U.S. Senate expected to take up measure restricting Justice Department funding for such prosecutions later this week
A new judge assigned to hear the widely watched federal medical marijuana case of the Kettle Falls Five has continued the federal trial scheduled to begin today in Spokane, Washington. Senior Judge Fred Van Sickle has been replaced by Judge Thomas O. Rice, who set a new trial date of February 23, 2015.
The change in trial date comes as the U.S. Senate plans to consider a measure later this week that would prohibit Department of Justice (DOJ) funds from being spent on medical marijuana enforcement in states where it's legal. Advocates say that federal prosecutions like the Kettle Falls Five, as well as pending asset forfeiture cases in California, would be impacted by the passage of such a measure.
After the House made its historic 219-189 vote in May to curb DOJ funding for medical marijuana enforcement, U.S. Senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) filed a similar budget amendment in the Senate. The bipartisan amendment filed in June is expected to be voted on in a House-Senate conference committee as early as Wednesday.
By Steve Elliott
“I never thought it’d be a problem to give money away,” said marijuana farmer Randy Williams, the owner of Fireweed Farm, just north of Prosser, Washington. School officials on Monday flatly turned down a $14,000 donation from Williams, claiming they were "taking a stand" against youth marijuana use.
"We're not taking it. End of story," snapped Ray Tolcacher, Prosser School District superintendent.
"That's a mistake on their end because they're not helping anything," Williams said after visiting the school district office last week to try to make the donation. Tolcacher, who was out at the time, called the would-be donor on the telephone on Monday to turn down the money.
Williams said his next choice for the donation is the Boys & Girls Club of Benton and Franklin Counties; that youth nonprofit will "evaluate internally," according to executive director Brian Ace. If they turn him down, he might offer the money to the VFW, Williams said, reports Ross Courtney of the Yakima Herald-Republic.
Williams, one of the few legally licensed marijuana farmers in Yakima Valley, promised at a first-ever marijuana auction November 15 at his farm to donate the proceeds of one "low-grade" lot to local schools. The weed brought in about $13,500; Williams kicked in the difference to make it an even $14K.
Latest ‘Consume Responsibly’ ads feature a young child looking at a glass of wine and cookies, and it reads: ‘Some juices and cookies are not for kids: Keep “adult snacks” locked up and out of reach’
The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) is launching billboards this week in Denver and Seattle that encourage parents to keep marijuana out of reach of children. The ads are part of a broader public education campaign urging adults to “consume responsibly” in states where marijuana is legal.
The billboards feature a child looking at what could be a glass of grape juice or a stemless glass of wine and a few cookies that might or might not be infused with marijuana. It reads, “Some juices and cookies are not meant for kids,” and urges them to, “Keep ‘adult snacks’ locked up and out of reach.”
MPP spokesperson Mason Tvert was accompanied at the Monday unveiling of the billboard by Jane West, a marijuana consumer and mother of two small children, who serves as director of Women Grow, a national organization dedicated to helping women influence and succeed in the cannabis industry.
“We need to treat marijuana like any other product that is legal for adults and not meant for children,” West said. “A marijuana-infused cookie might look like a regular cookie to my four-year-old, just as a glass of wine might look just like grape juice. Whether it’s marijuana, alcohol, or household cleaning products, it’s our job as parents to keep them locked up and out of reach.”
By Steve Elliott
Maine voters could be looking at not one but two marijuana legalization measures on the 2016 ballot, if two competing groups are both successful at qualifying for the ballot.
Legalize Maine, based in the northeastern part of the state, on Wednesday announced a plan to have its own measure on the ballot, joining the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), which has already announced its referendum, reports Sarah Delage atr WCSH.
Paul McCarrier of Legalize Maine said the group is focused on jobs. According to McCarrier, marijuana legalization would bring economic development to rural areas.
McCarrier said his group is moving forward with its own legalization plan after talking with people in other states who have worked with the Marijuana Policy Project.
