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Charges dropped against ‘Kettle Falls Five’ patriarch due to health concerns

Larry Harvey, 71, will not stand trial for his involvement in the so-called "Kettle Falls Five" marijuana collective farm, a federal judge ruled Thursday.

Harvey, his wife, Rhonda Lee Firestack-Harvey, son Rolland Gregg and his wife, Michelle, as well as family friend Jason Zucker had all been charged in federal court with manufacturing and trafficking marijuana based on a raid of their home in rural Stevens County by federal authorities in August 2012. Investigators found more than 100 plants at their residence and ledgers indicating the family was paying trimmers to process their marijuana. Federal prosecutors say this is evidence the family was operating outside the state's Medical Use of Cannabis Act, opening them to prosecution under the federal Controlled Substances Act.

But lawyers for the group argued last week that Congress stripped federal prosecutors of their authority to seek jail time for medical marijuana growers operating under state law through its appropriations act passed in December. They also say state prosecutors should decide whether the group was acting in violation of state law, not the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Harvey's attorney, Rob Fischer, notified presiding U.S. District Court Judge Thomas O. Rice he would seek a dismissal for his client based on a diagnosis of terminal pancreatic cancer. A wheelchair-bound, bald Harvey said after the hearing he'd lost 70 pounds as a result of weekly chemotherapy treatments since his diagnosis last year. Earl Hicks, the assistant U.S. attorney prosecuting the case, indicated last week he would seek medical records to support dropping Harvey from the case.

That request was made official Thursday, when Rice approved the deal between Hicks and Fischer to dismiss the charges against Harvey. He will only attend the trial, currently set for next week, as a defense witness.

The defendants have sought a delay in that trial date to allow a ruling by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on a request for dismissal of all charges based on the Congressional action. But Hicks wants the case to move forward, with any appeal to come after the scheduled trial date, which is Monday.

Senate passes medical marijuana changes

OLYMPIA – Major changes to the state's medical marijuana passed the Senate after sponsors beat back a challenge to requirements for a patient database and a plea to let recreational users grow their own.

Medical marijuana stores would be regulated by the Liquor Control Board, which currently licenses recreational pot growers and sellers, under a bill drafted by La Center Republican Ann Rivers and Raymond Democrat Brian Hatfield. The agency would expand the number of licensed stores to meet the medical market, and current recreational marijuana stores could get an endorsement to sell special medical strains, which patients could buy without paying some of the heavy taxes on recreational pot.

The number of plants a patient could grow at home would be cut from 15 to six in most cases, although the number could go up with a doctor’s recommendation. Collective gardens, which some people blame for the explosion in unregulated dispensaries, would be severely restricted.

Reconciling the state's different recreational and medical marijuana laws is one of the major tasks in this year's Legislature, and Friday’s vote was the first on the floor of either chamber.

It passed on a bipartisan count of 36-11. But before that vote took opponents tried unsuccessfully to strip a requirement that all patients must be entered in a database maintained by the state Department of Health, and add a provision that recreational users could grow up to six plants at home, just like medical for their private use.

Current medical marijuana laws allow individuals to grow some plants for themselves, or as part of a co-operative. Recreational marijuana laws, however, do not allow for individuals to grow any plants at home, and instead restrict that use of the drug to tightly regulated production and sales overseen by the Liquor Control Board.

Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Wells, D-Seattle, said other states that have legalized recreational marijuana allow for a few plants to be grown at home, and allowing medical cooperatives to continue banning individual recreational growers “makes no sense.”

“We allow home-brewing for beer,” Kohl-Wells said.

But Rivers, R-La Center, said the initiative that voters approved for recreational marijuana in 2012 banned home grows. Legislators in Colorado, which also legalized recreational use, have told her they believed that state was wrong to allow people to grow marijuana at home, she added: “They said ‘It is a genie you can't get back in the bottle.’” 

She also defended the database for medical marijuana users, saying other states have some system for registering those patients.

Kohl-Wells got support from Sen. Brian Dansel, R-Republican in the fight to replace the database with a state-issued authorization card: “I think registries are a bad thing," Dansel said, adding that registries for some over-the-counter drugs are different because those drugs can be more harmful, but they aren't against federal law.

An amendment to replace the database with Department of Health issued authorization cards failed on a 21-26 vote, and several other amendments were defeated on voice votes. 

‘Greenlight’ takes top Spokane pot shop honors in January

Trent Avenue's "Greenlight" reported the most retail marijuana sales in Spokane County last month, according to numbers released Tuesday by the Washington State Liquor Control Board.

The shop at 10309 E. Trent Ave. reported $271,599 in sales for the 31-day period ending Saturday. It is the first time the store, opened in September, has led Spokane's I-502 stores in sales.

Marijuana sales in Spokane County, June '14 to January '15
E. Trent retailer Greenlight led sales of legal marijuana in Spokane County last month.

Greenlight's neighbor and last month's highest sales store, Sativa Sisters, reported the third highest sales of Spokane stores, with $254,179 in product sold. In total, 34 cents out of every dollar spent on legal marijuana in Spokane last month filled coffers on Trent Avenue.

