Everything tagged

Latest from The Spokesman-Review

State agency unveils weekly marijuana report website

OLYMPIA — Almost everything you ever wanted to know about Washington's legal marijuana businesses might be found on a new state website.

The Washington State Liquor Control Board  has developed a new site that keeps track of the number of licensees for legal marijuana production, processing and sales, the amount produced this month or over the last fiscal year, plus sales volumes and tax receipts. Even the number of violations issued for not following state regs.

That's right. Plenty of pot info, with charts and graphs, and even Google maps with those little push-pin icons.

This website comes as the agency gets ready to change its name to reflect its new purview to the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board. New name, same acronym.

 

4 pot stores caught selling to minors in state sting

OLYMPIA — Four licensed marijuana stores in Western Washington got caught this month selling pot to a minor who was working with the state licensing agency on "compliance checks."

The stores — two in Everett and two in Tacoma — could be hit with a $2,500 fine and a suspension. The person who did the actual selling could be charged by a local prosecutor.

The four stores were among 22 tested in checks between May 15 and 18. Brian Smith, a spokesman for the state Liquor Control Board which licenses recreational marijuana stores, said that compliance rate of 82 percent is lower than the 85 percent rate for all retail stores that sell some alcohol product and the 92 percent rate for stores that sell spirits.

The agency warned all recreational marijuana stores that it would be doing compliance checks starting this month, Smith said. It expects to do checks on all licensed pot stores around the state by June 30. Here's a list of the stores that failed and passed the compliance checks so far:

Businesses that sold marijuana to a minor

Mary Mart

3005 6th Avenue Ste. B (Tacoma)

Emerald Leaves

2702 6th Avenue (Tacoma)

Green City Collective

13601 Highway 99 Suite B (Everett)

Purple Haze

4218 Rucker Ave. (Everett)


Businesses that did not sell marijuana to a minor

Westside 420 Recreational

4503 Ocean Beach Highway (Longview)

Freedom Market

820A Westside Highway (Kelso)

Localamster

1006 California Way (Longview)

Longview Freedom Market

971 14th Avenue Suite 110 (Longview)

420 Holiday 

2028 10th Avenue (Longview)

Diamond Green

4002 South 12th Street (Tacoma)

Rainier Downtown

112 South 24th Street (Tacoma)

Crockpot

1703 SE Sedgwick Road Suite 113 (Port Orchard)

Greenway Marijuana

4851 Geiger Road SE (Port Orchard)

420 Pot Shop

1374 SE Lund Avenue (Port Orchard)

HWY 420

1110 Charleston Beach Road West (Bremerton)

Kushmart

6309 Evergreen Way (Everett)

Bud Hut

11603 Highway 99 (Everett)

Herbal Nation

19302 Bothell Everett Highway (Bothell)

High Times 

1519 Highway 99 (Lynnwood)

Euphorium Lynnwood

20925 Cypress Way Suite 104 (Lynnwood)

Local Roots Marijuana

212 West Winesap Road Suite 101 (Bothell)

High Society

8630 South March Point Road (Anacortes)

 

Senate passes medical marijuana changes

OLYMPIA – A major revision to the state's marijuana laws that blends the medical and recreational systems and sets up a voluntary registry for adult patients, overwhelmingly passed the Senate Tuesday and was sent to Gov. Jay Inslee.

Changes to the two systems – the heavily regulated recreational pot and the largely unregulated medical marijuana – drew some of the largest and most vocal crowds as it worked its way through a series of legislative committee hearings over the last three months. Some patients said they were afraid to register as a user of a drug that is still illegal under federal law. Others urged legislators not to disrupt their access to strains of marijuana that were successfully treating pain, epilepsy, cancer or post-traumatic stress disorder when pharmaceuticals have failed them.

New recreational marijuana entrepreneurs that started growing and processing operations or opened stores said they were being put at a disadvantage by medical dispensaries that didn’t pay the same taxes or meet the same strict growing and testing requirements.

