washington state

Washington: Liquor Control Board Bans 'Legal' Marijuana From Bars


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Marijuana's supposed to be legal now in Washington state, but apparently it's not as legal as alcohol. The Washington State Liquor Control Board on Wednesday adopted a rule change making it illegal for any business with a liquor license to allow on-premises cannabis consumption of any kind.

The rule change goes into effect 30 days from unanimously board vote, according Liquor Control Board spokesman Mikhail Carpenter, reports Jeremy Pawloski at The Olympian. That would mean that marijuana smokers who light up in Frankie's Sports Pub in Olympia will be breaking the law after January 17.

Frankie's, for a year now, has allowed bar patrons to smoke weed in an upstairs private room. Owner Frank Schnarr says that members can legally smoke there after Washington state voters approved I-502, making it legal for adults 21 and older to possess and use up to an ounce of marijuana.

Washington bars -- that is, except for Frankie's -- ban smoking of any kind, but Schnarr won a legal battle to allow his patrons to smoke tobacco in an upstairs room, if they pay $10 annual dues to become "Friends of Frankie's."

Business is booming at the bar since he started allowing marijuana smoking, Schnarr said. There are now about 13,500 "Friends of Frankie's," he said.

Schnarr said he planned to ignore the Liquor Control Board rule change. Carpenter said the LCB will enforce the rule.

Washington: Study Says State Marijuana Users Smoked 6 Million Ounces In 2013


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Washington state marijuana users smoked more than 6 million ounces of pot this year, according to an official government study.

The RAND Corp. study, aimed at figuring out how much cannabis is smoked by heavy users on a typical day, was released on Wednesday. A team of researchers calculated that the Evergreen State's roughly 750,000 marijuana users will have consumed between 135 and 225 metric tons of weed in 2013, reports Gene Johnson at the Associated Press.

The team came up with the median figure of 175 metric tons, which is 6 million ounces, enough for about 340 million half-gram joints, or 170 million the way I roll 'em.

According to the RAND study, "Before the Grand Opening," half the weed in the state is consumed in just its three most populous counties: King County (which includes Seattle) uses about 30 percent of Washington's marijuana, while Pierce to the north and Snohomish to the south smoke about 11 percent each.

Washington: Seattle City Council Committee Approves $27 Fine For Smoking Marijuana In Public


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Smoking marijuana in public is still against the law in Washington state, even under legalization measure I-502, but it won't cost you very much, at least in Seattle.

Seattle City Council members in a Wednesday committee vote approved a $27 fine for public cannabis smoking. The full council is expected to approve the action on Monday, reports Bob Young at The Seattle Times.

City Attorney Pete Holmes had at first suggested $50 fines. When administrative fees were added, the total cost of a public pot-smoking fine could have reached $103.

The lower fines, sponsored by Councilmember Nick Licata, were meant to match the penalty for illegally drinking alcohol in public.

The council asked that Seattle Police Department officers give people a warning before fining someone for smoking marijuana in public, which is prohibited under I-502.

The ordinance would also require that police log the age, race and gender of everyone fined for smoking pot in public, and the locations of the violations. Police would be required to report these findings every six months.

The five council members who are also members of the Housing, Human Services, Health and Culture Committee -- Licata, Sally Bagshaw, Tim Burgess, Sally Clark, and Bruce Harrell -- voted unanimously for the fine.

Washington: Board Reverses Itself; Recommends Medical Marijuana Patients Can Grow At Home


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

In a major victory for the medical marijuana community, the Washington State Liquor Control Board, under heavy patient pressure, on Wednesday reversed itself, signaling they will recommend to lawmakers that medical marijuana patients continue to be allowed to grow cannabis in their homes.

The LCB's previous recommendation that home growing be outlawed, in order to force patients to conform to recreational legalization measure I-502, had produced outrage in Washington's medical marijuana community. I-502 is the recreational cannabis legalization measure approved last year by state voters.

Board members now say they recommend that patients, or their designated providers, be allowed to grow up to six plants, three flowering and three nonflowering, reports Bob Young at The Seattle Times. Currently, patients are allowed to grow up to 15 plants at any stage of growth. Unexplained was why the 15-plant limit -- reached by the Legislature after extensive discussion -- was abandoned.

