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Spin Control

Posts tagged: Initiative 502

Pot store lottery at the end of April

OLYMPIAWashington will announce the winners of licenses for its first legal recreational marijuana stores at the beginning of May, after a complicated “double-blind” lottery is held at the end of this month.

The first legal sales aren’t likely until the beginning of July, after the lottery winners complete construction, pass final inspection and get their products from state-licensed marijuana farms. . . 

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, click here to continue inside the blog.

Pot possession prosecutions plummet

OLYMPIA — Prosecutions of adults for misdemeanor possession of marijuana have practically dropped off the charts since the passage of Initiative 502, the ACLU of Washington said today.

Data from the Administrative Office of the Court says there were 7,964 such prosecutions in 2009. That had dropped to 5,531 by 2012, when voters approved I-502, which legalized private use of marijuana for recreational purposes for those 21 and over.

Last year, there were 120 cases. That's about 98 percent less.

“The data strongly suggest that I-502 has achieved one of its primary goals – to free up limited police and prosecutorial resources. These resources can now be used for other important public safety concerns,”  Mark Cooke, Criminal Justice Policy Counsel for the ACLU of Washington, said in a press release. 

First pot grower’s license goes to Spokane’s Sean Green

OLYMPIA – Sean Green's big plans for a nationwide manufacturing and sales empire got a boost today when the Spokane native got Washington's first license to grow legal marijuana.

Green, who operates medical marijuana dispensaries in Spokane and Shoreline, will begin growing recreational marijuana Thursday in a new facility at E. 1919 Francis.

The former real estate appraiser got into the medical marijuana business after the housing market crashed. On Wednesday, the state Liquor Control Board said Green did the best job of some 4,700 applications from would-be pot entrepreneurs at filling out forms, passing inspections and otherwise meeting requirements for a license to grow and process marijuana. The board awarded him the first license issued under Initiative 502 in a ceremony part patriotic oration and part Chamber of Commerce pep talk.

“Freedom is what brought us here today,” he told a packed hearing room and a half-dozen television cameras. “This program is a testament to what we can achieve in our country if we are persistent enough… Cannabis prohibition is over” . . . 

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Liquor Board sets new pot-growing limits

UPDATE: OLYMPIA — Faced with far more people wanting to grow legal marijuana than state rules would allow, the Liquor Control Board upped the amount of land that can be planted to the drug by more than five-fold. But it also put some new restrictions on would-be growers.

The board agreed Wednesday to limit applicants to one grower license per business entity, cutting down on the multiple requests some new marijuana entrepreneurs have turned in for as many as three grower licenses. It also reduced the amount of land all requests will be allowed to plant by 30 percent.

“We are going to do this right,” Board Chairwoman Sharon Foster said. “The Department of Justice is not going to have anything to complain about for the state of Washington.”

The board’s decision came as the state’s fiscal analysts made their first estimates of legal marijuana’s boost to state coffers – a possible $51 million bump in tax revenue from recreational sales – and the Legislature continued to examine ways to merge the separate existing medical marijuana system with the untried recreational system. . . 

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No pot sellers on Google, TIME says

One more obstacle for Washington's budding marijuana industry to confront: You won't be able to advertise on Google or Facebook.

That according to TIME, which says that even in Washington and Colorado, where recreational marijuana use is legal, Google and Facebook will not allow sellers to advertise their wares.

Washington's new regulations on recreational marijuana have strict rules for standard advertising like signage for stores but Internet advertising isn't mentioned in the regs.

AG’s opinion on cities, counties banning pot businesses

OLYMPIA – Cities and counties can say no to recreational marijuana businesses even though Washington voters have said yes, Attorney General Bob Ferguson said Thursday.

In a formal attorney general's opinion responding to questions from the Liquor Control Board, Ferguson and his staff said Initiative 502 doesn't pre-empt a local government's right to approve extra restrictions or outright bans to businesses that want to grow, process or sell the drug. The state Constitution gives cities and counties broad authority to control activities inside their borders unless a law specifically pre-empts that.