Spokane's 10 retail marijuana stores sold a total of about $1.5 million in marijuana products last month, continuing the county's upward trend in revenue. The newest contributor to that total is 4:20 Friendly, a store that opened at the top of Sunset Hill on New Year's Eve.

"My goal was to open before the end of the year, come hell or high water," said Carol Ehrhart, who owns the store with her wife. The couple built the new store "from the ground up," Ehrhart said, and has been enjoying a younger customer base due to its location nearer Cheney than the other stores in town, she said.

"We're getting a little bit younger demographic," she said. "We're getting a lot of Eastern students, because we're close to the university."

The shop at 1515 S. Lewis is open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 10 a.m. to midnight Thursday through Saturday, and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. Ehrhart said the shop offers about 40 strains from 10 different growers, and has been looking to "break" new producers into an already bustling market.

"We're trying to pick some of the growers who haven't had a shot to get into the store yet," Ehrhart said.

Statewide numbers show producers reported the lowest sales in January since September of last year. State farmers reported $256,000 in sales last month, compared to an all-time high of $1.9 million in November. Earlier this month, The Associated Press reported several growers across the state were sitting on large amounts of marijuana they couldn't sell because of a glut in supply.

In an email, Washington Liquor Control Board spokesman Brian Smith said the organization has not analyzed any recent drop in prices, but officials have heard some growers are waiting to sell their product when prices tick up again.

WALeg Day 22: 18 pot bills rolled into HB 1461

OLYMPIA – A House panel rolled 18 different proposals to change Washington’s marijuana laws into a single wide-ranging bill Monday, hoping to address at least some problems with the state’s medical and recreational pot systems.

As currently written, the bill includes some contradictory provisions. Several sections restrict the ability of cities or counties can to ban recreational marijuana businesses in some sections; another bans all recreational pot and any medical form of the drug that doesn’t come in a pill.

“We will be making major changes to the marijuana laws here in Washington state,” Rep. Chris Hurst, D-Pierce County, said at the start of two days worth of hearings on the omnibus bill. “I am convinced that before the session is over there will be licenses for medical marijuana.”

Hurst, chairman of the House Commerce and Gambling Committee, said the many different proposals were joined into a single bill to avoid 18 separate hearings on the topic. Some ideas will be discarded and others will be changed, he predicted.

Medical marijuana, which currently is unlicensed and untaxed, would come under some form of state scrutiny, either from the Liquor Control Board, which oversees recreational marijuana, or the Department of Health because of its medicinal properties, or Department of Agriculture because it’s a new commodity.

Cities and counties might be able to ban both kinds of marijuana businesses, but only if voters approve. Local governments might be offered a share of the tax revenue the state collects on marijuana as a way to head off bans or moratoria; if they set up a ban, they might not get any pot tax money. They might also be able to adjust the distances those businesses must be located from some child-related facilities.

Some health and beauty products that contain chemicals from cannabis might go unregulated. The state might require patients to have a numbered “verification card” from their doctor, but the state database might not contain the patient’s identity. It might license businesses that deliver marijuana to consumers, which is currently illegal. It might set aside some money to fight illegal marijuana sales, and stiffen penalties for selling otherwise legal pot to minors, or smoking it in public.

Rep. Brad Klippert, R-Kennewick, generated some grumbling from a generally pro-marijuana crowd for his suggestion that all recreational marijuana be outlawed and medical patients be limited to pills.

“This is something we need to do for the safety of Washington citizens, especially children,” Klippert said.

On the flip side of the issue, Hurst said the state should consider auctioning to licensed growers and processors the marijuana seized from illegal operations. “It keeps us from destroying a product that has value…that’s a leftover from the war on drugs.”

Where pot businesses can locate in Liberty Lake

Yesterday, the Liberty Lake City Council voted to end its year-long moratorium on recreational marijuana businesses.

Potential business owners said the zoning codes that replaced the moratorium would render most of the small town of 8,000 people unavailable for I-502 development.

Liberty Lake Police Chief Brian Asmus released these maps this morning, which clarify where different marijuana businesses could locate:

RETAILERS

Retail locations in Liberty Lake

PROCESSORS

Processor locations in Liberty Lake

PRODUCERS

Producer locations in Liberty Lake

The maps rebut claims that only one parcel, just south of Interstate 90, would be allowed under the zoning codes passed yesterday evening. The red areas indicate zones where a marijuana business could locate, but they must be outside the blue 1,000 foot buffers.

Also today, Spokane area marijuana retailers reported receiving letters from the U.S. Army listing I-502 shops as "off limits" to military personnel.

Local pot shops receiving letters from the U.S. Army

A letter sent by the Armed Forces Disciplinary Control Board to area marijuana retailers tells them their stores are "off limits" to military personnel without evidence they'll refuse selling pot to men and women in uniform.