"We are not interested in being subjugated to MPP or the Washington D.C. policy," McCarrier said. "These will be competing measures and we will win."
MPP, based in the District of Columbia, plans to put a similar question on the 2016 ballot. The group put the question to voters in Portland and South Portland, where it was approved, and in Lewiston, where voters rejected it.
"Ideally it makes sense to have one initiative," said David Boyer of MPP. "But if we can't see eye to eye then we will move forward and we hope voters choose the plan that will make marijuana legal and stop punishing adults for using a substance safer than alcohol."
Canna Ventures, a marketing and branding agency focused on the cannabis industry, on Wednesday will announce the publication of its first research report entitled “Cannabis Brand Development Study: Know Your Target Market.” According to the agency, the report is a first-of-its-kind national market research study that examines the evolving attitudes of consumers towards cannabis and goes on to define four distinct market segments which marketers of cannabis related businesses can reference when creating and developing their brand.
“The cannabis ecosystem is poised to rapidly accelerate in Washington and Colorado and perhaps several other states in the coming months," said Eric Layland, one of the co-founders of Canna Ventures, who will be presenting findings from the report at the Marijuana Business Conference & Expo taking place in Las Vegas on November 12-14. "However, many of these new businesses really don’t understand who their target market is and the traits they should take into consideration when developing a brand.”
“This survey was not intended to gauge the political views of respondents," Layland said. "Rather, the objective of this research was to gather perspectives on the lifestyle and desires of cannabis users and understand what drives their interaction and adoption of brands.”
The 17-page report provides a detailed look at the attitudes consumers have towards cannabis. Some of the key findings of the report include:
It’s been nearly two years since voters in Washington state passed Initiative 502. And it’s been more than two months since legalized retail cannabis finally became available in the state. Yet, something has remained missing – something consumers have been so eagerly awaiting, according to the Seattle-based Db3 Corporation.
Zoots premium cannabis infusions are now available at select licensed retailers in Washington state, "bringing with them," the company says, "the promise of changing the way people think about marijuana edibles." Zoots concentrated liquid drops, energy drinks and lozenges all feature proprietary blends, made with the highest quality ingredients, that the company says give consumers the power to control their own experiences, safely and enjoyably.
“This day has been a long time in the making, and we couldn’t be happier for the people of Washington State now that it is finally here,” said Michael Devlin, co-founder and president Db3, the maker of Zoots. “We worked long and hard to dot all our I’s and cross all our T’s so consumers can be assured of top quality edibles. To finally be able to bring such edibles to the market is a testament to our team’s hard work.”
With concerns in Colorado and Washington about dosage, THC levels and transparency, Zoots is the brand consumers can turn to when they want the freedom to control their own experiences, according to Devlin. Zoots proprietary blends bring something unique to the market, including packaging that provides consumers clear instructions on both serving size and usage, according Db3.
Second sheriff endorses Measure 91: “The evidence keeps coming in: Our new approach is working”
The Sheriff of King County, Washington, which includes the greater Seattle area, has taken the unprecedented step of endorsing a marijuana regulation measure on the ballot in the state next door.
King County Sheriff John Urquhart supported I-502, Washington state’s successful 2012 initiative to regulate marijuana, and he said he supports Oregon’s Measure 91 because, he said, Washington state’s regulated approach to marijuana is working.
“Month by month, tax dollars are going to schools and police, not the drug cartels,” Urquhart says in a new ad from Oregon’s Yes on 91 campaign (you can view the ad at the bottom of this article). “Wasteful arrests are way down. DUIs are down. Drug prevention programs are getting funds. Strict regulations are working.”
With the rapid growth of the medical marijuana industry in several states, as well as the recreational cannabis industry in Washington and Colorado, a vast number of businesses have sprouted to support, assist, and consult the companies that are actually involved with growing, processing, and selling the plant itself. Viridian Staffing, a recruiting agency based out of Seattle, is one such company.
