liquor and cannabis board

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Washington: Pot Harder For Kids To Buy Than Booze, Cigarettes Despite Falling Prices

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Washington state agents recently learned that minors may have a slightly easier time buying booze or cigarettes than pot at state-licensed stores.

State agents doing checks for all three restricted products say that licensed marijuana stores passed tests for selling to underage buyers 90 percent of the time. The compliance rate was slightly less in stores that sell liquor, at 86 percent. The compliance rate for tobacco sales was slightly lower than that, according to Justin Nordhorn, enforcement chief for the Liquor and Cannabis Board, which oversees all three products.

The state currently has more than 1,200 licensed growers and processors and 462 licensed marijuana stores, according to Board Director Rick Garza. In the fiscal year that ended June 30, it recorded almost $1 billion in sales. For the current fiscal year, that’s expected to hit $1.3 billion, even though the price of marijuana is falling.

When state-licensed marijuana stores first opened in 2014, pot was selling for about $30 a gram, he said. The current price averages $8.61 a gram.

The board's staff continues to develop regulations as the industry grows. In January the state Agriculture Department will begin spot testing marijuana for pesticides. In February, marijuana edibles will be required to carry a red sticker with a hand that says: "Not For Kids."

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: 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: 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: Tipping Now Allowed In Marijuana Stores

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

If you know a particularly good budtender at a recreational marijuana store in Washington state, you can now legally show your appreciation by adding a little greenery to the scenery.

Monetary tipping of budtenders wasn't allowed in Washington recreational marijuana stores until Monday, March 14, when the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) revised its policy, effective immediately.

"The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) has received several inquiries asking about the practice of bud tender tip jars," Deputy Chief Steve D. Johnson said in an email under LCB letterhead. "In response, the LCB has reviewed their position and this bulletin is to clarify the policy on allowable tipping."

"Tipping has not been an allowable practice in a licensed retail marijuana location," the email reads. "This position was adopted based on an interpretation of RCW 69.50.357, and indications that prices of products were being manipulated based on the size of a tip to avoid paying excise tax.

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: Marijuana Sharing Law Passes House

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

When Washington state's marijuana legalization law, I-502, passed, it didn't take long until folks figured out it is the most badly written "legalization" law yet passed. It's so badly written, in fact, that under this purportedly "progressive" legislation, it's a felony to pass a joint to your significant other.

Since the people of Washington apparently didn't read the damn thing before they passed I-502, seemingly not making it past "legalization" and thinking "how bad could THAT be?", it now falls upon the hapless Washington Legislature to fix the mess -- and that's pretty damn scary to anyone who knows just how clueless is that body of lawmakers when it comes to cannabis.

But they get points for trying, at least when it comes to the sharing issue. House Bill 2494, "An act relating to penalties for marijuana offenses," on Monday passed the Washington House on a 73 to 24 vote, and has been referred to committee in the Senate, reports Jake Ellison at the Seattle PI.

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: Seattle City Attorney Promises Crackdown On Black Market Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Marijuana legalization gets rid of the black market, and makes it obsolete, right? Wrong, if your legalization law is written as badly as Washington state's.

I-502, the clunky cannabis legalization measure, was made even worse by SB 5052; last year, that execrable piece of legislation assisted the original measure in completing a coup de grace on medical marijuana dispensaries and farmers markets in the state.

The onerous taxation scheme and miles of red tape forced upon marijuana retailers by state rules -- along with a healthy dose of old fashioned greed -- mean that, ironically enough, cannabis costs more in legal marijuana stores than on the black market, thus ensuring that the illegal market continues to flourish, even as the state desperately tries to prop up its anointed retailers by arresting their competition.

That's right: in the eyes of recreational marijuana retailers, not just black market dealers, but medical marijuana dispensaries and farmers markets represent unwelcome competition. You can really see their point when you realize that I-502 store prices average roughly twice the going rate in dispensaries and three times that in farmers markets.

Most patients are on limited incomes as they struggle with chronic illness, and the I-502 store prices, along with the 37 percent tax, makes medicine just about unaffordable.

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: Seattle Mayor's Medical Marijuana Dispensary Plan Gets Resistance

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray's proposal for licensing medical marijuana dispensaries has run into opposition from some shop owners in the city who'd be zoned out of existence under the plan.

The mayor's proposal wouldn't allow Alex Cooley, a pioneer in medical marijuana in the city, to continue farming at his Sodo location, because it is too close to a child-care center, reports Bob Young at The Seattle Times.

"Why did I work voluntarily with the city to go through the front door, when all of my permits provide no value to me right now?" Cooley said at a Seattle City Hall meeting last week.

Cooley and other unhappy businesspeople at the meeting asked for changes in the mayor's plan to bring the city's longstanding, law-abiding medical marijuana dispensaries into compliance with the state's recreational marijuana system created by I-502.

The mayor's plan would reduce buffer zones between marijuana businesses and child-care centers and libraries from 1,000 feet to 500 feet; it would keep the 1,000-foot buffer in place for schools and playgrounds. It would also require pot stores to be at least 500 feet apart.

The plan would add 1,650 acres of available land in the city where legal marijuana stores could potentially locate. Some, including Cooley, believe the buffers should be further relaxed.

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: Suquamish Tribe Signs Retail Marijuana Compact With State

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) and the Suquamish Tribe on Tuesday signed what's being called the nation’s first state-tribal marijuana compact. The compact governs the production, processing, purchase and sale of marijuana on the Tribe’s land in Kitsap County.

The retail store will be located on Highway 305 next to Longhouse Texaco in Suquamish, Washington, and is expected to be open by November, the Tribe's communcation office reported, according to the North Kitsap Herald.

The 10-year agreement was made possible by legislation (HB 2000) enacted during the 2015 legislative session, according to the LCB. The signed compact moves next to Gov. Jay Inslee for approval.

“We believe that working closely with the Suquamish Tribe we can ensure a well-regulated marijuana market that protects the health and safety of Washington State citizens,” said Board Chair Jane Rushford. “This agreement is an excellent model for future compacts.”

The State recognizes the Suquamish Tribe as a sovereign nation and negotiated the agreement in lieu of licensure by the Board. Per the enacting legislation, a tribal tax equivalent to the state excise tax will be applied to sales to non-tribal customers on Suquamish tribal lands.

Washington: Top Marijuana Advisor Steps Down

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The bureaucrat who helped implement Washington state's recreational marijuana law -- and dismantle the state's medical marijuana program -- is stepping down.

Randy Simmons, deputy director of the Washington State Liquor Control Board, said this year's "difficult" legislative session played a factor in his decision, reports Bob Young at The Seattle Times.

Battles erupted as monied I-502 business investors lobbied the Washington Legislature to "fold" the state's medical marijuana industry into the recreational side; that happened, effectively channeling all patients through I-502 stores and shutting down access through medical dispensaries statewide. It was an unappetizing spectacle, with 502 merchants picking over the remains of the medical marijuana community, looking for more profits.

"It was a hard legislative session," Young complained, evidently feeling patients should have uncomplainingly been led down the primrose path of eliminating medical dispensaries. "I felt tired of all the battles going on."

Simmons, 63, is leaving his job at the Liquor and Cannabis Control Board at the end of August to take a senior administrator's job at the Washington Department of Revenue. He said he's looking forward to a less stressful job.

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.

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