The Cannabis Patient Protection Act passed on a 41-8 vote. It changes the tax structure for marijuana, allows recreational shops to obtain licenses to sell medical versions and gives medical patients exemptions from some taxes if they register and show their “recognition card”.

The cards must be obtained after an examination by a health professional for a qualifying medical condition, that must be renewed annually for adults and every six months for minors.

Minors could not be in control of their marijuana, however; it would have to be under the control of a parent or guardian.

The Liquor Control Board – to be renamed the Liquor and Cannabis Board – given the job of licensing medical marijuana businesses that are currently unregulated. Voters gave the board authority over the recreational marijuana system when they approved Initiative 502 in 2012, and the limits the board placed on the amount of land that can grow the plant and the number of stores that can sell it would be increased to handle the demand from patients.

Medical marijuana dispensaries could apply for licenses and would get preference if they have a record of obtaining required business licenses and paying taxes. Their products would have to be tested to be free of pesticides, mold and other contaminants as recreational pot now is. Medical patients could grow varying amounts of the plant themselves, depending on their condition, and could form small cooperatives. But collective gardens that serve large numbers of patients would be banned.

Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, said the provisions that allow different numbers of plants for different patients were confusing, and she worried that some in rural areas will not immediately have access to medical marijuana.

“It’s going to work out in the long run, but I’m worried about the patients,” said Kohl-Welles, who has been a leader in marijuana legislation for some 20 years. 

WaLeg Day 89: House begins debate on pot bills

OLYMPIA — The House began debating the Cannabis Patient Protection Act about 4:25 p.m.

First up was an amendment to eliminate the proposed registry for medical marijuana patients. It failed.

Next was an amendment that gives preference for medical marijuana licenses to existing license owners who have paid their taxes. It passed.

Next was an amendment that prohibited possession by someone under 21, regardless of THC content. It passed.

An amendment to add traumatic brain injury to the list of conditions eligible for treatment with marijuana passed.

An amendment making it a felony to illegally access the database or reveal information for it passed.

An amendment to remove marijuana from the state's schedule 1 list, which is only for drugs that have no accepted medical use and a high level for abuse, passed.

An effort to "de-link" the bill from a separate bill that revises marijuana taxes failed.

A major rewrite — which includes making the database a voluntary "blind registry" without addresses listed; allows patients as young as 18 to be medical marijuana patient; allows one patient to give or sell marijuana to another patient; expands size and membership in community gardens, and allows broader growing and production of medical marijuana products —failed

The revised bill, which makes changes to the medical marijuana and requires a database for patients, passed on a vote of 60-36. 

WaLeg Day 71: Pot vending machines? Drive-thru sales? Research licenses?

OLYMPIA – Voter approval of recreational marijuana didn’t close off legislative discussions on pot, it merely provided a springboard into new questions, sessions in House committees proved Monday.

Should the state allow customers to pick up their recreational marijuana at a drive-through window? Doesn’t happen anywhere right now, but Sen. Barbara Bailey, R-Oak Harbor, is afraid it might someday. The Senate unanimously approved a bill that says they couldn't, and the House Commerce and Gaming Committee took a similarly dim view.

Should customers be able to buy at a vending machine?  The same bill would ban the machines, which aren't in use in Washington right now. Bailey is also worried that some day they will be, and minors would get access to marijuana through them.

“This is all about our kids,” Bailey said.

Members of Commerce and Gaming weren’t so convinced, considering the machines would be in state licensed stores, which already bar minors. They suggested the state could OK machines in licensed stores with sophisticated software that reads a driver’s license to check age, matches the photo on the card with the person at the machine through facial recognition and limits the amount any one customer can buy in a 24-hour-period.

But the machines couldn’t stock any edible pot products that the state restricts for fear they could easily be mistaken as something else and eaten by children, committee members said.

Representatives of American Green said that was doable. They've spent about $2 million developing such a device, which they call a verified vending platform, not a vending machine.