Ganjapreneur, a cannabis industry business media outlet which launched over the summer, recently conversed with David Murét, co-founder of Viridian, to ask him some questions about the company and how it has helped connect marijuana businesses with job-seekers.
When asked what his favorite aspect of working in the cannabis industry was, Murét replied, "We would have to say the people. The industry has been such a magnet for dynamic free-thinking innovators who aren’t nearly as stiff and creatively stifled as you find in so many other, more established industries."
"We also love working in an industry which, on the whole, places such a high value on triple bottom line business practices, which are both socially responsible and environmentally sustainable, particularly here in the Pacific Northwest," Murét said.
The medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access (ASA) has produced a new 30-second online advertisement to launch its survey drive for for this year's election-cycle educational campaign. (You can view the ad at the bottom of this article.)
The ad will also air on this Sunday's morning TV cable news programs in Detroit, Philadelphia, Sacramento, South Florida, and Washington State. As part of its groundbreaking "Vote Medical Marijuana" campaign, ASA has sent out more than 2,000 candidate surveys to help patients and the general public make more informed electoral decisions based on candidates' positions on medical marijuana.
More than 100 candidates in federal and state races across the country have sent in responses so far. The "Vote Medical Marijuana" campaign will focus on as many as 435 U.S. House races, 36 U.S. Senate races, 36 gubernatorial races, and 31 state attorney general races, as well as more than 360 state legislative races in California, Florida, and Washington.
"We want to better educate supporters and the general public about casting their ballot for candidates who have their best interests in mind," said ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer. "We hope this outreach effort will show our country’s leading politicians how significant medical marijuana is to their election campaigns."
By Steve Elliott
Legal Pomegranate marijuana-infused soda has more bang for the buck than its manufacturers and distributors realized. The drink has been removed from three Washington marijuana stores after bottles started exploding on the shelves.
Top Shelf Cannabis in Bellingham took delivery of 330 bottles of the soda on September 28; employees said they were excited to promote it to their customers, reports Matt Markovich at KOMO News. They sold 10 bottles of the soda, made by Mirth Provisions of Longview, on the first day.
But when employees opened up the following day, they found broken bottles and shards of glass throughout the store. During the night, the bottles had begun to explode. The employees said they didn't realize just how dangerous was the situation until they saw and heard bottles randomly blow up.
"It sounded like a shotgun going off," said Top Shelf Cannabis manager Zach Henifin. "You can actually feel it; it was that explosive."
Henifin donned a face shield and protective garb and placed cartons of the unexploded soda in a dumpster-sized steel box outside the store. The "pot pop" continued to explode, inside the steel container, for the next 10 days.
"It's almost like a bomb box because they randomly go off during the day," Henifin said.
By Steve Elliott
At least 150 members of the Mount Calvary Christian Center -- who had initially welcomed the presence of a new business next door -- on Sunday held a protest shouting "shut it down" in front of a new retail marijuana store in Seattle.
The primarily black church had been happy to see once-rampant crime dwindle while new businesses open, said former associate pastor Wayne Perryman, but members realized just two weeks ago that the store involved was Uncle Ike's Pot Shop, reports Alexa Vaughn at The Seattle Times.
The store opened last Tuesday just a few feet from the south wall of the church, and conducts business during the church's services.
"We're talking to youth about how it's not OK to smoke pot, and outside, we've got this shop making a statement that opposes what we're teaching," said Perryman, who seems to have a little to learn regarding diversity and free speech.
While Washington state's marijuana laws prohibit pot shops from opening with 1,000 feet of elementary or secondary schools, playgrounds, recreation centers, child-care centers, public parks, transit centers, libraries or arcades that allow minors, it does not prevent them from opening next to churches.
For anyone considering going into business in the legal cannabis industry, a new free tool has arrived to the Google Play marketplace designed to make it easier to keep informed about industry news and developments. Ganjapreneur, a cannabis industry business news and culture website, has recently launched a mobile app designed to keep aspiring "ganjapreneurs," or marijuana entrepreneurs, up to date about the latest headlines and happenings that are relevant to the growth of the industry.
