WSLCB

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Washington: Black Market Dealers Are Loving This State's Brand Of Legalization

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Washington state voters in 2012 voted to legalize recreational marijuana; when the first retail store opened in 2012, many hailed it as a great success for cannabis law reform. Now law enforcement authorities are preparing to close hundreds of medical marijuana dispensaries across the state in just two weeks, in a move sure to please black market dealers.

What in the world is going on here? Why are MEDICAL dispensaries, of all things, targeted for closure, when patients actually need their cannabis for medicine instead of just wanting it to get high, like the recreational users? Well, boys and girls, that would be because the wealthy investors who bought I-502 recreational marijuana business licenses "bought" the law they wanted by applying generous campaign contributions to their favorite legislators down in Olympia.

When their competition, i.e., the mom-and-pop medical marijuana dispensaries, cleaned their clocks on both price and quality -- not to mention the sense of community on the medical side, especially in the farmers' markets, and the real expertise they offered when it comes to addressing symptoms with specific strains -- the recreational stores literally had the competition outlawed.

Washington: UW To Host June 14 Conference on Marijuana Policy

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City and state officials, entrepreneurs, attorneys and others will come together June 14 for a day-long conference at the University of Washington on the future of marijuana policy in the state.

The event, co-hosted by the Cannabis Law and Policy Project and UW Professional & Continuing Education, will be held at the UW School of Law and feature 30-plus speakers. The day aims to provide a comprehensive look at current and future regulations governing the retail and medical marijuana industries in Washington and elsewhere.

The conference kicks off with an overview of state marijuana policy from Rick Garza, director of the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board, and a presentation from Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes on policy issues in the city.

Following a discussion about recent litigation in Washington’s marijuana industry and an open panel discussion, the event will break off into three afternoon tracks.

Washington: LCB Says Patients Can Grow 4 Plants Each, Up To 15 Per Household

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Multiple authorized medical cannabis patients living in the same residence in Washington state can grow up to four plants each, up to a total of 15 plants, without being on the patient registry, according to information received from the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board on Thursday.

In answers to a Washington state medical marijuana patient advocate, Brian E. Smith of the WSLCB clarified the home growing rules for patients in the state. Only medicinal patients with a physician's authorization are allowed to cultivate cannabis in Washington without an I-502 cultivation license.

A qualifying patient not entered in the medical marijuana authorization database (Washington's euphemism for a patient registry) is allowed to grow up to four plants and possess up to six ounces of useable marijuana in his or her domicile, according to the LCB. This possession limit is per patient (RCW 69.51A.210) (3)).

Washington: Board Revises Marijuana Rules; Product Returns Now OK

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

New rules from the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) released on Wednesday include now allowing marijuana retailers to accept any open product return with the original packaging.

The draft rules are necessary to implement SB 5052, 2015 legislation which "aligns the medical marijuana market with the existing recreational market" (by, in effect, subsuming the medicinal cannabis market into the recreational market, greatly reducing access for patients).

Under the rules timeline, a public hearing would be held May 4, with the Board being asked to adopt the rules on May 18. If adopted, the rules become effective June 18, prior to the availability of regulated medical marijuana products. The draft rules incorporate public comments received at seven public hearings across the state starting last fall.

“”These rules are based on extensive public input,” said Board Chair Jane Rushford. “The Board was diligent in listening and seeking practical input on its draft rules.

Highlights

Some highlights of the rule revisions include:

• Revised the definition of “licensed premises” to include all areas of a premises where the licensee has leasehold rights and any vehicle assigned to transport marijuana.

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 State Has First Cannabis Recall Due To Pesticides

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

While marijuana product recalls have seemingly become commonplace in Colorado, Washington state had seemed remarkably free of such problems -- until now. Washington-based Evergreen Herbal on Friday issued the state's first voluntary cannabis product recall due to pesticide concerns.

The recall is an indirect result of two producers, New Leaf Enterprises and BMF Washington, recently being investigated by the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) for using prohibited pesticides.

While the LCB did find prohibited pesticides on cannabis products from both companies and made them pay fines of $2,500 and suspend operations for 10 days, interestingly, BMF -- despite using no fewer than 12 prohibited pesticides -- was allowed to continue selling tainted flowers with a "warning label" after paying the fine. (All concentrates were destroyed upon orders of the LCB; the process of making concentrates also means higher levels of poison, as well as THC.)

Evergreen Herbal, clearly not wanting to end up like New Leaf and BMF, announced its voluntary product recall via press release on Friday, reports Graham Abbott at Ganjapreneur. The three products being recalled are the high-CBD edibles Hibiscus Quencher, Strawberry Quencher, and CBD Dark Chocolate 420 Bar; all three were, at one point, produced using Dama CBD oil, according to Evergreen.