The letter, dated Jan. 21, can be seen in its entirety below:

Letter declaring marijuana shops off limits to military personnel

The military routinely identifies areas that are "off-limits" to its personnel. Joint Base Lewis-McChord, the source of the above letter, has a list of off-limits areas on its website. Fairchild Air Force Base does not have a similar list at its Web address.

The Associated Press reported Tuesday the letters were sent to 86 shops across the state. The letter requests that retail stores provide evidence to the board that marijuana will not be sold to members of the military within 30 days in order to lift the ban on service members at their shops.

Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, classified as a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act. There are nine retail stores open in Spokane County under I-502, the law that governs the rollout of the recreational marijuana industry in Washington.

 

Spokane County affirms marijuana zoning laws

Laws governing where retail marijuana businesses may locate within Spokane County became permanent Tuesday, with additional language warning growers they must adhere to clean air laws or face potential enclosure of their farms.

County commissioners voted unanimously in favor of an amendment to the zoning code that allows marijuana farms in certain rural areas, and at least 300 feet from the nearest residence. The law also carves out the industrial areas where processing and retailers may locate within unincorporated portions of Spokane County.

The approval comes several months after many county residents came forward and testified to a review commission about odor problems they were having with farms located next door. Spokane County Building and Planning Director John Pederson said much of the public testimony was in favor of the zoning codes, with 73 in favor of keeping the existing laws permanently and 14 testifying against them.

Added Tuesday to the law was a notification to potential marijuana businesses owners that they must conform to regulations outlined by the Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency, or face penalties that could include “completely enclosing the operation and recirculating ventilation air within the enclosure.” County Commissioner Al French, who chairs the Clean Air Agency’s board of directors, said the language serves as a reminder to business owners the repercussions they may face if they ignore nuisance odors leaving their property.

“We wanted to be able to say, at least the county’s going to provide notice to those getting in the business that you have to be good neighbors,” he said.

No public testimony was taken Tuesday.

WALeg Day 9: Bill would blend state’s 2 pot systems

OLYMPIA – Medical marijuana would come under some of the same licensing requirements as the recreational form of the drug but its buyers would pay fewer taxes under a plan to harmonize the state’s two pot systems.

Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Wells, D-Seattle, announced Tuesday the Comprehensive Marijuana Reform Act, one of several medical marijuana bills expected in this session, saying patients need certainty in the quality of the drug they are getting.

Her bill would give the state Liquor Control Board, which now controls recreational marijuana, in charge of licensing and regulating medical marijuana. Recreational stores could receive endorsements to sell the medical products, medical dispensaries with clean records would have an easy time receiving licenses and patients would not have to pay some of the high taxes for their products. Among other proposals in the bill:

Growers of medical marijuana would be subject to the same quality control and testing requirements as the recreational growers, who can’t use most chemicals to control pests and mold.

Adults in Washington would also be able to grow up to six plants in their home for either medical or recreational use.

Cities and counties that want to ban or restrict legal marijuana businesses would have to get voter approval.

Another bill, the Cannabis Patient Protection Act, by Sens. Ann Rivers, R-Vancouver, and Brian Hatfield, D-Raymond, is scheduled for a hearing later this week in the Senate Health Care Committee. Kohl-Wells said she expects the final proposal to pass the Legislature will have elements of both, but insisted “we’ve got to have a law passed this session.”  

Liquor Board replacements nominated

OLYMPIA — A retired state department official and a county prosecutor are Gov. Jay Inslee's picks to fill two openings on the state Liquor Control Board.

Inslee today nominated Jane Rushford, a former deputy director of the Department of Enterprise Services, to be the chairwoman of the board, and Kitsap County Prosecutor Russ Hauge as a board member.

Rushford has a long resume in state government that include acting director of the old Department of General Administration, senior policy adviser to the Department of Natural Resources and staff coordinator for the House of Representatives. Hauge has been elected county prosecutor five times since 1994, which Inslee said gives him the strongest public safety resume of any liquor board member in recent memory.

The three-member liquor board has a reduced role in its namesake commodity after voters decided to privatize the wholesale and retail liquor business. But it gained oversight of the state's recreational marijuana businesses in 2012 with the passage of I-502. 

Two of the three members of the board who shepherded the development of the recreational marijuana system, Sharon Foster and Chris Marr, are retiring this month. Rushford will replace Foster as chairwoman, which comes with a salary of  $56,990; Hauge will replace Marr as a board member, with a salary of $51,600.

‘Green Friday’ sales flat, Green Leaf leads local sellers last month

"Green Friday" may have prompted a surge of sales at local marijuana retailers, but more revenue was reported the day before Thanksgiving and earnings modestly increased from prior Friday rushes in November, according to numbers reported by the state's Liquor Control Board.

Statewide, legal pot shops made $157,686 on Friday, down significantly from Wednesday's total of more than $251,000. It appears shoppers wanted to stock up for the long holiday weekend, rather than brave the retail lines on America's largest shopping day of the season.

Still, most local store owners said they opened with lines out the door Friday, and the Liquor Control Board only reports total sales numbers, not how much marijuana was sold. Some retailers were offering strands at up to 20 percent off all weekend.