Should customers be able to smoke their marijuana in public? The 2012 initiative said no, but didn’t do a very good job of defining “in public.” The Liquor Control Board wants more clarification through a bill that would define it much like alcohol, and also ban it in parks.

Brianna Taylor, a lobbyist for the city of Spokane Valley, said the proposed definition should go farther and outlaw lounges where marijuana users might gather to consume their pot. The Valley has such a place, she said, and if the state won’t ban them outright, it should give cities and counties the authority to do it within their borders, she said.

Bad idea for a legal substance that is giving the state tax revenue, said Arthur West, an Olympia resident and government watchdog. “Where are people going to be smoking this weed? They should do so in the broad light of day in front of God and everybody. That’s what legalization’s about.”

Should researchers be able to study marijuana in Washington? Yes, said Jessica Tonani, of the research firm Verda Bio, because the plant has a genome that is roughly 10 times more diverse than the human genome and can have 85 different cannabinoids in a wide variety of concentrations.

“It’s silly to call marijuana medicine when you don’t really know what’s in it,” Committee Chairman Chris Hurst, D-Enumclaw, said.

But it’s impossible to do research right now because of all the different strains of marijuana now being grown, Tonani said.

The committee is considering a Senate-approved bill that would add a marijuana research license to the current licenses that cover growing, processing and selling the drug, with research applications reviewed by the state’s Life Sciences Discovery Fund Authority.

Later in the day, the House Appropriations Committee held hearings on a comprehensive bill that looked at many of those questions as well as ways of combining the state’s recreational and medical marijuana systems, rearranging the tax structure and providing some of the money the state collects to cities and counties that allow marijuana businesses.

All of the bills are expected to get committee votes in the coming weeks.

Valley asks for rules against marijuana “lounges”

OLYMPIA – As legislators worked this week to blend the state’s recreational and medical marijuana laws, Spokane Valley officials asked them to consider one more wrinkle in the rapidly changing marketplace: pot lounges.

The Members Lounge, which is connected to a medical marijuana dispensary and allows consumption of some vapor and edible marijuana products on its premises, is an example of where the state’s two very different systems don’t mesh well. Using recreational marijuana in public is not legal, but the law is silent on public consumption of medical marijuana and the lounge contends its patrons aren’t in public but become members of a private club by paying a fee.

“I don’t want to insinuate they are doing anything illegal,” Valley City Attorney Eric Lamb said Thursday. “But bars have to get liquor licenses, why not marijuana lounges?”

Wednesday evening, a lobbyist for the Valley asked the House Finance Committee to add restrictions on marijuana lounges to the wide array of changes it is considering for medical and recreational pot. There’s nothing in the current proposals to address them, and there should be, Brianna Taylor said.

It was the first of night and morning hearings on a series of marijuana-related proposals on which the Legislature seems to be focusing after considering a wide array of ideas in the first eight weeks of the session.

“I think we all know that the people of Washington have embarked on a very important experiment that has social and economic and criminal justice implications,” Finance Committee Chairman Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle, said. “We are all doing our best to embrace the will of the people and have a well-regulated and appropriately taxed marijuana market.”

That committee is considering changes to the tax system the voters slapped on recreational marijuana, which currently charges a 25 percent excise tax each time the drug moves from a grower to a separate processor and then to a retailer. If the grower also has a license to process what he or she grows, it’s only taxed twice. Members of the Washington Cannabusiness Association – which represent recreational marijuana operations –said they are struggling under the weight of taxes and regulation. They’d support the proposed change for the state to levy a single 30 percent sales at the retail level. It would lower the expected revenue to the state, but also drop the price of pot in the stores, making it closer to the cost of the illegal market.

Store owners could deduct sales tax paid to the state under federal tax rules, something they can’t do with the excise tax. Medical marijuana patients who are on a registry could be exempted from the sales tax when shopping at a recreational store.