"We're all in agreement on home grows," said chair Sharon Foster of the three-member board. Members on Wednesday worked on changes they'd like to make to their recommendations, but didn't take formal action.

Washington: State Gets More Applications For Growing Marijuana Than For Selling It


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Based on the first week's worth of applications, Washington state has more than enough people interested in getting licenses to grow marijuana. But so far there are applications for fewer than half the number of cannabis stores allowed by state regulations.

The application period for those who want to grow, process or sell marijuana in Washington state under the implementation of legalization measure Initiative 502 began on November 18, reports Jim Camden at the Spokane Spokesman-Review. Applications are filed with the state Department of Revenue, which processes the requests before sending them on to the Washington State Liquor Control Board.

The LCB is in charge of implementing and regulating recreational marijuana sales. On Tuesday, it released the names and locations from the 922 applications filed during the first week (for the list, click "Marijuana License Applicants" on this page. The Board said it will grant up to 334 retail licenses statewide, with limits in each county. So far 158 applications have been received for retail licenses; no applications have been received so far from 14 counties.

The amount of space allowed to be devoted to growing marijuana, statewide, has been limited to 2 million feet by the Board. Submitted applications from the first week alone for growing licenses total almost 6.8 million square feet.

Washington: Cannabis Activist Group Going After Governor On Medical Marijuana


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A Seattle-based medical marijuana patient advocacy group, the Cannabis Action Coalition, has filed a recall petition against Governor Jay Inslee with state Attorney General Bob Ferguson's office.

The petition alleges corruption related to the Washington State Liquor Control Board's implementation of cannabis legalization Initiative 502.

"It's pretty clear that no matter which party prevails, the losing party will file an expedited appeal with the Washington State Supreme Court, said activist Steve Sarich, who heads up the CAC. "The best information we have is that this could happen within 10 days of the Superior Court decision."

Sarich was a guest on Tuesday's "Mike Bastinelli Show." Sarich talked about the flaws in I-502 that will affect medical marijuana patients in Washington, and the group's allegations against Gov. Inslee.

Sarich ran the No On I-502 campaign. He opposed the measure because of its per se DUI level of 5 nanograms of THC of milliliter of blood (5 ng/mg), which is not a true level of impairment; because it didn't remove any of the laws that made marijuana illegal in the first place (in fact, it added several new ways you can be arrested for cannabis); and because it will result in the over-taxation of medical marijuana, because of claims that the MMJ community is cutting into the revenue stream of proposed recreational marijuana outlets.

Washington: City Returns 6 Pounds of Marijuana to Patients


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A group of medical marijuana patients in Lynnwood, Washington, this week got more than six pounds of cannabis back from the police after it was seized more than a year ago. Also returned were 202 dead marijuana plants.

The Lynnwood Police Department seized the marijuana, along with lights and other growing equipment, in a May 2012 raid, reports The Associated Press. The patients were following Washington's medical marijuana law, attorney Aaron A. Pelley said, and no criminal charges were filed.

Pelley and two other attorneys demanded that city officials return the items, or pay nearly $1 million, the estimated value of the property. The mayor didn't like the sound of that, and signed off on the return of the marijuana.

Pelley picked up the marijuana on Tuesday. He said it's no longer good for smoking, but it might still be usable to make cannabis oil or marijuana-infused products.

The police weren't pleased that they had to return the weed, according to Deputy Chief Byran Stanifer, but also didn't want to face a lawsuit.

(Photo: KING 5)

Washington: BioTrackTHC Named State's Legal Marijuana Tracing System


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB) has selected the firm BioTrackTHC, a division of Bio-Tech Medical Software, Inc., to provide a legal marijuana traceability system to the agency.

Accurately tracking cannabis throughout the entire supply chain (you'd think the stuff was radioactive by how much officials stress over it) is a major component of I-502, Washington's limited legalization initiative approved by voters last year.

BioTrackTHC's tracing system will assist the WSLCB with tracking and monitoring all marijuana cultivation, processing, testing, and retail transaction data by cannabis licensees through the supply chain to help prevent diversion, "promote public safety" (what are they gonna do, make sure a bale of it doesn't fall on someone?) and collect tax revenue (ah, so THAT's why they're so worried about it).