I-502, as written and passed by voters in, didn’t. . . 

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

To read the opinion, click on the document below.


Documents:

Daily Show tweets about WA pot biz rush

As reported earlier this week in Spin Control:

OLYMPIA — Washington is seeing a green rush of sorts in marijuana, with far more people wanting to grow and sell the drug legally than the state will allow.

Demand high for pot licenses

Applications for marijuana stores in Spokane County

Applications for marijuana growing licenses in Spokane County

OLYMPIA — Washington is seeing a green rush of sorts in marijuana, with far more people wanting to grow and sell the drug legally than the state will allow.

State agencies will approve no more than 334 licenses for retail marijuana stores and they already more than 2,000 applicants. Would-be pot entrepreneurs also have proposed planting many times more land than the will allow for its newest cash crop. . . 

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Pot applications continue to pour in

Applications for marijuana stores in Spokane County

OLYMPIA — Washington has many times more people who want to sell or grow marijuana that the state will allow, and all the applications have yet to be processed.

The Washington Liquor Control Board today released the names and addresses of some 6,600 businesses that have applied for licenses to produce, process or sell recreational marijuana under the law voters passed in November 2012.

The 2,035 applications for retail marijuana stores is about six times more than the 334 retail licenses that board said will be approved for Washington. After all of the applications are examined to make sure they comply with rules for obtaining any required local permits and have locations that are at least 1,000 feet from schools, parks, playgrounds or other areas mainly for children, the board will hold a lottery in each county or city that has more applications than the number allocated.

The Spokane area has nearly eight times more requests for retail licenses than the 18 allocated. Under board rules, the city of Spokane can have eight marijuana stores, the city of Spokane Valley can have three and all other areas of the county can have seven. 

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

Liquor Board would limit medical marijuana

Washington should severely cut the amount of marijuana that medical patients can possess, require them to register with the state, have annual medical checkups, and pay most of the same taxes as recreational users, a state agency recommended today.

In a move sure to draw fire from the medical marijuana community, the state Liquor Control Board released recommendations it will send to next year's Legislature as the state tries to blend two sets of laws on the drug.

The board is authorized by Initiative 502 to regulate recreational marijuana use, and is currently accepting applications for businesses that want to grow, process or sell the drug to adults for private use. The board has no authority over medical marijuana, which was approved by voters in 1998, and is largely unregulated.

As part of the 2013-15 general operating budget earlier this year, the Legislature directed the board to work with the state departments of Health and Revenue to study the two systems and come up with recommendations to integrate them. Legislators will still have to draft bills that would include some or all of the recommendations, and get them through the two chambers and signed by Gov. Jay Inslee.

For more information on the board's recommendations, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

Pot store applications growing

 

Washington has received 230 license applications for recreational marijuana stores.

As the map shows, many are concentrated between Everett and Tacoma — no surprise because that's where the state's population is concentrated. But the proposals for stores are also starting to dot the rest of the state, and Spokane County has nine, half of the allotment the Liquor Control Board has set aside.

Businesses have until Dec. 19 to apply for a license to grow, process or sell recreational marijuana under Initiative 502. 

For an enlargeable map that has names and addresses of would-be marijuana stores, click here

Pot businesses: 299 applications in first six hours

OLYMPIA — Would-be marijuana entrepreneurs began Monday filing applications for state licenses to grow, process or sell recreational marijuana.

In the six hours after the state Department of Revenue's web site began taking applications, 299 had been filed online and the non-refundable fee of $250 had been paid, a spokeswoman said. The department didn't have totals available for the full day, or a count of the number of people who filed applications in person at one of its offices, Beverly Crichfield said.

Of the applications that were filed:

— 151 were for people who wanted to both grow and process marijuana
— 70 were retail applications
— 62 were processor applications
— 16 were grower applications

The department's web site, which began taking applications at 8 a.m. Tuesday for the state's 30-day window, can take applications round the clock, Crichfield said. The applications are forwarded to the state Liquor Control Board for processing and review.