Medical marijuana dispensaries would either have to be licensed by the state or close under that proposal and a separate one that has passed the Senate and received a hearing in the House Health Care and Wellness Committee Thursday morning. Cannabusiness members welcome that change because they contend the unregulated medical sellers are undercutting their prices while inventory of recreational pot piles up.

The medical marijuana businesses and users are split on the efforts to blend them into the more heavily regulated recreational system operated by the state Liquor Control Board.

Rick Rosio, a Spokane resident and member of Veterans for Compassionate Care, which advocates using the drug to treat some cases of post-traumatic stress disorder, told the Health Care Committee it was “important that structure be brought to the medical marijuana community.” Americans for Safe Access, an organization that represents some patients and dispensaries, support the changes the Finance Committee is considering.

But Steve Sarich of Cannabis Action Coalition, a separate group of medical marijuana businesses and patients, denounced the efforts to bring that system under the Liquor Board and require patients to register as an effort to disband the medical market. “This looks like a declaration of war to me,” he told the Finance Committee, which could vote on the bill as early as Friday.

Both proposals would require medical marijuana patients to register in some form with the state to shop at licensed dispensaries or to get a tax break at recreational stores that receive an expanded license to carry medicinal strains. Every other state that has legalized medical marijuana has some sort of database, Vicki Christopherson, of the Washington Cannabusiness Association, said.

It also would provide valuable demographic data on patients and prescribers, Kristy Weeks, of the state Department of Health, said. “When people ask how many patients do you have in the state of Washington, I don’t know.”

There’s also no accurate count of the number of medical marijuana dispensaries in the state, although David Mendoza, of the Seattle mayor’s staff, said a recent check in that city showed 103 within its borders. Half have opened since November 2012, when voters approved recreational marijuana, so it’s doubtful they are all just filling the need of medical marijuana patients, Mendoza said.

Some patients and co-op operators told legislators they are worried about any kind of registry.

“It gives the feds everything they need to come after patients and providers,” said Toni Mills of The Human Solutions International, a pro-marijuana network. She cited the recent case in U.S. District Court in Spokane of the Kettle Falls 5, in which a group of medical marijuana patients were tried on federal drug charges and couldn’t tell the jury they were patients or cite state laws.

But Jeff Gilmore, a licensed recreational marijuana grower, cited the same case as an example of growing public acceptance of the drug. Jurors acquitted the three defendants who eventually came to trial on four of five counts, he said. “The public is not going to tolerate a witch hunt.” 

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. 

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.”

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.”  

Marr, Foster leaving Liquor Board

OLYMPIA – Two of the three members of the state board that oversees Washington’s liquor and marijuana laws will step down early next year.

Chairwoman Sharon Foster has informed Gov. Jay Inslee that she will not accept a reappointment to the Liquor Control Board when her term expires in January, and former state Sen. Chris Marr said he is leaving that month to take a position as a lobbyist. . .

 

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.

Pot may bring state $25 million by next July

OLYMPIAWashington tax coffers could get a $25 million boost by next July and nearly $200 million by mid 2017 from legal marijuana, state economists estimate. But much of that money is spoken for and won't help the general fund.

The estimates for taxes and fees the state can expect from recreational marijuana, the first such available, are contained in overall economic and revenue forecasts released Thursday afternoon. In general, the state's budget outlook is changed slightly for the better from the June forecast, economist Steve Lerch said. . . 

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

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.

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.

Valley imposes more restrictions on pot retailers

Valley leaders unanimously adopted new restrictions on recreational marijuana retailers tonight despite warnings from pot entrepreneurs that it could doom the fledgling industry's success here.

The local restrictions go beyond the existing state prohibitions on marijuana operations within 1,000 feet of schools, parks and libraries. In the Valley, retail operations also are now prohibited within 1,000 feet of the Centennial Trial and planned Appleway Trail, as well as any land earmarked for future schools, parks or libraries. A late addition to the ordinance also prohibits retail operations near Spokane Valley City Hall or city-owed property that could be used for parks or city operations in the future.