The WSLCB directly notified 785 vendors about the contract opportunity for tracing marijuana; out of 22 proposals submitted, BioTrackTHC was the highest scoring bidder, 1041.65 out of a possible 1200.

"We are absolutely thrilled," said Steven Siegel, CEO of BioTrackTHC. "We are very grateful to all of our existing clients, partners, and other industry friends who have given us invaluable feedback and insights into making BioTrackTHC the most robust and accurate seed-to-sale system on the market.

Washington: Medical Marijuana Advocates Mobilize To Protect Patient Rights Under I-502


Liquor Control Board Announces Its Intention To Ban All Personal Cultivation and Collective Gardens; Eliminate Affirmative Defense; Void All Current Doctors' Authorizations

"Health Before Happy Hour" campaign seeks state legislation to protect patient rights, preserve and license dispensaries

Medical marijuana advocates will hold stakeholder meetings across Washington State next week in advance of submitting written public comments on regulations being developed for I-502, the state's recreational marijuana initiative passed last November. Meetings hosted by the Washington chapter of Americans for Safe Access (ASA) will be held from October 27th-30th in Bellingham, Olympia, Seattle, Spokane, and Yakima.

Beginning Monday, a working group established by I-502, which includes the Liquor Control Board, the Department of Health, and the Department of Revenue, will be accepting public input on draft regulations between October 21-November 8.

Among the work group’s proposed changes:
• Ban all personal cultivation and collective gardens
• Lower possession limit from 24 ounces to 3 ounces
• Eliminate the affirmative defense for proving medical necessity above possession limits
• Void all current doctors’ recommendations and require new evaluations under harder-to-meet definitions of qualifying conditions
• Restrict medical professionals to eliminate specialty cannabis practices and make recommendations equivalent to prescribing opiates

Washington: Liquor Control Board Adopts Rules For Marijuana Legalization Under I-502


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Washington State Liquor Control Board this week will file the CR103 for Initiative 502, the marijuana legalization measure approved by state voters last November. Filing the CR103 is the formal procedure for adoption of the proposed rules to implement I-502, and is the final step in the rule-making process.

After first announcing that the CR103 would be filed on Wednesday, the WSLCB a few hours later sent out another announcement saying that it will be filed "later this week."

"Due to the need to incorporate the large number of public comments into the concise explanatory statement that must be sent to stakeholders prior to filing the CR103, the Board will file the CR103 later this week," the second announcement reads. "The WSLCB will still begin accepting applications on November 18."

The rules become effective 30 days after adoption, which is where the November 18 date originates.

"Over these last several months we have put together a comprehensive system of rules which will serve as the foundation for this new industry," said Board Chair Sharon Foster. "This has been a very open process of rule-making with public involvement each step of the way.

"We appreciate all of the support and involvement we've had from Gov. [Jay] Inslee, local officials, law enforcement, industry members and Washington citizens along the way," she ssaid.

The Board claims the adopted rules achieve its stated goal of implementing a "tightly regulated and controlled" recreational marijuana market.

Washington: Mom of Man Who Died In Jail On Pot Charge Sues, Seeks $10 Million


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The mother of a Washington state man who died in jail after turning himself in on a minor marijuana charge has filed a notice of claim against Snohomish County, indicating she will seek $10 million in a lawsuit.

Just months after the death of Michael Saffioti, 22, Washington state voters legalized recreational marijuana. It took only one day in jail for Saffioti, who suffered from severe allergies, to die once he was jailed, reports Nina Shapiro at the Seattle Weekly.

Saffioti had an extreme allergy to dairy products, as well as asthma; according to his mother, Rose, Michael felt better when he used marijuana.

He didn't have his medical marijuana authorization, though, which led to a pot possession charge for which he turned himself in.

Michael had already spent time in jail for marijuana. During a previous stay, other inmates called him "Bubble Boy" because his food was wrapped in plastic because of his allergies, reported The Everett Herald last year.

But something went wrong after Saffioti turned himself in to the Lynwood Police Department. An officer at Lynwood noted his health conditions, including the severe dairy allergy, and "determined that he could not be properly supervised at the city jail due to his medical issus." He was transferred to Snohomish County Jail.