Washington: Two Big Marijuana Growers Fined For Using Banned Pesticides

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Two of Washington state's largest legal marijuana growers last month were barred from all sales, pending an investigation into their illegal use of banned pesticides.

New Leaf Enterprises, makers of Dama Oil and the Dama line of products, and BMF Washington LLC, whose marijuana is used by brands including Liberty Reach and JuJu Joints, received orders to stop sales on December 29 and December 17, 2015, respectively, reports Tobias Coughlin-Bogue at The Stranger.

The investigations were prompted by third-party complaints, according to the documents. The stop sales weren't announced the the public, but rumors were rife in the industry that something had happened to New Leaf.

A public records request filed with the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) revealed that both New Leaf and BMF were nailed in pesticide investigations.

The WSLCB brought in Washington State Department of Agriculture pesticide experts including Erick Johansen, and in the case of New Leaf, also contracted Trace Analytics, the state's first lab able to do pesticide testing. (The Board in the past had dismissed pesticide residue testing as expensive and unnecessary.)

Washington: Cannabis Board Adopts New Rules; Bans Infused Products Requiring Cooking

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Following six public hearings held throughout the state, the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board on Wednesday voted to revise the draft rules to accommodate public input it received on its original draft rules.

The draft rules are necessary to implement SB 5052, 2015 legislation which "aligns" (actually, mostly subsumes) the medical marijuana market with the existing recreational market.

Under the revised rules timeline, a public hearing would be held Feb. 10, with the Board being asked to adopt the rules on Feb. 24. If adopted, the rules become effective March 24.

“We spent many hours listening to and reviewing public comment,” claimed Board Chair Jane Rushford. “Since the beginning, this has been an open and transparent process.

"Today’s revised rules reflect the Board’s continued commitment to transparency and the willingness to listen and make adjustments that may improve the rules,” Rushford claimed.

A year ago, the Board paid $192,000 to make public records gadfly Arthur West of Olympia go away, reported Gene Johnson of the Associated Press. West, known for filing records requests and complaints of open meetings law violations at various public agencies, accused the board of breaking the state's open meetings law as it began working on rules for the new legal marijuana industry.

Washington: Board To Increase Number Of Retail Marijuana Stores

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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: 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: 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: Save Medical Marijuana -- You Can Now Get R76 NO Signature Sheets At Any FedEx

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Medical marijuana dispensaries are slated for extinction in Washington state, thanks to the passage of SB 5052 by the Legislature. But the R76 NO campaign would head off 5052 at the pass, essentially nullifying the law through the voter referendum process.

The R76 NO campaign, representing as it does a way out of the death sentence imposed upon the medical marijuana community in Washington as we've known it for the past 17 years, is gaining a lot of support statewide, but one recurring question has been where supporters can get signature sheets so that they can help the referendum qualify for the November ballot. Due to the untiring efforts of Washington activist Don Skakie, medical marijuana supporters can now go to any full service FedEx location in the state and get printed, double-sided, 11x17 Referendum 76 signature sheets for just 12 cents each.

According to Skakie, all you have to do is ask for File Retrieval Code 2EE4248 under Account Discount #0589281101 to print the signature sheets. "We have been given permission to use this account from the Georgetown Cultural Arts Center," Skakie said. "YOU MUST PAY FOR THESE COPIES, but the activity will benefit the Center by helping them meet their annual minimum purchases to keep their account open at these prices. Go and do great things!"

Washington: Bogus I-502 Deadline Letter Alarms Legal Marijuana Store Applicants

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A number of I-502 applicants who want to run legal marijuana businesses in the state of Washington have been alarmed by a solicitation from a company about an impending universal February deadline, according to a Wednesday morning email from the Washington State Liquor Control Board.

The letter warns of the supposed impending deadline for applicants to "get set up" and that the Liquor Control Board will "no longer wait for your plan to come together."

"We have money and a location and resources are are local honest hard working successful business people looking for like-minded people," the solicitation letter reads. "We are not brokers or big venture capitalists nor are we promising that anyone will make millions in this new industry."

"Those licenses that held out hoping to come up with a plan later may actually lose out and your license could now be worthless," the letter claimed. "The WSLCB will no longer wait for your plan to come together or moratoriums being lifted, they have goals and must achieve them."

"WSLCB expected you to have your plans which included funds and a location ready when you applied and their patience is wearing thin," the solicitation letter goes on (evidently someone is practicing their "Scolding a Stoner" skills).

