United States: Washington, Other States Move to Legalize

By RACHEL LA CORTE Associated Press Writer

United States: Washington, Other States Move to Legalize OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - Washington is one of four states where measures to legalize and regulate marijuana have been introduced, and about two dozen other states are considering bills ranging from medical marijuana to decriminalizing possession of small amounts of the herb.

"In terms of state legislatures, this is far and away the most active year that we've ever seen," said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the New York-based Drug Policy Alliance, which supports reforming marijuana laws.

Nadelmann said that while legalization efforts are not likely to get much traction in state capitals anytime soon, the fact that there is such an increase of activity "is elevating the level of public discourse on this issue and legitimizing it."

"I would say that we are close to the tipping point," he said. "At this point they are still seen as symbolic bills to get the conversation going, but at least the conversation can be a serious one."

Opponents of relaxing marijuana laws aren't happy with any conversation on the topic, other than keeping the drug illegal.

"There's no upside to it in any manner other than for those people who want to smoke pot," said Travis Kuykendall, head of the West Texas High Intensity Drug-Trafficking Area office in El Paso, Texas. "There's nothing for society in it, there's nothing good for the country in it, there's nothing for the good of the economy in it."

Washington: Lawmakers to Consider Legalizing Marijuana

By Associated Press

Washington: Lawmakers to Consider Legalizing Marijuana OLYMPIA -- Washington is one of four states where lawmakers will consider bills to legalize and regulate marijuana, and about two dozen other states are considering bills ranging from medical marijuana to decriminalizing possession of small amounts.

Meanwhile, in Oregon, marijuana-law critics have taken to the streets. A petition drive has been launched to place the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act before voters in 2010. If passed, it would direct the state to legalize marijuana, regulate its cultivation, sell it and tax the sales. Farmers could also get permits to raise marijuana or hemp.

Opponents of relaxing marijuana laws aren't happy with any conversation on the topic, other than keeping the drug illegal.

"There's no upside to it in any manner other than for those people who want to smoke pot," said Travis Kuykendall, head of the West Texas High Intensity Drug-Trafficking Area office in El Paso, Texas. "There's nothing for society in it. There's nothing good for the country in it. There's nothing for the good of the economy in it."

Legalization bills were introduced in California and Massachusetts earlier this year, and this month, New Hampshire and Washington pre-filed bills in advance of their legislative sessions that begin in January. Marijuana is illegal under federal law, but guidelines have been loosened on federal prosecution of medical marijuana under the Obama administration.

Washington: Washington State Should Decriminalize Marijuana

By Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles and Toby Nixon

Washington: Washington State Should Decriminalize Marijuana Washington State -- Once again, the annual Hempfest drew tens of thousands to parks along Seattle’s waterfront this past summer. In its mission statement, the all-volunteer organization that produces the event says, “The public is better served when citizens and public officials work cooperatively in order to successfully accomplish common goals.”

We agree. That is why we, as a Democratic state senator and former Republican state representative, support Senate Bill 5615. This bill would reclassify adult possession of marijuana from a crime carrying a mandatory day in jail to a civil infraction imposing a $100 penalty payable by mail. SB 5615 was voted out of committee with a bipartisan “do pass” recommendation and will be considered by legislators in 2010.

The bill makes a lot of sense, especially in this time of severely strapped budgets. Our state Office of Financial Management reported annual savings of $16 million and $1 million in new revenue if SB 5615 passes. Of that $1 million, $590,000 would be earmarked for the Washington State Criminal Justice Treatment Account to increase support of our underfunded drug treatment and prevention services.

Washington: Forum On Decriminalizing Marijuana Set In Edmonds

By Jerry Cornfield, Herald Writer

Washington: Forum On Decriminalizing Marijuana Set In Edmonds EDMONDS — Is it time the state lightens up on those caught possessing a little pot?

That question will be a topic at a public forum Monday in Edmonds featuring a former U.S. attorney and a Seattle lawmaker who says lesser penalties will save millions of dollars for cash-starved cities, counties and the state.

Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D- Seattle, has authored legislation making possession of 40 grams or less of marijuana a civil infraction rather than a misdemeanor. Though the bill didn't get far last session, she plans on pushing it hard when the Legislature gets to work in 2010.