The state Liquor Control Board also released this week the total sales numbers for Spokane County's eight retailers in November. The first shop to open, Spokane Green Leaf, led the way with $236,900 in sales last month. Up-and-comer Cannabis & Glass, which was not open when the month began, sold $13,355 worth of marijuana in November. That was good enough to beat seven other shops statewide that reported sales last month, but was the least among the county's eight operating businesses.


A total of 74 marijuana businesses reported sales to the state last month. Source: Washington State Liquor Control Board.

In total, Spokane County's pot shops earned more than $1 million in sales, roughly 1/8 of the revenue statewide. Sales activity generated more than $252,000 in excise tax revenue for the state. Currently, tax funds from marijuana sales are pooled and spent throughout the state, a process some lawmakers and shop owners would like to see changed to keep tax money closer to home.

Saturday marks two years since the voter-approved Initiative-502 became law, kickstarting the legal marijuana industry in Washington state. Look for an overview of the nascent industry in this weekend's Spokesman-Review.

Local pot shops set plans for ‘Green Friday’

Owners of local marijuana shops hope to cash in on the biggest retail sales day of the year, an event many of the stores are calling "Green Friday."

Though state law dictates when the area's nine retail shops may open their doors (8 a.m.) and how much they can charge for marijuana (stores can't sell pot for less than they paid to acquire it from producers/processors), area store owners say they plan to extend their hours and offer discounts on items including edibles and J.R.R. Tolkein-inspired paraphernalia.

"If you buy a full ounce, we'll give you a free 15-inch Gandalf pipe," said Cristy Aranguiz, lead "budtender" at Cannabis & Glass, a shop that opened earlier this month in north Spokane. The glassware resembles the long pipe smoked by the wizard in Tolkein's classic Lord of the Rings series.

Check out this map of stores, their business hours for Friday and a brief description of the deals they plan to offer customers, and read more about the shops' specific plans inside the blog.

Spokane retail pot sales top $1.9 million

Legal marijuana operations in Spokane County are reporting more money from sales than any of the state’s other 38 counties — almost $3.6 million worth of sales from licensed growers, processors and recreational marijuana stores since sales began this summer.

Clark County’s two recreational marijuana stores are outselling the five spread around Spokane County. Vancouver’s two stores reported $2.7 million in sales since opening in July, which is more than the $1.9 million total for the stores in and around Spokane, Spokane Valley and Millwood. Both counties are ahead of King County, which has three stores open in Seattle and one in Bellevue that combined for a total of $1.4 million in sales.

Spokane County’s 12 marijuana processors and seven growers both lead the state in terms of numbers and total sales. Combined with the five legal pot shops, Spokane County has recorded a shade less than $3.6 million in sales for legal marijuana at all levels that the state monitors.

In all, the state’s licensed recreational marijuana stores have reported a total of nearly $14 million in sales after sporadic openings across Washington in response to a vote-approved initiative that legalized marijuana for recreational use by adults in private settings.

Spokane Green Leaf on Country Homes Boulevard has sold more than $1 million worth of legal marijuana products since it opened in July, making it the state’s fifth most-active retail pot shop. New Vansterdam, reporting $1.6 million in sales, is in Vancouver, followed by Herbal Nation in Bothell and Cannabis City in Seattle and another Vancouver store, Main Street Marijuana.

Voters approved recreational marijuana use by adults in 2012. The state began issuing licenses for marijuana growers, processors and sellers in the spring, and the first stores opened in early July. Most stores had to close off and on in the beginning because of the shortage of supplies.

The Liquor Control Board, which issues the licenses for all recreational operations, recently began putting individual marijuana businesses sales and tax receipts on its website.

A computer analysis of those lists also shows that the second largest processor of marijuana is in Spokane Valley. Farmer J’s on Woodruff Road reported some $936,000 in sales of processed marijuana since July. The agency lists 12 different processors in Spokane County, with sales totaling more than $1.5 million out of nearly $7.5 million for processors statewide.

Some processors package marijuana for individual sale while others mix it with other substances to create edible marijuana products. Spokane County also has the top two growers based on sales, Green Surfer in Mead and Green Matter in Edwall.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this post had some incorrect figures because of incomplete capture of data from the Liquor Board's reporting system.

For a full list of sales totals for the state's legal marijuana stores, processors and growers, click here to go inside the blog.

State could quadruple land planted to legal pot

OLYMPIA – Washington may soon quadruple the amount of land where legal marijuana can be grown.

The state Liquor Control Board is considering a series of changes to its recreational marijuana rules, and one of them would increase the allowable land for the legal pot to rise to 8.5 million square feet, up from the 2 million square-foot limit established last year when the system was set up.

That doesn’t mean recreational marijuana will overtake the state’s other cash crops like wheat, peas, lentils or apples any time soon; 8.5 million square feet is only about 195 acres. . .

