SB 5052

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

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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

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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: Youth Possession of Marijuana Now A Felony

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Three teens in southeastern Washington state have been charged with felonies for simple marijuana possession, with the prosecutor saying a new law specifies the higher level of offense for those under 21.

The teens, aged 14, 15 and 17, were charged in Asotin County with felonies that could get them up to five years in prison apiece, reports The Lewiston Tribune.

Previous to the passage of Senate Bill 5052 in this year's session of the Washington Legislature, the same offense was just a misdemeanor with a maximum 90-day sentence.

SB 5052 contains the new language specifying youth possession of marijuana a felony offense, according to Asotin County Prosecutor Ben Nichols.

SB 5052 sponsor Ann Rivers (R-La Center), who many activists believe is personally responsible for the de facto elimination of access to medical marijuana in Washington state, claims the tougher penalty was designed to deter minors from trying "an adult drug."

But the specter of kids once again being charged with felonies for pot -- a bad flashback to the 1960s and 1970s, which is once again playing out in small Washington towns, thanks to the state's badly flawed, laughably weak "legalization" -- is so embarrassing that even the Governor's office felt it necessary to distance themselves from the destruction.

Washington: Seattle Mayor Plans Crackdown On Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Apparently not content to wait for the scheduled extinction date of medical marijuana dispensaries in Washington -- set for July 1, 2016 -- Seattle Mayor Ed Murray on Tuesday proposed legislation that could shut down dozens of dispensaries in the city.

Mayor Murray's plan would create a new business license specifically for medical marijuana dispensaries and create enforcement priorities for unlicensed shops, reports Evan Bush at The Seattle Times.

The plan follows the Washington Legislature's attempts to "fold" medical marijuana into the state's recreational cannabis system established under I-502 and SB 5052. The latter law, approved last month, calls for the Washington State Liquor Control Board (which will be renamed the Liquor and Cannabis Board) to "assess the merit" of medical marijuana dispensaries are license those which qualify by July 2016.

The LCB still hasn't come up with the rules for grading medical marijuana dispensaries, and many observers believe the ultimate goal isn't to license the businesses anyway, but rather to shut almost all of them down. It's not yet clear how many additional licenses Seattle might get, or which businesses could get those licenses.

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!"

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