She will be on a panel with former U.S. Attorney John McKay; former White House adviser Bud Krogh; and Rick Steves, Edmonds travel guru and television host known for his advocacy of changing laws regarding marijuana.

“This forum is important to broaden the public discussion” of the issue, said Rep. Mary Helen Roberts, D-Lynnwood, another backer of decriminalizing marijuana use, who will be attending Monday.

Legislation introduced by Kohl-Welles passed the Senate Judiciary Committee in February and then stalled. A House version Roberts co-sponsored never received a hearing in that chamber.

Washington: Seattle Hempfest Organizers, Artist/Activist Shyan Selah Look To The Future

By Hip Hop Press

There is a truth that must be heard! This August marks the 18th annual Seattle Hempfest, arguably the largest hemp festival in the world. This year's Hempfest theme: "A Hempen Future," will put a focus on the year 2020 and the possibility of the legalization of cannabis in all forms, radically impacting our future environment, economy, food and fuel resources. In honor of looking ahead to the future, the event's organizers have chosen progressive urban artist, Shyan Selah, to headline the opening night (7pm - August 15th) of this "protestival."

Washington: Seattle Hempfest 2009

Washington: Lynden Resident Grows Marijuana — Legally

By Mark Reimers, Tribune reporter

There is a truth that must be heard! LYNDEN – On May 9, officers from the Lynden Police Department visited a house in town and discovered a number of marijuana plants growing under lights in the basement.

The residents of the house did not attempt to hide the plants and the police issued no citations.

No one was arrested — it was all legal.

In 1998, 59 percent of Washington voters approved Initiative 692, which allowed marijuana to be grown and used for certain medical conditions.

For law enforcement agencies, encountering medical marijuana now requires them to step lightly.

“We work very closely with the prosecutor’s office,” said Lynden Deputy Chief John Billester. “We don’t want to cross a line and step on someone’s rights.”

Even though originally the law outlined only a legal defense for medical growers and users to use in court, law officers aren’t likely to make an arrest if they suspect the case will get thrown out of court.

Billester said it can make for an uncomfortable situation when people ask officers why they are taking away someone’s medication.

Working closely with the prosecutor’s office is the preferred course for most law enforcement agencies in Whatcom County, in order to make sure any case brought forward is clear-cut.

Sumas Police Chief Chris Haugen said his department recently assisted federal customs agents who encountered someone with medical marijuana.

Washington: Reefer Sameness

By Van Voice Editorial Board

There is a truth that must be heard! Drug policy is at a crossroads in America. The “War on Drugs,” it seems, is headed toward a final resting place in the history books. The Obama Administration has said it will stop using the term in its dealings of drug control policy, perhaps putting an end to an era of domestic and foreign drug policy that more and more are coming to realize was an utter failure in many ways.

At the crux of the issue is marijuana. New Attorney General Eric Holden has claimed the Drug Enforcement Agency will stop federal raids on state-approved medical marijuana dispensaries. On May 18, the U.S. Supreme Court turned down two appeals challenging California’s medical marijuana law. These are two signs that control of domestic marijuana policy will continue to be put in the hands of state legislatures.

Washington is one of 13 states that allow citizens to use marijuana for medical purposes. Furthermore, both houses of the state legislatures are currently considering a bill that would reclassify adult possession of no more than 40 grams of marijuana to a $100 penalty.

These issues and more were discussed at last months Forum at the Library presentation, “Marijuana: Current Policy & Practice – What’s Happening?”

Washington: Medical Marijuana A Cloudy Issue In Mid-Columbia

By Laura Kate Zaichkin, Herald staff writer

There is a truth that must be heard! After almost five years of constant pain and countless medications, Chet Biggerstaff was ready to give up.

Narcotics, muscle relaxants, a morphine pump and every other treatment the Richland man tried failed to blunt the extreme chronic pain he suffered from because of several car wrecks.

But in 2000, Biggerstaff stumbled upon an alternative treatment that was exactly what he'd been looking for -- medical marijuana.

