In 1998, Washington voters approved a law allowing state residents to legally purchase, possess and use marijuana for medicinal purposes.
But the law is vague, creating problems for users and law enforcement. At issue is the legal phrase “only one patient at any one time,” regarding the sale of marijuana from a care provider.
Marijuana advocates argue the law allows dispensaries to essentially become the care provider for the limited time when they sell to each licensed marijuana card holder.
Spokane County law enforcement officials have a different interpretation. Prosecutors say the law makes no provision for commercial dispensaries or the sale of marijuana.
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OLYMPIA — A proposal to restrict medical marijuana and put it under the state Liquor Control Board was sent to the full House this morning.
After adding more flexibility on the amount of the drug or number of plants a patient might have, the House Health Care and Wellness Committee passed HB 2149 on a 12-5 vote.
Medical marijuana is largely unregulated in the state right now, while a tightly regulated recreational marijuana system is being set up by the state Liquor Control Board. The bill would put medical marijuana sales under the liquor board and cut back the amount a patient could possess.
Under the 1998 initiative, patients are allowed to have as much as 24 ounces of the drug. The bill would cut that to three ounces, but allow a doctor to recommend a higher amount, particularly for patients who use oils derived from the plant.
It would ban medical marijuana dispensaries which have sprung up around the state to service the medical marijuana market under the state's collective grow statutes. That was never the intent of the law, Committee Chairwoman Eileen Cody, D-West Seattle, said.
The bill is still “a work in progress”, Ranking Republican Joe Schmick of Colfax said, and likely to change. The Senate also has two bills trying to blend the two marijuana statutes, but with different provisions.
OLYMPIA – Efforts to bring the state’s two laws on marijuana together is generating several proposals in the Legislature and rifts among the medical marijuana community.
Some patients on Tuesday described a pair of bills on medical marijuana as unconstitutional intrusions, others said they were needed to provide at least some supply of the plant that’s legal under state law but illegal under federal law.
Both proposals before the Senate Health Care Committee would give the state Liquor Control Board, which currently oversees the new recreational marijuana law, some control over medical marijuana… .
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OLYMPIA — Medical marijuana patients bashed a proposal by state agencies to change current state laws on the drug as everything from unworkable to unconstitutional at a morning legislative hearing. Legislators also sharply questioned staff from the Liquor Control Board and the Department of Health on proposals to reduce the amount of marijuana patients could grow or possess, and shift them to the upcoming recreational marijuana stores to be licensed later this year.
Local officials and lobbyists for law enforcement and the medical community, however, urged the House Health Care and Wellness Committee to pass the bill and give them clear guidelines for dealing with patients who use the drug.
HB 2149 is supported the liquor board which regulates recreational marijuana and would require medical marijuana patients to register with the state after getting a recommendation from a health care provider. That's a violation to a person's constitutional right against self-incrimination and federal laws that make medical information private, Jerry Dierker, a patient, said.
“We are self-regulating. We have created a system that does work for us,” Stephanie Viskovich of the Cannabis Action Coalition said.
Rep. Shelly Short, R-Addy, questioned the rationale for reducing the amount of marijuana patients currently can have from 24 ounces to three ounces. Kristi Weeks of the Health Department said the current limits were developed when patients would have no other access to the drug than produce it themselves or in a cooperative garden, and needed to have enough “to get you through to your next harvest.”
“It's no longer the need with the new recreational market,” Weeks said.
Rep. Matt Manweller, R-Ellensburg,questioned a provision that would ban home grows after 2020, essentially creating a monopoly for stores licensed by the liquor board after that time. Weeks said, however, that a study would be done in 2019 to recommend whether the ban should be lifted.
“It is ridiculous to ask patients to wait for a five-year study,” said Ryan Agnew of C Squared Public Affairs, who added that a registry amounts to “mission creep” for state agencies..
Medical marijuana patients who filled two committee rooms told the panel they doubted the recreational market would succeed and those products will be heavily taxed. But Washington doesn't tax medicine and marijuana is a recognized botanical medicine, Kari Boiter of Health Before Happy Hour, a medical marijuana group, said.
Recreational marijuana is different from medical marijuana, patients also said. The former is rich in a chemical that produces the euphoric “high”, the latter is rich in different chemicals that reduce pain or nausea, and the recreational stores might not stock it.
Don Pierce, a lobbyist who represents sheriffs and police chiefs, said the state's separate laws on recreational and medical marijuana have to be reconciled for law enforcement. “We need to know whose rules apply to whom,” he said.