 

Marijuana banking problems persist

OLYMPIA — The federal government is offering little help to banking institutions willing to set up accounts for legal marijuana operations, making it difficult to bring them out of an all-cash business that has higher risk of theft and money laundering.

Instead, it has set up "a huge avalanche of additional regulations" for banks and credit unions willing to offer those accounts, members of a pair of legislative committees were told today.

And even with those regulations, there's no guarantee a new administration won't decide to go after banks that accept money from businesses licensed by the state to grow, process or sell a substance illegal under federal drug laws, members of the House Financial Services and Government Accountability committees were told. . . 

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

Sewage researcher discusses potential Spokane THC test

University of Puget Sound professor Dan Burgard says the academic response to his study of drugs in waste water has been a mix of curiosity and bewilderment.

"Everybody thinks, 'Wow, you can do that?'" Burgard said in an interview Wednesday. "Then they say, 'Wait, what else can you find?'"

Burgard's research on the presence of amphetamines and other drugs in the sewage at college campuses prompted American Civil Liberties Union attorney Alison Holcomb to suggest Spokane look at his process for testing marijuana use trends Tuesday. Burgard said he's intrigued by the idea, but there would be many logistical hurdles to scale for his direct involvement and the numbers would not be as illuminating as if sewage prior to retail shops opening could be tested.

"You can still watch trends over the next couple of years," Burgard said. "As more stores open, do we see more (THC), or do we see the same old, same old?"

To read the rest of this item, go inside the blog.

Ephrata pot shop fights trademark lawsuit

An embattled Ephrata pot shop has fired a lofty salvo in response to a trademark infringement lawsuit filed against it by the marijuana media juggernaut that publishes "High Times" magazine.

In its response to a lawsuit filed last month in U.S. District Court for Eastern Washington, Richard Reimers and his business - previously known as "High Time Station" because of its location near train tracks in the small Grant County town - ask the federal courts to cancel publisher Trans-High Corp.'s trademarks on the phrase "High Times."

Reimers cites the court's authority under 15 United States Code Section 1119, which grants federal courts the authority to reverse or modify trademark registrations authorized by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Reimers' attorney, John R. Zeimantz of Spokane, says the company is not using the mark to actually sell marijuana, and now that the practice is legal for recreational sales in two states (and potentially more) and medicinally in many more, the trademark should be cancelled.

"Since Plaintiff is not making a lawful use of the mark in commerce, the mark is not entitled to Federal registration and the existing Federal registration should be cancelled by this Court," Zeimantz wrote in the response, filed earlier this month.

High Times has been published monthly since 1974, when it debuted as a satirical one-off publication of Playboy magazine. The company has rigorously defended its trademark rights of the High Times name in Washington and elsewhere.

The company has filed multiple registered trademarks with the Patent Office, including the publication's logo that has been active since 1994.

But a victory by Reimers would not be without precedent. The national sandwich chain Firehouse Subs sued a Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, bar and grill asking them to cease and desist using the word "firehouse" in their name. A jury found in favor of the small business and, as a result of the settlement agreement, the national franchise agreed to allow its "Firehouse" registered trademarks to expire. The courts will also be asked to review the Patent Office's decision not to renew certain trademarks owned by the Washington Redskins franchise because of concerns the team name is insensitive to native populations.

The next court hearing in the Ephrata pot shop case is scheduled in Spokane next month. Reimers said by email last month he'd had trouble keeping his shop open due to supply issues in rural Washington.

 

Sunday Spin: Call Mad Men. We’ve got rules for pot ads

Every time I forget how far Washington’s venture into the world of legalized recreational marijuana is taking us from the days when pot was illegal and thus the stuff of counterculture song and legend, the state does something to remind me.

It happened again last week when the state Liquor Control Board released a set of Frequently Asked Questions about advertising marijuana.

Think about that for a minute. Less than two years ago, having a place with pounds of marijuana that you would sell in small batches to anyone who happened in could put you in prison for a long time. Now the state has guidelines for Mad Men to follow as you try to outsell your competitors.

Cue Tommy Chong singing “No stems no seeds that you don’t need, Acapulco Gold is … badass weed.”

Which apparently would be OK under certain circumstances, according to the FAQs. . . 

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

First Stevens Co. pot shop opens its doors

The first retail marijuana store in Stevens County has opened its doors for business, though employees say they're suffering from the same lack of product that has plagued other stores in the region.

Savage THC in Clayton, Washington, opened last week and is keeping regular hours from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week, said store employee Cameron Duncan on Friday. The store is the first of six potential pot shops in the county, registered with the Liquor Control Board, to receive a license and open for business.

Duncan said the store is currently carrying strains from Farmer J's, a grower in Spokane Valley that has done business with Spokane's first recreational marijuana store, Spokane Green Leaf.

"We're working on a couple more local strains," Duncan said. "Down the road, we should be carrying some different stuff."

The store sells loose marijuana, rolled joints, pipes and other smoking paraphernalia, Duncan said. Prices remain at levels higher than the store would like because of supply issues, Duncan said, but the store hopes costs to consumers will fall as the market stabilizes.