"This has caused some alarm among applicants and led to calls to the Liquor Control Board," Wednesday morning's email from the WSLCB reads. "Those claims are not true."

Washington: State Faces Serious Marijuana Shortage As Shops Prepare To Open

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

It's been almost a year and a half since Washington state voters approved Initiative 502, the limited marijuana legalization measure, in 2012. But there still isn't a single state-licensed cannabis store open in the state -- and once the shops finally open, presumably next week, Washington could then face a marijuana shortage.

What's wrong with this picture? How did Colorado get so much more right in implementing legalization than did the weed-friendly Evergreen State? Well, Colorado -- unlike Washington -- built its recreational marijuana infrastructure on the already existing medical marijuana system, rather than foolishly opting, as did Washington, to build an entirely new system from the ground up.

Wait a minute, you may be saying. That's just crazy. They had, in place, a system of retailing marijuana -- and proprietors experienced in doing so -- but they are completely eliminating that system and turning the business over to a new set of retailers? Yes, you're getting the idea -- and that has resulted in a bureaucratic nightmare, reports Jordan Larson at Vice.

Producers, processors and retailers have had trouble getting the necessary licenses and space to retail, warehouse, and grow cannabis.

Washington: Liquor Control Board Announces Lottery Process For Marijuana Store Licenses

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Washington State University and private sector audit firm to produce ordered lists of applicants

The Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB) on Wednesday approved staff’s recommendation for a lottery that will select the "apparent successful applicants" for marijuana retail licenses.

The independent, double-blind process will happen April 21-25, according to the WSLCB, and will produce a list of applicants that the agency will use to continue its retail licensing process. The agency said it expects to begin issuing retail licenses no later than the first week of July.

Initiative 502 directed the WSLCB to limit the number of marijuana retail stores by county. In its rules, the WSLCB limited the number of stores statewide to 334.

The most populated cities within each county are allotted a maximum number of stores, with the remainder at large within the county. The rules further state that if the WSLCB receives more applications for a jurisdiction than there are stores allocated, the state would use a lottery process for producing a ranked order of applicants.

Well, surprise, surprise: There are hella more prospective marijuana store applicants than there are licenses available. And many of the unsuccessful applicants are going to be quite upset, some of them after spending tens of thousands of dollars getting ready to go into the marijuana business. Expect a spate of bitter lawsuits on the horizon.

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: Liquor Control Board Limits Marijuana Licenses To One Per Applicant

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Board to limit individual production, will begin issuing producer and processor licenses soon

The Washington State Liquor Control Board (Board) on Wednesday approved staff’s recommendations to limit the number of individual marijuana producer licenses to one (from the previous limit of three) and initially limit production at 70 percent, clearing a path for the agency to begin issuing producer and processor licenses.

“Today’s Board action clears an obstacle and allows the agency to begin issuing marijuana producer and processor license in the coming weeks,” said Board Chair Sharon Foster. “We believe this is the most fair and equitable way to get the market up and running.”

Single Production License Limited to 70 Percent

In its enforcement guidelines issued August 29, 2013, the U.S. Department of Justice required states to ensure a tightly regulated and controlled market to prevent diversion of product to other states, sales to minors and other concerns.

The Board used available consumption data supplied by its consultant, BOTEC Analysis Corporation, to craft production limits in its rules to meet initial consumer demand without over-supplying. The rules are based on BOTEC’s input that the state can capture just "13 to 25 percent of the overall market in the first year of recreational sales."

"Additional production is likely necessary for the state to capture an increasing percentage as the market refines and matures," the Board drily noted. "Agency rules allow for flexibility to meet an evolving controlled market."

Washington: Study Says State Marijuana Users Smoked 6 Million Ounces In 2013

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Washington state marijuana users smoked more than 6 million ounces of pot this year, according to an official government study.

The RAND Corp. study, aimed at figuring out how much cannabis is smoked by heavy users on a typical day, was released on Wednesday. A team of researchers calculated that the Evergreen State's roughly 750,000 marijuana users will have consumed between 135 and 225 metric tons of weed in 2013, reports Gene Johnson at the Associated Press.

The team came up with the median figure of 175 metric tons, which is 6 million ounces, enough for about 340 million half-gram joints, or 170 million the way I roll 'em.

According to the RAND study, "Before the Grand Opening," half the weed in the state is consumed in just its three most populous counties: King County (which includes Seattle) uses about 30 percent of Washington's marijuana, while Pierce to the north and Snohomish to the south smoke about 11 percent each.

Washington: BioTrackTHC Named State's Legal Marijuana Tracing System

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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.

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