Washington should severely cut the amount of marijuana that medical patients can possess, require them to register with the state, have annual medical checkups, and pay most of the same taxes as recreational users, a state agency recommended today.
In a move sure to draw fire from the medical marijuana community, the state Liquor Control Board released recommendations it will send to next year's Legislature as the state tries to blend two sets of laws on the drug.
The board is authorized by Initiative 502 to regulate recreational marijuana use, and is currently accepting applications for businesses that want to grow, process or sell the drug to adults for private use. The board has no authority over medical marijuana, which was approved by voters in 1998, and is largely unregulated.
As part of the 2013-15 general operating budget earlier this year, the Legislature directed the board to work with the state departments of Health and Revenue to study the two systems and come up with recommendations to integrate them. Legislators will still have to draft bills that would include some or all of the recommendations, and get them through the two chambers and signed by Gov. Jay Inslee.
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OLYMPIA – A proposal by state agencies to overhaul Washington’s medical marijuana system, restricting access and toughening requirements for patients, was immediately criticized by some advocates for the drug.
Staff from the state Health and Revenue departments, along with the Liquor Control Board which will run the state's new recreational marijuana industry, Monday released four pages of recommendations that would essentially rewrite a 15-year-old law that allows patients to use and grow the drug if they have with certain medical conditions.
For details on the proposals, go inside the blog.
The state’s 15-year-old medical marijuana law was never intended to allow people to make a profit by selling the drug to patients, a task force of officials from several agencies told a legislative committee. Dispensaries aren’t even mentioned in the law.
“These dispensaries are absolutely illegal, criminal operations,” said Rep. Chris Hurst, D-Enumclaw, chairman of the House Government Oversight and Accountability Committee. “What's it going to take to shut all these down?”
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Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Three medical marijuana advocates from southwest Idaho say their children were placed into state foster care after law enforcement searched their home and found marijuana. KTVB-TV reports (http://bit.ly/14J4AHT ) when Lindsey and Josh Rinehart came home from a trip last week, their babysitter was home but their two sons were gone. The Rineharts and Sarah Caldwell — who also had two sons placed into foster care — are members of Compassionate Idaho, a group focused on legalizing marijuana for medical uses. No charges have been filed, but authorities say all three are being investigated for drug trafficking and possession. Lindsey Rinehart denied the claims, adding said she has multiple sclerosis and uses cannabis to treat her illness. But she says she intends to quit in hopes of getting her sons back.
The Idaho Statesman has a full report today; you can read it here. In it, reporter Sven Berg reports that the Boise Police said officers removed Rinehart’s 5- and 10-year-old sons from her custody because they considered them to be in danger. “It's a decision that's not made lightly. It's not made very often,” Boise Police spokeswoman Lynn Hightower said. “But it is the detectives' call.” The police said officers went to Rinehart's home after an 11-year-old at a local school reported being sick; the child had eaten marijuana, reportedly from Rinehart's home. Police said the baby sitter allowed the officers to enter the house, where they “found drug paraphernalia, items commonly used to smoke marijuana and a quantity of a substance that appeared to be marijuana” within reach of the children, Hightower told the Statesman.
The Boise Weekly also has a full report today; you can read it here. The Weekly's Andrew Crisp reports that Rinehart and her husband, Josh, went public over the case, speaking out on the Statehouse steps yesterday and questioning why police declared their sons in “imminent danger” and placed them in foster care. “We're taking issue with the 'imminent danger' charge,” Lindsey Rinehart said. “I am a multiple sclerosis patient. The reason I had cannabis in my household is I'm a multiple sclerosis patient.”
Rinehart has been prominent in the debate over medical marijuana in Idaho, testifying repeatedly and passionately to legislative committees in favor of legalizing the drug for medical use. Rather than take that step, state lawmakers this year passed a resolution declaring that Idaho will never legalize marijuana for any use.
OLYMPIA — Changes to last year's recreational marijuana law that a sponsor says will make it more workable will get a hearing next week in a House committee
Rep. Christopher Hurst, D-Enumclaw, wants to shrink the distance restrictions for locating stores that sell marijuana and have the state sell store licenses at market rates to raise more money.
Under Initiative 502, a store selling recreational marijuana must be at least 1,000 feet from schools, parks and other institutions. That would so severely restrict possible locations that large areas of cities would be closed off, Hurst said. Spokane might have as few as nine locations where a store could be located, he said.
His proposal would change the restriction to 500 feet, which is currently the restriction for liquor stores.