The other five potential pot shops in Stevens County are listed below. They are all located in Colville, and applications are pending with the Liquor Control Board, according to public records.

CARDIAC SOLUTIONS NORTHWEST 415285 176 PONDEROSA RD   COLVILLE WA STEVENS 991142003
COLVILLE SMOKES 414681 672 S MAIN ST   COLVILLE WA STEVENS 991142506
HERBAL E SCENTS 414902 545 C HWY 395 S   COLVILLE WA STEVENS 99114
SECRET HERB SHOP 413995 272 N LINCOLN ST   COLVILLE WA STEVENS 991142340
SUPER EXPRESSIONS 415989 1040 N HWY   COLVILLE WA STEVENS 991142032

 

Valley’s first legal pot store set to open

The Valley’s first state-licensed recreational marijuana shop is hosting a grand opening celebration Friday.

Sativa Sisters is located in the former Planned Parenthood building at 10525 E. Trent Ave., just inside Millwood city limits. It plans on carrying marijuana from at least three regional producers, including a line of organic pot grown in nearby Lincoln County.

“It’s exciting,” said general manager Eric Skaar. “We haven’t even announced we’re opening and we’ve already got people stopping in.”

The store will keep daily operating hours from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and also offers smoking paraphernalia.

Friday’s celebration will include live music and a taco truck in the afternoon.

The store is the fourth to open in the Spokane area since July, when state regulators began issuing licenses to retail marijuana operations. The first three are in North Spokane. State regulators will allow up to 18 licensed retail shops throughout Spokane County, with eight allotted for the city of Spokane and three for the city of Spokane Valley.

Most of the first stores to open statewide have struggled with supply shortages that limited their hours of operation, but Skaar said he's confident Sativa Sisters will be able to maintain regular daily operating hours. He said that one of the reasons they're just now opening is because they wanted to have supply issues resolved ahead of time.

The city of Millwood issued the store a business license after concluding the location complied with zoning codes and other restrictions, officials said. The store also obtained city permits for renovations and other improvements to the property before opening.

Legal pot sales surge in August

Recreational marijuana sales have soared in August, thanks in part to a big Friday that came in the midst of several large-scale marijuana events in Western Washington.

According to sales figures tracked by the Washington State Liquor Control Board, more than $5.1 million worth of legal pot has been sold in the state since Aug. 1. About a sixth of that total was sold Friday, Aug. 15, during the "Canna Con" exposition in Tacoma and the annual Hempfest celebration in Seattle. The state reported sales of about $860,000 worth of product on that day, doubling the closest competitor for busiest sales day nationwide.

Marijuana sales statewide reported by Liquor Control Board, 7/6 to 8/25
The Liquor Control Board says more than $8.3 million worth of marijuana has been sold legally since July 8, with excise taxes reaching more than $2 million.

That $5.1 million figure is almost $2 million more than the amount of legal weed sold in July, over roughly the same number of days.

While the expo is likely one of the causes of the big sales day earlier this month, Liquor Control Board spokesman Brian Smith said many factors are contributing to a growth in sales.

"As of last week, we'd licensed 46 retailers, with something in the upper 30s reporting sales," Smith said. "More and more product is coming into the market."

Some businesses are reporting their sales at the end of the week, leading to a normal bump on Fridays and Saturdays, Smith said. Another encouraging sign is the rate at which the department is receiving owed taxes, he said. The Liquor Control Board said 97-percent of the taxes owed had been paid to the state, a rate Smith called impressive.

In addition, about 75 percent of taxes were paid with a check rather than cash, indicating retailers were using banks to deposit their money, Smith said. He did not say whether those checks were issued in the name of a business or an individual.

State wants to be part of pot ban cases

OLYMPIA — The Attorney General's office wants to get involved in a pair of lawsuits between pot businesses and cities that have banned them in an effort to "protect the will of the voters" who legalized the drug in 2012.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson said today the state is asking to intervene in cases filed in Wenatchee and Fife that are challenging local bans on the sale of marijuana.

If the courts say yes, the state would come down somewhat in the middle of this fight. It would argue the cities have a right under state law to ban a marijuana business, even one licensed by the state Liquor Control Board. But they don't have the right to ban those businesses because they violate federal law.

"We will oppose any argument that federal law pre-empts Initiative 502," the ballot measure passed in 2012, Ferguson said. A court ruling that federal law pre-empts the state law that established a system to produce sell and use recreational marijuana by adults could have far-ranging consequences for other communities, he said.

A hearing on the case involving the Fife ban is set for Aug. 29, he said.

Edible pot rules: No to lollipops, yes to brownies

OLYMPIA — Legal marijuana stores won't be able to sell lollipops, gummy bears or other candies infused with the drug, but will be able to sell properly labelled brownies and cookies, a state agency decided today.

The Liquor Control Board approved rules for marijuana-infused food products, also known as edibles, designed to limit items that may appeal strongly to children. . . 

