Posts tagged: recreational marijuana
OLYMPIA — Changes to last year's recreational marijuana law that a sponsor says will make it more workable will get a hearing next week in a House committee
Rep. Christopher Hurst, D-Enumclaw, wants to shrink the distance restrictions for locating stores that sell marijuana and have the state sell store licenses at market rates to raise more money.
Under Initiative 502, a store selling recreational marijuana must be at least 1,000 feet from schools, parks and other institutions. That would so severely restrict possible locations that large areas of cities would be closed off, Hurst said. Spokane might have as few as nine locations where a store could be located, he said.
His proposal would change the restriction to 500 feet, which is currently the restriction for liquor stores.
“If we don't make it available, the criminal market is going to fill those gaps,” he said.The goal of I-502 is to drive the illegal market for marijuna out of the state, he added.
I-502 also sets a licensing fee of $1,000 for a marijuana store. Hurst's bill would allow the state Liquor Control Board to set a market value on the right to sell marijuana, which could be much higher, depending on the location. The right to set up a store in a high-end shopping mall should be worth more than the right to set up a storefront operation in a small town, he said.
He estimated the market certificate system could raise as much as $50 million for the state's general operating fund.
The bill is scheduled for a hearing next Tuesday in Hurst's Government Overssight and Accountability Committee. Because it contains potential tax revenues that could help the budget, it does not face impending deadlines to be passed by one chamber or the other to remain viable.
But it will require two-thirds approval in both chambers, because it seeks to change a successful initiative less than two years after it was passed by voters.
OLYMPIA — Forums on the state's new legalized marijuana law are proving so popular that the state agency sponsoring is adding to its schedule and in some cases finding bigger venues to handle the expected crowds.
The State Liquor Control Board also moved one forum to Tacoma after a legislator wondered why the state's second largest county was being ignored, and its residents were having to drive to Seattle or Olympia to have their say.
The Liquor Control Board originally scheduled six forums around Washington to discuss how the state should set up legailzed production, processing and sale of marijuana after the approval last November of Initiative 502. Among its forums is a Feb. 12 Spokane event; it's still starts at 6 p.m. in the City Council Chambers, 808 W. Spokane Falls Blvd.
Forums in Olympia and Seattle attracted overflow crowds, so the board changed to larger locations for the forums scheduled in Mount Vernon, Yakima and Vancouver. It added a forum for March 7 in Bremerton.
Today the board announced it is moving a second forum planned for Olympia to Tacoma on Feb. 21, and holding it in the Convention Center.
At a recent legislative hearing for the board to explain the work being done to set the rules for growing and selling a federally illegal substance legally in Washington, Sen. Randi Becker, R-Eatonville, asked why no forum had been scheduled anywhere in Pierce County.
“I would formally request that you add that,” Becker said to Rick Garza, the control board's point man on preparing for legalized pot.
Three days later, the board announced a schedule change, an acknowledgement of Becker's logic or her position as chairwoman of the Health Care Committee. Or both.
OLYMPIA — Washington is in danger of having two different, and sometimes conflicting, marijuana laws, one for those who have it for medical uses and one for everyone else, legislators were told today.
The Senate Health Care Committee is considering a revision to the medical marijuana laws which would try again to clarify how the state would regulate the drug under a 1998 initiative. Among the questions, how does the state designate someone as a qualified patient, and how does that patient get marijuana now that a 2012 initiative says everyone can use small amounts of marijuana for recreational use.
Washington is the only state that has a medical marijuana law that does not also have some sort of state registry from patients who have some type of doctor's approval for using the drug. Senate Bill 5528 would require patients to have an authorization card on some type of tamper-proof paper, but no registry.
A registry, which would have a patient's name and address and could be made public, “could be just a roadmap for burglars,” Arthur West, a medical marijuana advocate, told the committee.
The State Liquor Control Board is setting up a system for marijuana to be grown, processed and sold in Washington under last year's Initiative 502. But the stores licensed by the control board will be separate from marijuana dispensaries that have sprung up to supply medical marijuana. And the 502 recreational marijuana will be taxed at a higher rate than medical marijuana.
“That's part of the mess we have right now,” Alison Holcomb, drug policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union-Washington, told the committee.
Medical marijuana advocates said any identification system for patients should be handled by the state Health Department, not the Liquor Control Board.
SB 5528 is the latest attempt to clear up the state's medical marijuana rules. A 2011 effort passed the Legislature only to be gutted by partial vetoes by Gov. Chris Gregoire as federal officials were cracking down on dispensaries. Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, who has sponsored many of the legislative attempts to bring clarity to the medical marijuana law, likened the process to the movie “Groundhog's Day” but said I-502 created a “huge change” that has to be addressed.
It's not enough to say medical marijuana patients can simply buy their drug from state-sanctioned recreational marijuna stores, she said. “Some people are not able to go to a store. They are very, very ill.”
Medical marijuana users are able to grow their own drugs, and have up to 24 ounces of it on hand. Recreational marijuana users cannot grow their own, and are limited to 1 ounce.
In Senate Joint Memorial 8000, the Legislature would ask the federal government to reclassify marijuana from a Schedule 1 drug, which means it has no legal use, to a Schedule 2 drug, which would allow it to be prescribed for certain medical conditions. That might help medical marijuana patients, but would have not provide any protections to recreational marijuana users.
Most people would agree that marijuana shouldn't be lumped with other Schedule 1 drugs like heroin and LSD, Kohl-Welles said.
But some marijuana advocates said the state should go farther. Catherine Jeter said the public doesn't need to be protected from marijuana: There is no need for rescheduling. Deschedule it.”