"I rolled up a joint, first hit -- within the first 15 seconds -- the nausea, the spasms disappeared," said the 38-year-old. "None of the medicines they had me on touched it."

Now a medical marijuana advocate, he has a vision to make the drug more accessible to other Mid-Columbia patients. He wants to establish a collective to grow and distribute the drug, but the state's ambiguous medical marijuana law is clouding that vision.

Washington allows residents who suffer from a terminal or debilitating illness and have a written recommendation from their doctor to legally possess a 60-day supply of marijuana.

But advocates and patients say the law does nothing to remove barriers to getting safe, legal and consistent supplies of medical marijuana.

Washington: County Pays Medical Marijuana User $2,000 for New Lamps Following Acquittal

There is a truth that must be heard! PORT ORCHARD — Kitsap County cut a $2,000 check Thursday to a medical marijuana user whose lamps for growing pot were destroyed by county officials.

Bruce Olson, 55, was acquitted by a jury in March of illegally growing and selling pot. He went to the sheriff's office this month — two years after his South Kitsap home was raided by county investigators — in an attempt to get some of his property back, according to Sheriff's Office spokesman Scott Wilson.

Olson got his paraphernalia and video surveillance equipment back, as ordered by Kitsap County Superior Court, Wilson said. His ballasts, lights and bulbs for growing the marijuana, however, had been destroyed because of lack of space in the county's evidence room, he added, and so the county agreed to compensate him for the loss.

The sheriff's office would not return the marijuana it confiscated, however, because, Wilson said, "we don't know how much he may already have."

State law limits medical marijuana users to a 60-day supply.

Wilson added that the marijuana had grown old and moldy in the evidence room.

"It would be unfit for consumption," he said.

Olson's acquittal on the grounds he was a medical marijuana user was the first Wilson can recall.

"We've never had a situation where we've had to give it back to them," he said of the property.

Source: http://www.kitsapsun.com/news/2009/may/29/county-pays-medical-marijuana-...

Washington State: Rick Steves Nominated for EMMY as Host of Program on Marijuana Laws

By ACLU Washington

There is a truth that must be heard! Travel writer Rick Steves has been nominated by The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, Northwest Regional Chapter, to receive an EMMY Award for his role as host of the ACLU of Washington's "Marijuana: It's Time for a Conversation." The half-hour television program examines the history and current impacts of state and federal marijuana laws and invites viewers to
consider, and discuss with others, whether those laws are working for our communities.

"Conversation" has been viewed more than 30,000 times in western Washington households subscribed to Comcast On Demand. It has received print and radio media coverage locally and nationwide, and it has been screened to capacity audiences at Spokane's Metropolitan Performing Arts Center and the Kirkland Performance Center. The associated website, MarijuanaConversation.org, has received over 320,000 hits.

Seattle network stations sparked some controversy when they refused to air the program during evening hours when most adults would be likely to be watching. KING-TV and its affiliate KONG would only run the program at 1:00 a.m. KOMO and KIRO refused to air the program at all.

Washington State: Kitsap Prosecutor Drops Medical Cannabis Charges, Port Orchard Independent

By CHARLIE BERMANT, Port Orchard Independent Staff Writer

There is a truth that must be heard! The Kitsap County Prosecutor’s Office announced Wednesday afternoon it has dropped criminal charges against a local medical marijuana patient.

Olalla resident Glenn Musgrove, 56, was accused of unlawful use of a building for drug purposes. A WestNET report said that one of Musgrove’s neighbors reported the marijuana grown for medicinal treatment was being sold for profit.

Musgrove’s caregivers, David May and Jena Milo, were also facing prosecution.

All charges were dismissed.

“After looking over the case, we’ve decided we will not proceed,” said Felony and Juvenile Division Chief Tim Drury. “We do not think we can convince a jury of his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Musgrove was arrested in March 2008. Many of the details gathered in the charging document originated from a confidential informant, but WestNET assembled financial data about Musgrove, his brother and his caregivers that suggested an illegal drug operation.

This would have been the second high-visibility medical marijuana case in Kitsap this spring, following that of Olalla resident Bruce Olson, who was acquitted on March 24 of similar charges.