“If we don't make it available, the criminal market is going to fill those gaps,” he said.The goal of I-502 is to drive the illegal market for marijuna out of the state, he added.
I-502 also sets a licensing fee of $1,000 for a marijuana store. Hurst's bill would allow the state Liquor Control Board to set a market value on the right to sell marijuana, which could be much higher, depending on the location. The right to set up a store in a high-end shopping mall should be worth more than the right to set up a storefront operation in a small town, he said.
He estimated the market certificate system could raise as much as $50 million for the state's general operating fund.
The bill is scheduled for a hearing next Tuesday in Hurst's Government Overssight and Accountability Committee. Because it contains potential tax revenues that could help the budget, it does not face impending deadlines to be passed by one chamber or the other to remain viable.
But it will require two-thirds approval in both chambers, because it seeks to change a successful initiative less than two years after it was passed by voters.
OLYMPIA – Washington will soon have two very different systems for legal marijuana, but a plan to tax medical patients similar to recreational pot users is unfair and unworkable, a legislative committee was told Monday.
The proposal to place higher taxes on medical marijuana did what a long-time cannabis advocate said once was unthinkable. It is turning a normally dysfunctional family of regular marijuana users into “normal citizens, complaining about taxation,” Jeff Gilmore told the House Finance Committee . . .
OLYMPIA — Forums on the state's new legalized marijuana law are proving so popular that the state agency sponsoring is adding to its schedule and in some cases finding bigger venues to handle the expected crowds.
The State Liquor Control Board also moved one forum to Tacoma after a legislator wondered why the state's second largest county was being ignored, and its residents were having to drive to Seattle or Olympia to have their say.
The Liquor Control Board originally scheduled six forums around Washington to discuss how the state should set up legailzed production, processing and sale of marijuana after the approval last November of Initiative 502. Among its forums is a Feb. 12 Spokane event; it's still starts at 6 p.m. in the City Council Chambers, 808 W. Spokane Falls Blvd.
Forums in Olympia and Seattle attracted overflow crowds, so the board changed to larger locations for the forums scheduled in Mount Vernon, Yakima and Vancouver. It added a forum for March 7 in Bremerton.
Today the board announced it is moving a second forum planned for Olympia to Tacoma on Feb. 21, and holding it in the Convention Center.
At a recent legislative hearing for the board to explain the work being done to set the rules for growing and selling a federally illegal substance legally in Washington, Sen. Randi Becker, R-Eatonville, asked why no forum had been scheduled anywhere in Pierce County.
“I would formally request that you add that,” Becker said to Rick Garza, the control board's point man on preparing for legalized pot.
Three days later, the board announced a schedule change, an acknowledgement of Becker's logic or her position as chairwoman of the Health Care Committee. Or both.
OLYMPIA — Washington is in danger of having two different, and sometimes conflicting, marijuana laws, one for those who have it for medical uses and one for everyone else, legislators were told today.
The Senate Health Care Committee is considering a revision to the medical marijuana laws which would try again to clarify how the state would regulate the drug under a 1998 initiative. Among the questions, how does the state designate someone as a qualified patient, and how does that patient get marijuana now that a 2012 initiative says everyone can use small amounts of marijuana for recreational use.
Washington is the only state that has a medical marijuana law that does not also have some sort of state registry from patients who have some type of doctor's approval for using the drug. Senate Bill 5528 would require patients to have an authorization card on some type of tamper-proof paper, but no registry.
A registry, which would have a patient's name and address and could be made public, “could be just a roadmap for burglars,” Arthur West, a medical marijuana advocate, told the committee.
The State Liquor Control Board is setting up a system for marijuana to be grown, processed and sold in Washington under last year's Initiative 502. But the stores licensed by the control board will be separate from marijuana dispensaries that have sprung up to supply medical marijuana. And the 502 recreational marijuana will be taxed at a higher rate than medical marijuana.
“That's part of the mess we have right now,” Alison Holcomb, drug policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union-Washington, told the committee.
Medical marijuana advocates said any identification system for patients should be handled by the state Health Department, not the Liquor Control Board.
SB 5528 is the latest attempt to clear up the state's medical marijuana rules. A 2011 effort passed the Legislature only to be gutted by partial vetoes by Gov. Chris Gregoire as federal officials were cracking down on dispensaries. Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, who has sponsored many of the legislative attempts to bring clarity to the medical marijuana law, likened the process to the movie “Groundhog's Day” but said I-502 created a “huge change” that has to be addressed.
