pierce county

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Washington: Judge Rules State Can't Ban Doctors From Advertising Marijuana Authorizations


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A Superior Court judge in Pierce County has ruled unconstitutional a state law which forbids doctors and other medical professionals from advertising medical marijuana authorizations in their advertisements.

Judge Elizabeth Martin in a Friday ruling said the law violates both the Washington and U.S. constitutions by curbing free speech, reports Adam Lynn at The News Tribune of Tacoma. While the state might have an interest in regulating such advertising, Martin ruled, banning it completely is unacceptable.

"I find the statute impermissibly overbroad as it chills even informational speech aimed solely at public education," Judge Martin wrote in her decision.

The ruling came in a case brought by Scott Havsy, a Pierce County osteopath. He took the state to court last year after the Washington Department of Health punished him for advertising his willingness to authorize patients' use of medicinal cannabis.

The sanctions levied against Dr. Havsy have been on hold while the court case plays out. Havsy, who has practiced for more than 30 years, authorizes a number of patients for medical marijuana.

Attorney Mark G. Olson of Everett argued that the state's ban on medical marijuana advertising hindered the ability of patients to find doctors willing to authorize them for cannabis use.

Washington: State Attorney General Defends Marijuana Legalization Law Against Cities


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Back in January, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson released an opinion which concluded that, as drafted, limited legalization measure I-502 does not prevent cities and counties in the state from banning marijuana businesses. But on Thursday, Ferguson moved to join three cannabis lawsuits filed against the cities of Wenatchee and Fife for doing exactly that -- banning marijuana businesses.

"As attorney general, my job is to make sure the will of the people is upheld," the Attorney General said, reports the Kent Reporter. "If any party to these lawsuits seeks to overturn state laws, my office will be there to defend the law."

Businesses that applied for marijuana licenses are suing the cities in Chelan County and Pierce County Superior Courts to challenge ordinances that block them from opening. Attorney General Ferguson's office is intervening to defend I-502 as the law.

The Attorney General's Office is authorized by law to intervene in lawsuits to protect the interests of the people of the state, according to Ferguson's press release. The office frequently intervenes, for example, in environmental and consumer protection cases.

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


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 Announces 334 Marijuana Stores Will Open In State


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Up to 334 retail marijuana stores will be allowed in Washington state, the Liquor Control Board announced on Wednesday, and each county in the state will have its own cap on stores.

King County will be allowed 61 stores (21 of them in Seattle); Pierce County can have up to 31; Snohomish will be capped at 35 (five of them in Everett); Thurston County will have 11 (two each in Olympia and Lacey); Whatcom County will have 15 (six in Bellingham); Kitsap County will be allowed 10; and Clallam County will have six, report Austin Jenkins and Martha Kang at KPLU. Mason County will be allowed five stores, and Jefferson County will get four, reports The Kitsap Sun.

The entire state can produce, at most, 40 metric tons, or two million square feet, or marijuana per year, according to the WSLCB in its revised proposed rules for recreational cannabis. That amount is supposedly based on state research about the amount of cannabis consumed in Washington state prior to legalization, reports SF Gate.

Washington: DEA Serves Search Warrants On Medical Marijuana Dispensaries


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Federal agents on Wednesday raided several medical marijuana dispensaries in Washington, just eight months after voters in the state approved the legalization of cannabis.

The Drug Enforcement Administration's Seattle office confirmed that "several search warrants were executed today involving marijuana storefronts" in the Puget Sound area, reports M. Alex Johnson at NBC News.

The number of raids remained unclear on Thursday afternoon; Seattle marijuana attorney Douglas Hiatt said he personally knew of four raids.

"What we heard from a DEA agent that talked to one of my clients that was at the scene was that there were 18 targets or 18 places that they were going to hit," Hiatt said, reports Drew Mikkelsen at KING 5.

Despite that estimate, the names of only four raided collectives -- Seattle Cross, Tacoma Cross, Key Peninsula Cross, and Bayside Collective -- have been circulated. All four storefronts were among about 20 dispensaries raided by the DEA in November 2011, reports KOMO.

Washington: Judge Again Orders Police To Return Man's Marijuana

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

Two months ago, Tacoma Municipal Court Judge Jack Emery told police to give the man his marijuana back. Police refused. Judge Emery on Thursday repeated himself with emphasis: He gave the cops one week to comply with his February 28 court order and return the cannabis to Tacoma resident Joseph L. Robertson, or face possible contempt of court charges.

"Appeal or comply," Judge Emery told Assistant City Attorney John Walker, reports Sean Robinson at The News Tribune of Tacoma. "Or next week, show up, and I would advise you to bring counsel."

The ruling -- a procedural victory for Robertson -- will likely set the stage for a precedent-setting case.

Police seized the marijuana back in May 2012 after they had pulled Robertson over for speeding. The officer who made the traffic stop claimed he smelled marijuana inside Robertson's car, and later he found a small amount of weed inside the vehicle.

Robertson was ticketed for driving without a license and misdemeanor marijuana possession and released. City prosecutors dismissed the possession charge in December after Washington voters approved the legalization of small amounts of marijuana in November.

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