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

 

Sunday Spin: Covering pot — interesting, but no sampling

During of quarter century-plus of living in Spokane, I regularly had to explain to friends and relatives elsewhere that it was not a suburb of Seattle and thus did not get rain all the time.

Now in Olympia, I battle a new misconception, that being the newspaper’s marijuana reporter is not like being its wine critic or beer columnist. It’s interesting on many levels – government policy, changing social standards, complicated chemistry – but there’s no sampling of the subject matter and it has about as many laughs as sitting through a legislative budget hearing.

Which is to say, almost none.

Whenever Washington’s new relationship with marijuana makes national news, envious friends in California will send a “seen this?” e-mail with a story link to some other news outlet and a note usually cribbed from Cheech and Chong or Firesign Theater. . .

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

First legal pot buyer in WA was from…Kansas

The first legal pot store in Washington opened not in Seattle or Tacoma or Spokan, but in Bellingham this morning at 8 a.m.

First in line to buy some legal weed was Cale Holdsworth of Abilene, Kansas, Slog reports. Holdsworth was almost immediately mobbed by a gaggle of reporters there to record the moment for history. 

Spokane's first pot store, Spokane Green Leaf, is scheduled to open at 2 p.m. First customers began lining up last night.

Supply problems limit pot store openings

Three stores in north Spokane are among the 25 applicants who will get the state’s first licenses to sell recreational marijuana, but only one will open Tuesday, the first day such sales will be legal.

The state Liquor Control Board this morning released its first list of store licenses it is issuing for communities around Washington. Three are in the Spokane area.

But only Spokane Green Leaf, 9107 N. Country Homes Blvd., expects to open, and one of the owners said they have not yet settled on a time. Because of supply problems that include a processor in the Seattle area cancelling over the weekend, it may be a “soft opening” on Tuesday, followed by a grand opening this weekend. . . 

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

First pot stores: Spokane 3, Seattle 1?

OLYMPIA — Spokane will likely have three legal pot stores up and running in early July when Washington's first retail marijuana outlets open, which will be three times as many as Seattle.

Potential licensees who won a lottery for the chance to open a store in the state's largest city are lagging behind other locales in completing the steps required to open, and only one is ready for a final inspection, the Liquor Control Board was told today.  Three licensees in Spokane are ready for their final inspections, four in Tacoma, three in Vancouver and three in Bellingham, according to information provided the board. Two other stores in King County — one store in Bellevue and another in Des Moines — are also on the list of 20 stores expected to be among the first licenses issued on July 7, as are applicants in smaller towns like Union Gap and Benge.

Those stores would be able to open as early as 8 a.m. the next day.  More stores will get final inspections, be issued licenses and be allowed to open later in July.

Washington will almost certainly have stores spread around more of the state than Colorado did when its first stores opened at the beginning of the year and the stores were concentrated in Denver, Chris Marr, a board commissioner, said. 

The higher costs of opening a store in Seattle may be making it harder for potential store owners to find a location and financing to get the required equipment needed to pass inspection, Marr said. The liquor board received 198 applications for the 21 licenses set aside for Seattle, and it's possible some applicants weren't prepared when they were drawn.

For more pot news from the Liquor Control Board meeting, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

No ‘edibles’ when first pot stores open

OLYMPIA — Washington's first recreational marijuana stores are expected to open on July 8, a day after the first licenses will be announced, state officials said today. But those stores will not be carrying "edible" marijuana products because new rules are coming on labeling to discourage marketing to children. . . 

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

Update: More Eastern WA pot store locations

 

To check for locations, enlarge the map or click on the locator pins.

OLYMPIA — When the Liquor Control Board announced the "winners" of its lotteries for recreational marijuana stores, it also mentioned there were other applicants getting the green light to secure a license in places that didn't have lotteries.

In those locations, there weren't more applicants than the slots allowed, so there was no reason to bother with a lottery. But with all the excitement over the lottery, the board didn't have time to sort out the locations of the non-lottery applicants.

They remedied that this week, and we've updated the map of possible recreational marijuana store locations above. The list comes with the same caveats, that these are still just applications. The potential owners must still build out their stores and pass inspections before they can open. They might also move if they develop problems with local jurisdictions, but if that happens they'll have to find a location that meets state and local requirements. Those who don't pass inspection won't get licenses

Some E. WA pot stores could be really close to ID

 

To enlarge the map, click on the + sign. To see the  name of the proposed store in a particular location, click on the icon. Google+ map by Jim Camden

Some of the most popular locations for Eastern Washington’s new pot entrepreneurs are close to the Idaho border, the list of winners for the state’s marijuana store lottery suggests.

Three of the Spokane County applicants receiving the green light by the Washington Liquor Control Board to try finishing the licensing process plan to open a store at the same East Trent location, just a mile and a half from the border.

Manpreet Singh of Hi-Star Corp., who wants to open one of those stores, said he picked the small shopping mall in Newman Lake for two reasons. One is he owns a gas station nearby.

The other? “It’s close to the border,” Singh said. That could mean an expanded customer base from Idaho, he said.