It's not enough to say medical marijuana patients can simply buy their drug from state-sanctioned recreational marijuna stores, she said. “Some people are not able to go to a store. They are very, very ill.”
Medical marijuana users are able to grow their own drugs, and have up to 24 ounces of it on hand. Recreational marijuana users cannot grow their own, and are limited to 1 ounce.
In Senate Joint Memorial 8000, the Legislature would ask the federal government to reclassify marijuana from a Schedule 1 drug, which means it has no legal use, to a Schedule 2 drug, which would allow it to be prescribed for certain medical conditions. That might help medical marijuana patients, but would have not provide any protections to recreational marijuana users.
Most people would agree that marijuana shouldn't be lumped with other Schedule 1 drugs like heroin and LSD, Kohl-Welles said.
But some marijuana advocates said the state should go farther. Catherine Jeter said the public doesn't need to be protected from marijuana: There is no need for rescheduling. Deschedule it.”
Two men were arrested for a gunpoint robbery in Spokane Valley on Sunday that the victim said targeted medical marijuana.
Veniamin Glushchenko, 20, and Krysta Rose Jones, 21, are accused of robbing a man at a home in the 17400 block of East Coach Avenue.
Deputies responded to the home about 6:40 p.m. They located the suspect vehicle at the Hico at 1201 N. Barker Road and were told a man and woman had committed the robbery for a drug debt, according to court documnets.
An employee at Hico reported seeing a man and woman at the store about the time the car was discovered. The employee called 911 about 3 a.m. and said the man and woman were at the WalMart.
Deputies arrested Jones and Glushchenko there and booked them into jail for first-degree robbery, where they remain today.
A Spokane man who was shot in the head while trying to steal marijuana plants from a home last fall has sentenced to prison.
Joseph A. Gariepy, 41, was shot by Darcee Kapfer as he and Raymond Paul Bates, 49, tried to steal marijuana plants from Kapfer's home at 1023 E. Gordon Ave. on Oct. 3. He was sentenced to more than 7 years in prison last week after pleading guilty to eight felonies.
Kapfer, who was legally allowed to possess the plants because of a state authorization card, is not facing charges. She did not notify police about the shooing but said in an interview with detectives that she shot the would-be thief after he grabbed a piece of wood. Kapfer reportedly told police, “I'm pretty sure I hit him. I'm a pretty good shot.”
Bates was arrested Oct. 3 with a gunshot wound to his head; a tipster later told police she'd removed a bullet from Gariepy's head shortly after the shooting.
Police compared Gariepy's DNA to blood stains found in the getaway car, a brown 1976 Ford Courier truck located near an alley in the 4500 block of North Division Street three days after the shooting.
Officers noted a wound on Gariepy's right ear consistent with a bullet when he was arrested Oct. 27.
Gariepy was sentenced last week to 87 months in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree burglary, second-degree robbery, residential burglary, second-degree theft, first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm, possession of an unlawful firearm, first-degree possession of stolen property and second-degree malicious mischief. He is a repeat offender suspect with a 26-year criminal history, according to Crime Stoppers.
Bates was sentenced in December to 33 months in prison after pleading guilty to possession of a controlled substance, second-degree robbery and residential burglary.
Forty percent of marijuana seizures in Idaho consist of Oregon medical marijuana, according to Idaho State Police records - legal in that state in the right circumstances, but not for anyone across the border in Idaho. On the stretch of I-84 where ISP Trooper Justin Klitch patrols, it's 53 percent, the AP reports. That's led to an odd phenomenon on the Idaho border, in which longtime Idahoans risk arrest to go home from picking up their pot in Oregon, and they often get caught. “It's like crossing the Berlin Wall,” an Idaho woman told AP reporter Nigel Duara. “It's like going into another country.” Click below for Duara's full report.
A Spokane man who police say would have killed a man had his gun not malfunctioned has been charged with attempted murder.
Carlos Himminez “Atlanta” Hodges, 38, was armed with a handgun when he confronted Kenneth Watkins at Watkins' home in the 1000 block of East 14th Avenue on Dec. 23, charges allege.
Hodges, who allegedly kicked in the front door about 4:38 a.m., demanded Watkins take him to his medical marijuana grow and hit Watkins with the gun when Watkins tried to disarm him, according to court documents.
Hodges stole marijuana, police say, but Watkins said he refused to take him to the basement because he feared Hodges would kill him there.
“Hodges then pointed the gun at Watkins and pulled the trigger, but the gun did not discharge,” according to court documents. “Hodges then ran away.”
