liquor Control Board. This amendment could fundamentally change every section of the state's current medical cannabis laws, according to patient advocates.

These regulations would include limits on age, the amount of medication a patient could have, which conditions would qualify, where they could get their medication and who could actually grow it.

The Liquor Control Board has already stated publicly that they believe that the tax-free status of cannabis as a medication would be a ‘threat’ to the LCB’s projected revenue stream from recreational marijuana sales. Current state law does not tax medications that require a health care provider's signature. This law could single out cannabis as the only medication in the state targeted for taxation.

“I have a brain tumor and they’re going to decide how much medicine I need and then they’re going to tax it," said Ken Martin, a medical marijuana patient from Seattle. "I don’t pay tax on any of my other medications. This is nothing more than greed on the part of the LCB and the state Legislature.”

Washington: Inaugural Cannabis Awareness Event Set For State Capitol

There is a truth that must be heard!By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The first-ever Hempseed Festival, a cannabis awareness event at Heritage Park in Washington's state capitol city of Olympia, will be held August 3.

"Now that cannabis has been legalized for adults 21 and older, SONshine Organics has decided to do their part in helping to entertain and educate people on the benefits of this plant becoming legal," said Sarena Haskins of SONshine Organics.

To do so, Haskins and the rest of the SONshine crew have put together Hempseed, a cannabis music, education and awareness event.

Featured will be speakers from the Cash Hyde Foundation, Sarena Haskins, Lacey City Councilman Ron Lawson, Hemp News and Toke Signals Editor Steve Elliott, Cat Jeter, and Grandma Hemp.

"There will be local bands, vendor booths, tons of great speakers, and lots more!" Haskins said. "This is the first event of its kind and something that SONshine Organics is working to make a yearly fun/walk fundraising event."

Washington: House Bill Aims To Tax Marijuana Brand Names

There is a truth that must be heard!By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A Washington state House committee on Friday held a public hearing on a bill that would tax marijuana "brand names" and trademarks likely to be introduced in the state when the sale of legal marijuana starts at the end of this year.

House Bill 1976, as heard by the House Finance Committee, would tax $3.60 per $1,000 of "assessed value" on "all trademarks, trade names, brand names, patents and copyrights related to marijuana," reports Rachel La Corte of The Associated Press.

The bill doesn't specify how those "values" would be determined, and instead says the Department of Revenue can "adopt rules" for determining those amounts. So it sounds suspiciously as if the department could tax almost any amount they wanted, depending on how highly they decide to arbitrarily value the brand names.

Washington voters last November approved I-502, which legalized up to one ounce of marijuana for adults 21 and over and allows for its legal sale through state-licensed stores. The state in December is scheduled to start issuing licenses to a few marijuana growers, processors and retail stores, with the cannabis taxed a whopping 25 percent at each of the three stages of the process. No home-growing is allowed under I-502.

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