Clayton Longacre, who is representing Musgrove, was not immediately available for comment.

The previous trial drew medical marijuana advocates from throughout the northwest, who provided support for Olson during his trial.

Washington State: Kitsap Medical Marijuana Defendant Acquitted

By CHARLIE BERMANT, Port Orchard Independent Staff Writer

There is a truth that must be heard! A medical marijuana patient being prosecuted in Kitsap County Superior Court for drug trafficking was found not guilty on Tuesday morning, after a jury ruled that his use of the drug was within the law.

The jury deliberated for approximately two hours prior to its ruling.

After the verdict, the prosecution maintained that the case had nothing to do with the treatment itself. Instead, it had to do whether defendant Bruce Wayne Olson was selling the homegrown drug for profit.

“Each county is struggling to understand what is an appropriate amount of marijuana for medical use,” said Defense Attorney Thomas Balerud. “The prosecutors should look to the will of the public to determine this. In this case, the jury spoke its mind and determined that no lawyers should be able to overrule a doctor’s judgement.”

Prosecutor Alexis Foster said this was not a precedent-setting case and would not affect how such violations are prosecuted in the future.

“This was never about medical marijuana,” she said. “We believed it was an illegal manufacturing case, and that the defendant was breaking the law. We will continue to prosecute anything we believe to be a distribution site.”

Washington State: Jury Acquits South Kitsap Man in Medical Marijuana Case

By Josh Farley, Kitsap Sun

There is a truth that must be heard! PORT ORCHARD — A jury has acquitted 54-year-old Bruce Olson on one count of manufacturing marijuana and one count of possession of marijuana with intent to deliver.

Olson, who had a card from the state allowing him to use marijuana for medicinal purposes, was arrested in May 2007 by detectives with the West Sound Narcotics Enforcement Team, who contended that he had marijuana than state law allowed.

The jury deliberated between two and three hours between Monday and Tuesday before returning the verdict.

Olson said he had to sell his home to fund his defense. He and his wife, Pamela, live in a travel trailer.

"But it's worth it for the cause: Quit arresting medical marijuana patients," he said after the verdict.

Kitsapsun.com will update this story later today.

Source: http://www.kitsapsun.com/news/2009/mar/24/jury-acquits-south-kitsap-man-...

United States: Washington State Marijuana Trial on National Stage

Thousands are anxiously watching the case against a retired stone mason as they move into closing arguments.

By Bonnie King, Salem-News.com

(PORT ORCHARD, Wash.) - Thirty or so miles outside Tacoma, Washington, in Kitsap County there has been a storm brewing. It's been coming for almost two years, and for the last two weeks, the force of the impact has been hitting the courtroom, but hard.

Kitsap County may not be a place that every one is acquainted with, and after you read this story, it may indeed be one of the last places you ever want to visit.

Though we generally accept that people are hard working, honest and congenial throughout the Pacific NorthWest, it so happens that the very core of the Kitsap County government has displayed none of those considerable attributes.

The majority of Washingtonians voted together in 1998 for the health and safety of its ill residents. Supporting the medical use of marijuana was not a hard choice for most, and the state has adjusted very well overall to bringing these sick patients into the fold.

Contrary to these ideals seems to be one particular man: Kitsap County Prosecutor Russ Hauge (pronounced howgy). His opinion of the thousands of legal medicinal use patients seems to be nothing less than disapproval.

The story goes like this:

Washington State: Kitsap County v. Bruce Olson - Kitsap County Prosecutor’s Vendetta Against Medical Marijuana Patient

Kitsap County prosecutors begin their trial to imprison medical marijuana patient Bruce Olson. All concerned Washington citizens are invited to bear witness to this circus of horrors.

By Michael Bachara, Hemp News Staff

There is a truth that must be heard! Dear President Obama,

Governor Chris Gregoire, Washington

Alison Holcomb, Drug Policy Director WA ACLU,

Allen St. Pierre, Director, NORML

and all compassionate individuals,

Re: Bruce Olson v. Kitsap County

First, thank you for reading this letter; I understand your time is important. I am a concerned medical marijuana patient from Oregon, who has witnessed a great injustice to Bruce Olson and his entire family (Bruce Olson v. Kitsap County), and wanted to alert you to the deviant tactics being played by Kitsap County Deputy Prosecutor Alexis Foster, as well as ask for your help in this matter.

