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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: Seattle Mayor's Medical Marijuana Dispensary Plan Gets Resistance

EdMurraySeattleMayor[TheSeattleTimes]

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: Seattle Mayor Plans Crackdown On Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

EdMurraySeattleMayor[TheSeattleTimes]

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: I-502 Author Urges Prosecuting, Shutting Down Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The author of Washington state's anemic marijuana legalization law I-502 is defending and even urging prosecution of medical marijuana dispensaries in Seattle.

Criminal defense attorney Alison Holcomb of the ACLU of Washington, who wrote Initiative 502, wrote a December 11 email to Seattle officials about their plans to create new rules for medical marijuana in the city, reports Heidi Groover at The Stranger.

“If escalation of sanctions were deemed appropriate, the city has authority to prosecute repeat license offenses as gross misdemeanors, initiate civil asset seizure and forfeiture, or even refer cases for felony prosecution,” Holcomb wrote in the email.

Seattle is looking for ways to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries; Holcomb's words were part of a chain of emails exchanged among city council members, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray's staff, and others, including Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes, who seems just as weirdly intent on eliminating dispensaries as is Holcomb.

Holcomb, like Holmes, purportedly opposes the dispensaries because they aren't regulated -- but she also opposes regulating them. She argued against a new licensing plan the mayor's office has floated for dispensaries, hoping to leave the coup de grace -- complete elimination of the shops -- to the Legislature in the upcoming session.

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