Washington: Bank of America Will Accept Marijuana Money


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

One of the biggest hurdles which, for years, has plagued the medical marijuana industry is the lack of access to banking services for cannabis businesses. Financial institutions just haven't been willing to accept them as customers, because under federal law, the government views handling money from cannabis transactions as "laundering drug profits."

Now with recreational legalization, the Washington State Liquor Control Board was in the same situation as has been faced for years by dispensaries, but now the Bank of America has agreed to let them deposit marijuana profits, reports The Huffington Post.

Bank of America has declared its willingness to deal with new marijuana related businesses, according to Jim McIntire, treasurer for the State of Washington.

"I mean, in fact, we're already taking some tax revenues, I believe, for medical marijuana," McIntire said. "So it's not a real issue in terms of their perception."

The Liquor Control Board's revenue stream will kick into gear this fall via applications for three different types of marijuana licenses -- growing, processing, and retailing -- and it will need a place to deposit all that money.

McIntire said his office has already had discussions, and that "Bank of America is fine with that," going to to say "they assure us that's not a problem for them."

(Photo: Marijuana.com)

Washington: Liquor Control Board Picks Firm For Seed-To-Sale Marijuana Tracking


BioTrackTHC to Provide Traceability Software

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB) on Friday announced that BioTrackTHC is the apparent successful proposer to provide traceability software to the agency for its "seed-to-sale" marijuana tracking program. ("Apparent successful proposer" is the official term until contract terms are finalized.)

The traceability software will be able to trace cannabis products from start to sale and allows the WSLCB to monitor and track any plant or product in the system at any time. Accurately tracking licensee transactions and products is a major public safety component of Initiative 502.

Based in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, BioTrackTHC is a software company which designs, develops and supports marijuana specific seed-to-sale inventory control systems. Their software is deployed in nearly 200 marijuana operations across seven states, the District of Columbia and Canada.

BioTrackTHC scored 1041.65 points out of a maximum of 1200, making them the highest scoring bidder, according to the WSLCB.

“Announcing the selection of a vendor for our traceability system is one more piece of the puzzle in creating a tightly controlled and regulated cannabis system for the state of Washington,” said I-502 Project Manager Randy Simmons.

Next Steps

There is a brief protest period where unsuccessful bidders can challenge the decision. The WSLCB will move simultaneously to negotiate the contract.

Washington: State Supreme Court Upholds Medical Necessity Defense For Growing Marijuana


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

In a landmark case with far-reaching implications, a divided Washington state Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a medical necessity defense in a marijuana cultivation case against a man who was fined $4,000 three years ago for growing 42 plants. According to the decision, a prior medical marijuana authorization is not necessary in order to claim a medical necessity defense for cannabis.

The narrow 5-4 ruling sends the case of William Kurtz back to Thurston County Superior Court for further action, reports Brad Shannon at The Olympian. Kurtz -- who uses a wheelchair due to a medical condition that causes him chronic pain -- was fined but not sent to jail by Judge Carol Murphy in October 2010, reported Jeremy Pawloski of The Olympian at that time.

The majority decision was written by Chief Justice Barbara Madsen, joined by Justices Charles Johnson, Debra Stephens and Steven Gonzalez and Justice Pro Tem Tom Chambers.

Washington: State Makes 1,000-Foot Marijuana Store Rule More Restrictive


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Prospective locations for legal marijuana stores under Washington state's legalization law, I-502, just got harder to find. The 1,000-foot buffer required between cannabis businesses and schools, playgrounds, parks and arcades will now be measured in a straight line, "as the crow flies," rather than along customary paths of travel such as streets and sidewalks.

The Washington State Liquor Control Board, in charge of implementing cannabis legalization in the state, has announced they will file an emergency rule on October 16, updating the 1,000-foot buffer required between a licensed marijuana store and a school, playground, park, arcade, and other places where those under 21 are present, reports KXRO.

Under the current proposed rules, the 1,000 feet limit is to be measured "along the most direct route over or across established public walks, streets, or other public passageway between the proposed building/business location to the perimeter of the grounds," in other words the distance was measured using actual streets and sidewalks.

"We've since learned that this measurement, as it pertains to marijuana, conflicts with federal law," Liquor Control Board Director Rick Garza said. "Although the emergency rule won't be filed until October 16, it is critical that we announce our intentions now so that potential licensees, local government and law enforcement will have clarity and predictability going forward.

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