By Steve Elliott
Officers with the Clark-Vancouver Regional Drug Task Force on Thursday seized and carried away dried marijuana, cannabis plants, money, and growing equipment from Grow Systems Northwest, a business on St. Johns Boulevard in Vancouver, Washington.
Law enforcement said the store isn't licensed as a recreational cannabis retailer and doesn't operate within the state's medical marijuana law, reports Emily Gillespie at The Columbian. Police claim Grow Systems Northwest has been selling $200,000 worth of pot every month.
The store caught the attention of law enforcement back in April when a Vancouver police officer responded to the business on a report of a stolen vehicle. The owner, Adam Alexander, gave the officer a tour, according to Vancouver police Sgt. Pat Moore, the lead drug detective in the case.
Alexander helpfully told the officer that he was selling marijuana from his house, but then his business became too big so he moved it to the storefront on St. Johns Boulevard, Moore said. The officer told the Clark-Vancouver Drug Task Force, and Moore began investigating.
Grow Systems Northwest's website says it offers medical marijuana delivery. "We have been serving the Clark County area for many years now and would love to have you as one of our regulars!" the website reads.
By Steve Elliott
Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg and Sheriff John Urquhart must have envisioned quite a different news conference than the one which actually happened Wednesday morning, when they announced the closure of medical marijuana dispensaries operating in King County.
The medicinal cannabis dispensaries, which in some cases after years of smooth operation have now been suddenly defined as "unlicensed" in a money grab by I-502 recreational marijuana store operator, represent the only safe and affordable access to cannabinoid medicines for many limited mobility and low income patients in King County.
The dispensaries have to shut down in 30 days, if they don't have a license -- oh, and did we mention that there aren't any licenses available?
Satterberg and Urquhart -- who maybe expected to be hailed as heroes at their news conference -- were joined by Russ Hauge of the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB), at the Sheriff's Office White Center Storefront. But that's not what happened, reports Gwen Davis at the West Seattle Herald.
They were greeted by a vocally hostile crowd of about 30, with hecklers screaming at the prosecuting attorney and the sheriff as they were trying to give their prepared speeches, which were rendered mostly inaudible.
"You are horrible people!" one woman yelled at Satterberg.
The latest episode in a series of ongoing podcast interviews offered by Ganjapreneur, a cannabis business website and online resource, explores the cannabis testing world with Dr. Michelle Sexton, founder of Phytalab.
Dr. Sexton is a naturopathic doctor, an editor and advisor on the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia Cannabis Monograph, and was a consultant in the development of Washington's recreational cannabis market.
With legalization continuing to spread, regulators are beginning to take a serious look at cannabis science and the ways it can benefit the distribution of safe, quality products. One of the more common regulatory demands — that all products be tested for potency, contaminants and other criteria by a state-certified laboratory — is a uniquely difficult scientific process in today's world. In fact, many dispensary owners and other cannabis retailers have complained that when submitting samples from the same plant to different testing facilities, they frequently receive varying results.
During the interview, Dr. Sexton establishes that "there's a difference between certification and proficiency. That's the bottom line." Essentially, the people setting the regulations for cannabis testing aren't actually scientists, and there is a disconnect between the way things have wound up and the way things should have been done.
New Report Finds Major Fiscal Benefits, Decrease in Violent Crime, No Increase in Youth Marijuana Use or Traffic Fatalities – And Massive Drop in Marijuana Arrests
Popular Support for Marijuana Legalization Remains Strong in Washington; Only Dark Cloud Remains Uncertain Fate of Medical Marijuana
By Steve Elliott
As several states consider marijuana legalization initiatives, all eyes are on the initial outcomes of Washington’s marijuana law. In 2012, Washington and Colorado became the first two states to pass laws taxing and regulating marijuana.
Wednesday will mark the one-year anniversary of retail marijuana sales in Washington. Adult possession of marijuana became legal on December 6, 2012, 30 days after the passage of I-502, the voter-approved initiative legalizing marijuana for adults 21 and older. A year-and-a-half later, the first retail marijuana store opened its doors, on July 8, 2014.
A new report by the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) highlights data on public safety, youth marijuana use, and the economy before and after passage of I-502. Since adult possession of marijuana became legal 18 months ago, the state has benefitted from a dramatic decrease in marijuana arrests and convictions, as well as increased tax revenues.