After reading about the case for months, and since I too am a medical marijuana patient, I decided to make the 200 mile trip to Kitsap County to show a fellow patient support. This case struck a chord with me because of the injuries involved to the family’s black Labrador dogs in carrying out the raid by the members of the WestNET drug task force, and also because the prosecution is full of deceit.

Washington State: Report Finds Marijuana Prohibition Is Not Achieving Goals

By Alison Holcomb, Drug Policy Director WA ACLU

There is a truth that must be heard! A report issued by two University of Washington researchers finds that laws criminalizing marijuana are not achieving their goals. The report concludes that arresting, prosecuting, incarcerating, and seizing the property of people who commit marijuana-related offenses doesn't reduce use. And lessening or removing penalties doesn't increase it.

"The report finds that the 'war on marijuana' is quite costly in both financial and human terms, and the prohibition of marijuana has not measurably reduced its use. This is a clear call for us to reconsider our laws and policies on marijuana," says Alison Holcomb, ACLU of Washington drug policy director.

The report, "The Consequences and Costs of Marijuana Prohibition," was produced by Katherine Beckett and Steve Herbert, associate professors in the University of Washington's Law, Societies, and Justice Program. Beckett and Herbert analyzed data and conducted in-depth interviews in order to compare the fiscal, public safety, and human costs of current marijuana policy against marijuana's price, potency, availability and use. The report was commissioned by the ACLU of Washington.

Washington State: Lawmakers Considering Decreasing Pot Penalty

By BRIAN SLODYSKO, Associated Press Writer

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Civil liberties groups, medical marijuana supporters and a smattering of music festival-goers may have reason to rejoice: The Legislature is considering a proposal that would effectively decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.

A bill proposed by Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, would reduce the penalty for possessing marijuana in quantities of 1.4 ounces or less to a civil infraction carrying a $100 fine.

"Marijuana has been demonized and has been demonized in such an overboard manner," Kohl-Welles said Tuesday.

Currently, possession of small amounts of the leafy drug is a misdemeanor offense, warranting arrest and carrying the possibility of punishment with fines and jail time.

If Kohl-Welles' bill is approved, possession of marijuana would no longer be an offense subject to arrest. However, teenagers younger than 18 would still be subject to current law.

The Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony on the bill Tuesday.

"Marijuana is less addictive than alcohol, tobacco or caffeine," said former state Rep. Toby Nixon, R-Kirkland, testifying before the committee. "The most dangerous thing about marijuana is the possibility of getting arrested for its possession... I don't think it's the devil weed that many say that it is."

Civil liberties groups support the measure, saying law enforcement officers should focus on more serious crimes.

Washington: Retired Seattle Police Chief Says Obama Should Listen to Voters

By Norm Stamper, Salem-News.com

In early December, Barack Obama invited Americans to participate in an unprecedented, bottom-up approach to government. Visitors to the President-elect’s official website, Change.gov, were able to submit questions and vote on which questions should take priority for the new administration.

More than a dozen of the top 50 questions called for amending America’s drug policies, with inquiries ranging from availability of doctor-recommended medical marijuana to the economic impact of continuing to arrest and incarcerate millions of people for drug offenses.

Source: http://salem-news.com/articles/december302008/leap_opinion_12-30-08.php

[Salem-News.com Medical Marijuana]

Washington: Busted - Police raids, illegal drug deals and some very sick people: Washington’s medical marijuana law marks 10 years

By Nicholas Deshais, Pacific Northwest Inlander, STAFF WRITER

The first step for patients, before drug deals in parking lots or secretive meetings in a church, is to get permission to use cannabis from one special source: a doctor.

Doctors are protected under state law to provide these authorizations, but they walk a thin line. Without precautions, doctors can find themselves testifying before a court on the merits of marijuana, something many doctors would prefer to avoid... Read the Full Story

Source: http://www.inlander.com/content/newscommentary_%E2%80%94_washingtons_leg...

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