Recreational marijuana isn’t legal in the Gem State, so Idaho customers would be taking a risk carrying it back across the border. They’d have to consume it somewhere in Washington, in private. Driving back under the influence would also be a problem.

Also receiving a slot through the lottery for suites at the same address in the 25000 block of East Sprague are NXNW Retail and Urban Top Shelf. The licensing process has a ways to go, and any of the applicants could drop out or switch to a different location without losing their slot, Mikhail Carpenter, a spokesman for the liquor board, said.

Singh said having three marijuana stores in the same area might be tough for business. He has scoped out another spot in the Spokane Valley, but it’s not as good. Among other things, it’s at least 15 miles from the border.

Joseph Rammell received the OK to proceed with his application to open Mary Jane’s Weed in Newport. It would be less than 1,000 feet from Oldtown, Idaho, a short walk along residential streets. But only if Newport drops its moratorium on marijuana businesses within its city limits. If not, “we’re looking at a couple of alternate locations” outside of town, he said.

Several cities and counties have moratoria, but that didn’t stop the board from giving the green light to Rammell or to Kelly Jackson, one of two Asotin County applicants selected in Friday’s lottery. He plans to open his Canna4Life store on Clarkston’s 6th Street, which is less than a mile from the bridge separating the two states. The closeness to Idaho was one reason he picked the spot, although only a few buildings in the city met the state’s qualifications of being at least 1,000 feet from schools, playgrounds and other places meant mainly for children.

Jackson said his lifelong asthma was cured about 20 months ago by medical marijuana and he would like someday to carry some medical products as well. Under current law, state-licensed stores can only sell the heavily regulated and taxed recreational marijuana, but with medical marijuana also illegal in Idaho, that state’s residents might have a hard time getting the doctor’s recommendation to buy from a Washington dispensary.

The Clarkston city council will revisit its moratorium later this year. Jackson hopes it can be convinced to drop the moratorium and go after “marijuana tourism”, billing the area as a destination for people who want to fish, spend time on the rivers or visit nearby Hell’s Canyon – and have a chance to enjoy a recreational drug illegal most other places.

“Tourism is going to go crazy,” he predicted.

The three applicants in Pullman are clustered within a few feet of each other, and less than seven miles from the Idaho border. But interstate commerce isn’t likely the main concern of proposed stores on Southeast Bishop Boulevard. They’re also less than half a mile away from the Stadium Boulevard entrance to Washington State University. Underclassmen take note: The law requires customers to be at least 21, and for the stores to check IDs.

In the Spokane area, applicants making it through the lottery are heavily concentrated on North Division Street as well as East Trent and East Sprague avenues.

The City of Spokane is allotted eight stores, and all but one selected in the lottery are north of Interstate 90. Four are on North Division Street, two on East Francis Avenue and one on North Ralph Street. One applicant just south of I-90 is on South Lewis Street.

All three Spokane Valley stores would be on East Sprague Avenue, with two of them listing the same address on the 9800 block. The rest of the county has seven possible locations, with two more on East Trent Avenue in Millwood as well as the three in Newman Lake. Another is on North Division Street beyond the city limits, and the seventh is on North Hawthorne Street.

Carpenter, the liquor board spokesman, said in cases where the same address is held by two applicants, a landlord could decide which he or she wanted for a tenant, and the other applicant would be able to find a new location — possibly in one of the locations of would-be retailers who weren't drawn in the lottery — and open there.

For a list of applicants in Spokane, Pend Oreille, Whitman and Asotin counties that received the "go ahead" from the Liquor Control Board to develop retail marijuana stores, click here to continue inside the blog.

And the pot lottery winners are. . .

 

OLYMPIA — Marijuana retail stores in the Spokane area could be heavily concentrated on North Division, East Trent and East Sprague, based on the results of the state lottery.

The Washington Liquor Control Board this morning released the results of the double-blind lottery for most of the 334 licenses for recreational marijuana stores. Drawing a number doesn't guarantee the holder of opening a store, but it gives them a chance to secure a lease and proceed with setting up an operation that will be inspected by board staff. Those who pass inspections for such things as security, training and tracking procedures will be allowed to open. If any lottery winner fails to pass all inspections, the next applicant on the list will be given the opportunity.

The City of Spokane is allotted eight stores, and all but one of the lottery winners are north of Interstate 90. Four are on North Division, two on East Francis and one on North Ralph. The lone south side store could be on South Lewis.

All three Spokane Valley stores would be on East Sprague, with two of them listing the same address.

Mikhail Carpenter, a spokesman for the liquor board, said in cases where the same address is held by two applicants, a landlord could decide which he or she wanted for a tenant, and the other applicant would be able to find a new location — possibly in one of the locations of wouldbe retailers who weren't drawn in the lottery — and open there.

Outside those two cities, the county at large has seven possible locations, and five would be on East Trent. Another is on North Division beyond the city limits, and the seventh is on North Hawthorne.

The applications were awarded through a lottery operated by a Seattle accounting firm and Washington State University. 

For a list of the addresses, go inside the blog.