Police completed their investigation in April. Hodges was charged this month with attempted first-degree murder, first-degree burglary, second-degree assault and attempted first-degree robbery. He remains in jail on $150,000 bond after appearing in Spokane County Superior Court last week.
Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) ― An effort to get voters to decide whether to legalize medical marijuana in Idaho has been snuffed out. Compassionate Idaho Lindsey Rinehart says the Boise-based group fell far short of the 47,500 signature needed for a ballot initiative this fall. Rinehart tells KTVB-TV (http://bit.ly/Io7NS2) the campaign struggled to overcome challenges for funding and advertising, and ultimately collected only about 5,000 signatures from registered voters. Still, Rinehart says public surveys show support for medical marijuana in Idaho. Leaders of the group intend launch another campaign to get the question before voters in 2014. Idaho is surrounded by states like Washington, Oregon and Montana that have legalized the use of marijuana for medical reasons. Republican Rep. Tom Trail failed again this year to get a bill legalizing medical marijuana approved by lawmakers.
OLYMPIA — Two more initiatives to legalize private use of marijuana hit the streets this week, as proponents of what's being dubbed the Cannabis Child Protection Act employ a two-pronged strategy.
They've drafted identical bills, one as an initiative to the voters for this fall's ballot and another as an initiative to next year's Legislature. If they collect signatures on both for the next three months, but if they don't have enough signatures on the first by early July, they'll scrap it and keep collecting signatures on the legislative initiative, which has a January deadline.
The proposal allows people 21 and older to grow, possess and use marijuana, and buy it from any other adult of their choosing. But it has penalties for minors who buy, sell or possess the drug, and felony charges for adults who sell to minors. There are exceptions for parents, giving them “the ability to guide their children's exposure for spiritual and social use”, and for medical marijuana patients.
Text of I-1223, the version that's trying to get on the November ballot, can be found here.
Voters already will face one marijuana initiative in the general election. I-502, which is a different approach to legalizing marijuana for personal use, was an initiative to the Legislature which goes to the voters because legislators failed to act on it.
A medical marijuana patient arrested in Yakima Monday told authorities he provided marijuana to his three young children.
Troy Mallard Craig, 32, said two of his children also have medical marijuana cards, according to a complaint filed today in U.S. District Court.
Agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration executed a search warrant at Craig's home in the 3300 block of Barge Street about 4:15 p.m. and seized 67 marijuana plants, bags of processed marijuana, a digital scale and several medical marijuana cards.
Craig said he'd been growing marijuana for about two years and giving it to five or six friends in exchange for “donations.”
“Craig admitted to providing marijuana in one form or another to all three of his children, ages 2, 5, and 7,” according to the complaint.
Craig remains jailed in Yakima after appearing before U.S. Magistrate James Hutton Tuesday.
Gingrich answers questions at an Olympia press conference.
OLYMPIA — Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said he thinks allowing same-sex couples to marry is wrong, but the path Washington is taking to change its law is right.
Voters should have a chance to decide the issue, rather than the courts, Gingrich said. The Legislature passed, and Gov. Chris Gregoire signed, a bill to allow same-sex marriage but opponents have filed a referendum that would delay the law and block it if they gather enough signatures by June 6.
“I don't agree with it. If I were voting, I'd vote no,” Gingrich said during a break in meetings with Republican legislators this morning. “But at least they're doing it the right way.”
During a later news conference with local reporters, the Republican presidential candidate said he's changed his mind on medical marijuana and no longer supports efforts to have the federal government reclassify the drug so it could be prescribed for certain conditions.
He did support such reclassification in the 1980s, he said, but changed his position: “I was convinced by parents who didn't want any suggestion made to their children that drugs were appropriate.”
States don't have the right to pass medical marijuana laws and then allow some sort of distribution system to be set up, he added. “I think the federal government has been very clear… that federal law trumps state law.”
This Year of the Dragon is starting out on a real high. Monday night, for example, our new so-called “conservative” Spokane City Council agreed unanimously that medical marijuana should be legal and available to those who need it. So give council members big hookah huzzahs for standing up to the federal government’s pot paranoia. Being weed free means my knowledge on this subject is limited to Seth Rogen movies. But I know enough to see medical marijuana as the municipal bong, I mean, boon we’ve all been praying for. Until they were so rudely shut down by the feds last year, medical marijuana dispensaries were about to become an even bigger growth industry than towing cars out of Browne’s Addition/Doug Clark, SR. More here.
Question: The Spokane City Council supports medical marijuana. Gov. Butch Otter doesn't. Who's right?