Several people urged the council to reject the additional restrictions, with some prospective retailers warning that they may have to consider a lawsuit against the city if the additional restrictions prevent them from finding suitable locations to open their stores.

Crystal Orcutt called the restrictions hypocritical because no other industry faces the same types of restrictions. Orcutt noted that there's an adult products emporium across the street from city hall and several bars and cocktail lounges nearby, both of which she suggested pose greater threats to the health of the community.

"The zoning restrictions that are being suggested here tonight are too restrictive," she said.

The proposal was approved unanimously without comment by council members.

 

 

 

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.

 

Pot lottery ‘winners’ revealed Friday

The original logo for legal recreational marijuana in Washington, which was developed for the Liquor Control Board but never officially used. But we kind of like it, anyway. 

OLYMPIA – More than 300 businesses that get the first crack at opening the state’s recreational marijuana stores will be announced Friday.

The state Liquor Control Board will publish a list of applicants selected through lotteries to finish the process for obtaining a marijuana retailer license, as well as those who are in cities or counties which didn’t have more requests than the limits set by the board last year. .  .

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

Board likely to ban pot home-delivery

OLYMPIA — Recreational marijuana purchases in Washington will be take-out but not delivery, proposed new rules say.

The Liquor Control Board, which is overseeing the establishment of the state's legal marijuana system, appears likely to ban home-delivery of the drug along with several other tweaks to laws it has been writing and rewriting since voters approved Initiative 502 in 2012. Among the revisions are clarifications to what recreational marijuana stores can and cannot do.

The law already says customers can’t consume the drug in the store or any other public place. Proposed rule changes presented to the board Wednesday and likely to be approved at a future meeting say retailers can't sell over the internet and can't deliver to customers. . ,

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

City eases its own pot restrictions

Spokane Valley eased restrictions tonight on where recreational marijuana can be grown and packaged.

The move is designed to open industrial sites north of the Spokane River along the city’s eastern edge that were excluded when Spokane Valley imposed a 1,000-foot buffer around the Centennial Trail. Retail marijuana stores are still prohibited within the buffers.

Commercial real estate agents, industrial property owners and would-be marijuana producers told council members the river is a better buffer than an arbitrary 1,000 feet, and that opening up the industrial sites even to limited production and processing will bring new companies and jobs to the city.

The council unanimously approved the change.

More than 30 companies have applied to the state for production and processing licenses in Spokane Valley, while 43 more have applied for retail licenses. The state will allow just three retail operations in the city, but there’s no geographical limit on the number of licensed producers and processors.

Pot store lottery begins

OLYMPIA — The lottery for Washington's limited supply of recreational marijuana shops began today and will continue through the beginning of next month. But don't expect any snappy video shots of bouncing balls in a cage, which the state's other Lottery features.

It's called a double-blind lottery. And, like it sounds, it won't be very visual.

The Liquor Control Board has sent a list of retail license applicants who met the qualifications and filled out their forms properly to a Seattle auditing firm, which will generate random lists of applicants in each of the state's 39 counties, plus all the cities, where a certain number of stores will be allowed.

Later this week, Washington State University's Social and Economic Sciences Research Center will generate random lists of "winning" numbers for all jurisdictions that have more applications than their allotted slots. That's likely to be most of them, but a board spokesman said this afternoon they don't yet have a full breakdown on jurisdictions and applicants who met the most recent demand for information from staff. 

The auditors will match up the two lists, send the finished product to the Liquor Control Board, which expects to have the selected applicants all notified by May 1. The board will post the list online on May 2, although word of some of the applicants will likely leak out before then.

One other caveat: Just because an applicant makes the list does not guarantee a license. They'll have to pass further inspections of their planned storefront before getting the final go-ahead. If an applicant drops out or fails an inspection, the next applicant on the random list will get a shot.