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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.

Problem for county pot growers

Spokane County commissioners may have thrown a wrench into the plans of some would-be marijuana growers hoping to set up in unincorporated parts of the county.

An interim zoning ordinance approved Monday says anyone growing recreational marijuana will have to be on at least eight acres, with plenty of space between the fields or buildings and the property lines. . .

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

 

First pot license issued in Spokane Valley

The first recreational pot license has been issued in Spokane Valley.

Farmer J's LLC has been issued production and processing licenses for a site located in an industrial park north of Interstate 90 and east of Argonne Road. The company reportedly specializes in infused marijuana products.

Spokane Valley City Council members were advised tonight by legal staff that the licenses had been issued. The announcement came as council members were contemplating zoning restrictions designed to open up more industrial zones to production and processing but tighten down potential retail locations.

No retail licenses have been approved yet in Spokane Valley, which can have three under state rules.

Spokane Valley might be lightening up (just a bit) on pot

Just a month after banning marijuana operations within 1,000 feet of recreational trails, Spokane Valley appears to be reconsidering the move after commercial real estate brokers, landlords and pot entrepreneurs warned it's driving away potential new jobs.

Industrial property north of the Spokane River, where several potential pot processing operations are hoping to locate, was rendered off limits by the city's interim zoning restrictions adopted in February because the southern property line is barely within 1,000 feet of the Centennial Trail on the other side of the Spokane River. Landowners suggested the river is its own natural buffer zone between the trail and the potential marijuana operations.

City Council members agreed.

“I think we need to use some common sense,” said Councilman Bill Bates.

The required buffer around recreational trails in Spokane Valley is in addition to the state-mandated buffer zones around parks and schools.

Mayor Dean Grafos wants a proposed amendment drafted that would impose the local buffer restrictions on retail operations only, which effectively would clear the way for the industrial property north of the river.

The proposal likely will be considered next month.

But some council members don't want people getting the wrong idea.

“I still don't like marijuana (and) … wish we could just ban it,” said Deputy Mayor Arne Woodard. “But I think the intent of what we were trying to do was prevent families from being accosted by it, and I think the river becomes a pretty good barrier.”

Smile when you call it “weed”

OLYMPIA – “Weed” is not an official weed, at least not in Washington, not now.

So says the state Noxious Weed Control Board, which recently discussed whether various forms of cannabis, from recreational marijuana to industrial hemp, should be considered for its list of plants that need to be controlled. . . 

To continue reading, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

Stick a fork in the medical pot bills

OLYMPIA —Washington's two marijuana systems — an older one for medical patients and a new one for “recreational use” by adults —may remain separate at least for another year.

Legislators involved in negotiations over proposals to merge the two as Washington gets its new legal recreational marijuana system off the ground agreed there was little chance bills would pass in the waning hours of the session.

Rep. Cary Condotta, R-East Wenatchee, said House Republicans wanted a portion of the tax money to be collected from the newly licensed marijuana growers, processors and retail stores to go to local governments. Initiative 502, which voters approved in 2012, sends all marijuana tax revenue to the state. Without that change, the main proposal to merge the two systems had “no hope, no how,” he said.

But Condotta held out hope that a separate bill calling for a group to study ways to improve and merge the two marijuana system would pass before the Legislature adjourned.

Cities and counties around the state have imposed moratoriums on allowing new medical marijuana businesses within their borders, but Condotta said those objections would disappear if they were promised revenue to help pay for the extra law enforcement many local officials think will be needed when the businesses open.

Rep. Eileen Cody, D-West Seattle, said the proposed change to send some tax money to local governments didn't have the votes to pass and was “95 percent dead.” The study bill wasn't going to pass without the larger bill dealing with the merger, she said, but Gov. Jay Inslee could call for a study through an executive order.

Ezra Eickmeyer of the Washington Cannabis Association, a group that represents medical marijuana patients, accused local jurisdictions of “holding the initiative hostage” for tax money. But merging the two systems and closing the current medical marijuana dispensaries without some agreement to drop the moratoriums and allow recreational stores all over the state meant patients would have trouble getting the medical version of the drug.

Without controls on the growing number of medical marijuana growers and dispensaries, Cody said the state could have trouble with the federal government, which still considers the drug illegal for all uses. “The feds may come in and start closing some of them down,” she said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

WA Lege Day 24: Carrot, stick for pot businesses get OK

OLYMPIA — A House panel approved what it described as both a carrot and a stick for local governments that are reluctant to approve new marijuana businesses that have been licensed by the state.

In a 9-0 vote, the Government Accountability and Oversight Committee approved a proposal that would send some of the tax money collected from recreational marijuana businesses back to the city or county where the business is licensed. It also adds language to state law that says state law pre-empts local ordinances on recreational marijuana.

A few cities have approved complete bans on recreational marijuana businesses, and dozens  more have passed moratoria on approving them while certain issues are studied. That could set up a scenario where the drug can be purchased legally at state regulated stores by adults in one community, but onlly on the black marked in a neighboring community, Committee Chairman Chris Hurst, D-Enumclaw, said.

“Initiative 502 won't work unless it works everywhere,” said Hurst, referring to the ballot measure that legalized recreational marijuana for adults in 2012. “The voters have spoken…This is about making it work.”

It's likely not the last change the law will need, he added. The bill now heads for the House Finance Committee because of changes in the way taxes are distributed. If it is approved there, it goes to the full House.

Later today, the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee holds hearings on a pair of bills that try to merge the recreational marijuana system with the medical marijuana system which was set up by a different initiative in 1998. 

 

Sunday Spin: Marijuana a racist slur? No dude, it’s not

With more than 100 bills addressing marijuana this session, it may be no surprise the silliest thing said so far has involved this topic.

Granted, we’re only a third of the way through the session, and a huge amount of silliness may lie ahead. But it will be hard for anyone to top a point being raised with great conviction – albeit not much thought – at several recent hearings on marijuana bills:

“Marijuana is a racial slur.”

Because of this, some hearing witnesses say, the state should stop using the word, strike it from the law books, and replace it with “cannabis.”

Dude, please. . .

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

Carrot or stick to fight pot business bans?

OLYMPIA – Legislators are trying to decide whether to offer a carrot or use a stick against local governments that don’t want to let recreational marijuana businesses set up shop inside their borders.

The carrot: Offering up some of the taxes those businesses will be required to pay the state as the drug moves from harvest to sale.

The stick: A flat out ban on interfering with pot businesses that get state licenses.

Not surprisingly, cities and counties would rather have the cash. But they’re reluctant to promise they'd issue licenses even then. . .

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