Recreational marijuana was legalized for adults in Washington state by voters in the 2012 general election. State officials have been working for the last year to develop rules and regulations for the new businesses, even though marijuana remains illegal under federal law.

 State officials say they expect to award licenses early next year, and state-licensed stores with marijuana grown under the new law are expected to be open by June.

The board plans to post the names of applicants starting next week, Crichfield said.

Pot biz applications open Monday

Sam Calvert has a dream of getting in on the ground floor of a historic change in retail commerce that begins Monday. But it’s a struggle, he acknowledged.

“This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” said Calvert, 50, who has managed commercial real estate and worked as a consultant for business startups.

He knows the three most important factors for a business are “location, location, location,” but as of late this week was without a lease. He has yet to find a bank that will accept his commercial account. For most businesses he counsels, their start up difficulty is a 2 or a 3 on scale of 1 to 10. His start up is “at least a 9, maybe a 10.”

The business Calvert wants to start? Green Star, a retail outlet for recreational marijuana sales…

 

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Proposed pot store rules change again

OLYMPIA — Under pressure from the federal government, the state agency trying to develop regulations for legal marijuana stores is again changing a rule regarding how far they must be from schools and playgrounds.

Stores selling recreational marijuana to adults must be at least 1,000 feet away from those and some other facilities, as measured in a straight line between the boundaries of the two properties,

Last week, in announcing the latest round of rule changes that put limitations on businesses that would grow, process or sell marijuana,  the Washington State Liquor Control Board tentatively approved a rule that would measure that 1,000 feet along “the most common path of travel”. It was the system the board used for liquor store licenses, and could have resulted in stores being closer to schools.

U.S. attorneys for Eastern and Western Washington earlier this week warned Gov. Jay Inslee that they would enforce the straight-line standard, sometimes called “as the crow flies.” A recent memo from the U.S. Justice Department that is seen as allowing Washington to try developing a legal marijuana system as approved by state voters listed failing to keep the drug away from minors as one of the things that could cause its agents to enforce federal laws, which still list it as an illegal drug for all uses. 

Rick Garza, agency executive director, said the board used the emergency rule process for the change so potential applicants would know about it as they look for locations and prepare to seek licenses, which might be available in mid-November.

In adopting the previous change to the “common path” method of measuring distance last week, board members said they were opening up more potential areas for stores in some cities. Garza said Friday he didn't know how the latest change would effect the number of potential locations, but said cities shouldn't be worried because the number of stores will be strictly limited. The straight line method will be easier to measure and verify, he added.

The board will hold two hearings on the changes it tentatively adopted last week, including one at 6 p.m. Oct. 9 at the Spokane Convention Center.

Legal marijuana likely available next June

OLYMPIA — Anyone waiting to legally buy recreational marijuana in Washington will have to wait about nine months longer.

Revised regulations given tentative approval Wednesday for a system to license, inspect and track the drug would probably get the first lawfully grown and processed marijuana into state-licensed stores by June 1, some 20 months after voters legalized it with Initiative 502.

For those a bit bummed about the wait, this may be a bit of consolation: There could be 334 stores operating by then, as many as 18 in Spokane County.

But only if cities and counties that have adopted moratoria on marijuana businesses within their boundaries drop their objections.

The Washington State Liquor Control Board approved another round of changes to regulations it has been crafting since last December to grow, process and sell marijuana. It will hold hearings in early October in Spokane and Seattle, and if nothing else comes up, give the 43 pages of rules a final OK on Oct. 16.

 The proposed rules limit the overall size of the state’s marijuana crop, the number of licenses anyone can hold and amount of the drug the licensees can have on hand. . .

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Holder asked to explain pot policy to Senate

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is being asked to explain to a Senate committee his department's policy toward Washington and other states that have legalized some form of marijuana consumption.  

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., wants Holder to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Sept. 10 to clarify the federal response for Washington and Colorado, which have legalized the recreational use of marijuana for adults, and for the 20 states and the District of Columbia which have legalized medical marijuana.

