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OLYMPIA – The Legislature’s efforts to provide structure and regulations to Washington’s burgeoning medical marijuana operations could be snuffed out by a warning last week from the state’s federal prosecutors. A bill to require the state Agriculture Department to license medical marijuana growers and processors, and the state Health Department to license dispensaries, would run headlong into federal law, U.S. Attorneys Mike Ormsby in Spokane and Jenny Durkan in Seattle told Gov. Chris Gregoire in a letter Thursday.
As the Washington Legislature heads toward adoption of a bill that permits marijuana growing and distribution systems for medicinal use, federal prosecutors are loudly clearing their throats and reiterating that such a law would not prevent them from prosecuting activity it deems illegal. As a result, Gov. Chris Gregoire says she won’t sign the bill. Gregoire sent a query to the U.S. Attorney’s Office on Wednesday and got a tandem reply the next day from U.S. Attorneys Mike Ormsby of Spokane and Jenny Durkan of Seattle. They warned that anyone along the supply chain could be prosecuted and that dispensary property could be seized. Ormsby had issued an earlier warning, but the letter to the governor put the consequences in stark terms.
Spokane medical marijuana dealer Scott Q. Shupe will avoid prison on drug-trafficking charges, at least for now. “In this case it was clear you didn’t intend to break the law, which is in a state of flux as we speak,” Spokane County Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen said during a Tuesday sentencing hearing. “But the jury found you guilty. That’s what I’m stuck with.”
Medical marijuana dealer Scott Q. Shupe will avoid prison on drug-trafficking charges, at least for now.
OLYMPIA – Rules for growing, processing and selling medical marijuana passed the Washington state House of Representatives after heated debate Monday on whether the proposed law has enough safeguards to prevent sales to children. Supporters said it was an effort to be compassionate to the chronically ill and dying who have a doctor’s recommendation for, but no access to, a substance that will give them relief.
Medical marijuana dispensaries in Spokane face federal prosecution if they do not end their operations immediately, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday. Federal authorities hope for voluntary compliance but are prepared “for quick and direct action against the operators of the stores,” according to a statement by Mike Ormsby, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Washington.
Marijuana advocates still reeling from last week’s conviction of a medicinal pot supplier in Spokane are stepping up the pressure. Nearly three dozen demonstrators gathered Thursday outside of the federal courthouse in downtown Spokane, urging the removal of marijuana from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s list of drugs considered to have no medicinal value.
OLYMPIA – A new version of a plan to regulate the production and sale of medical marijuana in Washington is headed for a vote in the state House after narrowly passing a committee Wednesday. Now heavily amended, SB 5073 would allow the state Health Department to decide how many medical marijuana dispensaries could be located in each county, and would set up a lottery to obtain a license. There’s no guarantee the current dispensaries would receive a state license and stay in business after July 2012 when the new law takes effect, state Rep. Eileen Cody, D-West Seattle, said.
A Spokane jury rejected arguments Thursday that the state’s medical marijuana law allows for commercial dispensaries, convicting a supplier of multiple drug trafficking charges. Scott Q. Shupe, who co-owned one of the first marijuana dispensaries in Spokane, argued the state’s medical marijuana law enables dispensaries to supply card-carrying patients, provided they serve just one patient at a time.