The app is broken down into several sections, including a news feed with categories such as "Business" and "Politics," a job feed which aggregates employment opportunities from several online cannabis industry job boards on a daily basis, and a section that features interviews with prominent business owners and investors who are already operational with their endeavors in the marijuana industry. While cannabis enthusiasts who use Android devices may download the app in its current form, iPhone users will have a similar opportunity in the near future: Ganjapreneur has put up a notification that the app will also soon be available in the Apple App Store.
By Steve Elliott
It's been almost two years since Washington's voters legalized marijuana, albeit in a limited way, through approving I-502, and next week a Seattle-based company will begin selling cannabis infused edibles to licensed retailers.
Db3 Inc. passed the Washington State Liquor Control Board's Infused Edible Operation Inspection, reports Alex Rozier at KING 5 News, and became the first company licensed to provide infused edibles in the state. The company's warehouse is located on the 2400 block of Airport Way South in SODO.
The cannabis-infused products will be marketed under the brand name Zoots; Db3 has a two-tier license that allows them to both grow and process marijuana, manufacturing the edibles.
The company says it will offer seven different products, with more added as time goes by. Some of the initial offerings will be single shots, drink additives, chews, bites and melts.
The single shot energy drinks will contain 5, 10, and 30 milligrams of THC (one wonders why a more substantial dose isn't included, but perhaps they hope to sell several of the 30-mg size to those who have a higher tolerance). The bites will be infused with 5 or 10 milligrams of THC.
For more information on Db3, visit www.zootology.com.
By Steve Elliott
With licensed producers of marijuana bringing in autumn's outdoor harvest, retailers who own the recreational cannabis stores created by limited legalization measure I-502 are hoping to lower prices enough to diminish the black market -- which was one of the main justifications for the law passed by state voters two years ago.
But the most that store owners like Mary Van de Graaf, owner of Mill Creek A, one of two licensed marijuana shops in Union Gap, can hope for is making a bit of a dent. "We'll slow it down, yeah,"
Van de Graaf said, reports Ross Courtney of the Yakima Herald-Republic.
So far, even I-502 store owners like Van de Graaf have to admit that legalizing recreational marijuana has done almost nothing to combat black market street sales, where dealers don't pay taxes or check the ages of their customers.
Washington's brand of limited "legalization" apparently hasn't yet made any dent at all in illegal grows. In fact, there's an increase this year in illegal grows on tribal lands, public lands and in back yards, according to Jodie Underwood, a spokeswoman for the federal Drug Enforcement Administration's regional office in Seattle.
On Monday, law enforcement confiscated 20 pounds of processed marijuana and 43 plants in Zillah, Washington; police arrested two men the same day for stealing medical marijuana from a home in Selah.
420careers.com, a marijuana industry job listing site, on Monday reported that the swiftly developing cannabis industry is generating an extraordinary and historic amount of jobs throughout the United States and Canada.
“The marijuana industry is producing more new jobs than many other industries in the United States,” said Colby Ayres, director of marketing at 420careers.com. "Each state that passes a medical or recreational marijuana law usually generates hundreds, if not thousands, of new jobs.
"Colorado currently has over 10,000 jobs associated with the marijuana industry and Washington state is quickly creating hordes of new jobs since legalizing marijuana in July," Ayres said.
Twenty-two states permit medical marijuana and two states (Colorado and Washington) permit recreational marijuana for adult use. Nearly a dozen other states have medical marijuana legislation initiatives and an estimated five states will vote to legalize marijuana for adult recreational use by 2016.
It has been predicted that over a dozen more states are likely to legalize recreational marijuana for adult use by 2018, which would potentially grow upwards of a $10 billion industry in the United States.
Some of more popular marijuana jobs currently offered on 420careers.com are: budtenders (dispensary patient consultants), cultivation experts, dispensary managers, writers, sales positions, delivery drivers, security staff, inventory staff, and various administrative and business development positions.