Afther Washington and Colorado voters passed state laws legalizing recreational marijuana use last November, Leahy asked the Obama administration what it planned to do about enforcement policies and “what assurances the administration can give to state officials responsible for the licensing of marijuana retailers to ensure they will not face criminal penalties for carrying out their duties under those state laws,” he said Monday in a prepared statement.

State laws should be respected, Leahy said. “At a minimum, there should be guidance about enforcement from the federal government.”

Gov. Jay Inslee and State Attorney General Rob Ferguson met with Holder in January, asking what the federal government's response would be to Washington's legalization of marijuana. They have yet to get an answer, and Ferguson said last week he had “no additional knowledge” of what the federal response would be. The state is preparing rules for people who want to obtain licenses to grow, process and sell marijuana legally.

The attorney general's office “continues to prepare for the worst case scenario, which would be litigation” if the federal government tries to stop that, Ferguson said.

State delay of marijuana rules likely

OLYMPIAWashington should revise its proposed rules to grow and sell recreational marijuana and delay adopting them by a couple of months, the staff of a state board recommended Tuesday.

The Washington State Liquor Control Board was scheduled vote Wednesday on the final rules needed to begin setting up the legal marijuana industry called for in last year’s successful voter initiative. But less than 24 hours before the meeting, the board’s staff urged a rewrite of the rules significant enough to require more review, and at least one more public hearing.

Among the rules the staff proposes adding are limits on the total production of legal marijuana in the state and the number of stores where the drug could be sold…

 

 

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Legal pot rules criticized

OLYMPIAWashington’s proposed rules for growing and selling recreational marijuana were conflict with federal drug laws and state environmental laws, critics said Wednesday.

 

They would make the end product to be smoked or eaten too expensive from taxes, some said. They might favor the big corporations over the small producers, said others.

 

The Washington State Liquor Control Board, which is drafting rules to implement Initiative 502, is trying to get a final version of laws by mid September to start taking license applications from prospective retailers, processors and producers by October. Some cities and counties are balking…

 

 

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The Washington State Liquor Control Board holds its final hearing on the latest draft of rules to grow, process or sell recreational marijuana in Spokane on Thursday at 6 p.m. at the Spokane Convention Center.

Sunday Spin: How nonsignificant is legal marijuana

OLYMPIA – As Washington develops rules for its new recreational marijuana industry, even the most casual observer might be hard pressed to argue this change isn’t significant.

We’re going to declare a truce in one theater of the War on Drugs, after all, and pull out of a long-standing alliance with Uncle Sam.

We’re going to let folks grow and sell pot if they follow a long list of rules and regs, file their paperwork, keep kids away from the plants in the fields and the brownies in the stores. And pay their taxes, of course, even if they have to hire armored cars to haul stacks of slightly aromatic bills into the Department of Revenue office.

So it may surprise some that the Washington State Liquor Control Board last month filed a “Determination of Nonsignificance”, or DNS, for the new system of rules it is putting together for legal marijuana. . . 

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On marijuana, some questions are new. Some aren’t

LIFE magazine

Last week's Spin Control blog was admittedly a little light on content because I was working on Sunday's story about the trials and tribulations of getting Washington's recreational marijuana system up and running.

One of the more interesting interviews was with Mike Steenhout and Brian Smith of the Washington State Liquor Control Board. Steenhout is in charge of all the research the board needs to do to develop the rules and regs, and Smith is their chief spokesman.

Steenhout has collected an array of marijuana-related items and publications during the months he's been making an extensive study of the industry. Among them, on the table in his office,  was the Oct. 31, 1969 edition of LIFE magazine with the above cover, showing that folks have been asking the “Should it be legalized?” question for a long time. 

To read the story, or to comment, go inside the blog.

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About this blog

Jim Camden is a veteran political reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Jonathan Brunt is an enterprise reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Kip Hill is a general assignments reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Nick Deshais covers Spokane City Hall for The Spokesman-Review.

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