By Steve Elliott
A bill simplifying the tax scheme for marijuana was signed into law by Washington Governor Jay Inslee on Tuesday. HB 2136, which the Legislature approved last week, also significantly loosens the rules on buffer zones that have kept recreational I-502 marijuana shops away from many dense commercial areas.
As originally approved by voters, I-502 taxed recreational marijuana at three tiers: producers (growers), processors (curing), and retail. Under the new scheme, the three-level tax system has been collapsed into one 37 percent point-of sale tax, reports Bryan Cohen at Capitol Hill Seattle. According to Ian Eisenberg, proprietor of Capitol Hill recreational marijuana shop Uncle Ike's, his customers won't see much of a change in pricing due at 37 percent tax.
I-502 originally stated recreational marijuana stores can't be located within 1,000 feet of parks, schools, and other public gathering places. Localities could soon have the power to bring that buffer down to 100 feet under HB 2136
The 1,000-foot buffer greatly restricted permitted locations for marijuana retail; it was written as an attempt to placate federal officials, who have released guidelines under which the Obama Administration won't go after state-legal pot shops, including just such a buffer zone. There are specific penalties for selling marijuana within 1,000 feet of schools under federal sentencing guidelines.
Ganjapreneur, an online cannabis business resource, interviews Dr. Dominic Corva in the latest episode of its series of podcast interviews featuring successful cannabis entrepreneurs and industry experts.
Dr. Corva is a political geographer and public policy scholar who has written extensively on both international drug policy in the Western Hemisphere as well as the political economy of cannabis agriculture in southern Humboldt County. In the past he has worked as a professor at Sarah Lawrence College and Humboldt State University, though these days he is executive director at the Cannabis and Social Policy Center (CASP).
The interview is hosted by Shango Los of the Vashon Island Marijuana Entrepreneurs Alliance. Over the course of the interview, the two discuss the past and future of international drug policy, the flawed implementation of Washington's I-502 market, the impact of data-tracking on legal marijuana, and the future of Humboldt County cannabis growers.
“The biggest misconception is that legalization means that everyone is more free to engage in cannabis commerce, when in fact, legalization clearly means that new lines are being drawn,” Dr. Corva explained.
Though his work has been dedicated to aiding and understanding business interests in the cannabis industry, Dr. Corva is openly thankful for the activism efforts that brought us here: "As long as we’re not moving backwards on the criminal justice side of it, then we’re still, I think, moving a little bit in the right direction."
By Steve Elliott
Most labels on edible marijuana products are inaccurate when it comes to levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the principal psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, researchers reported on Tuesday.
An analysis of 75 products sold to patients in Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles found that just 17 percent of the labels accurately described THC levels, reports Catherine Saint Louis at The New York Times. Sixty percent of the products had less THC than claimed on the packaging, and 23 percent of them had more THC than advertised.
"We need a more accurate picture of what's being offered to patients," said Dr. Donald Abrams, chief of hematology and oncology at San Francisco General Hospital. Dr. Abrams wasn't involved in the study, which was published in JAMA.
Products with too little THC may fail to deliver symptom relief, and those with too much may make users feel uncomfortable or anxious.
Cannabis candy, drinks and baked goods from 47 brands were tested in the new study by the Werc Shop, a laboratory with branches in Washington state and California. The study was paid for by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine except for the cost of the testing, which was covered by the Werc Shop; the company's CEO, Jeffrey Raber, is listed as a study author.
When Jeremy Bamford started Colorado Pot Guide (coloradopotguide.com) in 2013, the idea was straightforward: Give locals and visitors everything they need to find and enjoy cannabis, while also helping them stay on the good side of the law.
The informative, practical and easy-to-use approach triumphed, with traffic blossoming to 250,000 visitors a month by early 2015. The company has been tapped by everyone from overseas reporters seeking guidance about Colorado’s great experiment to tourists across the country hunting for dispensaries and cannabis-friendly lodging options for their next vacation.
Now, Colorado Pot Guide goes national, with PotGuide.com. The rollout begins with Washington state, which legalized medical and recreational marijuana, and Nevada, a medical-marijuana state with an upcoming ballot issue that seeks to make recreational marijuana legal in early 2016
“Our guide clearly resonated with people in Colorado, so we decided to offer locals and visitors in other states the same breadth of high-quality, engaging content, as well as all-inclusive listings of cannabis-related businesses and services,” said Bamford, who lives in Denver. “My goal from the beginning was to include all businesses in the guide for free — not just those that advertised or paid for an enhanced listing.
"I have always geared the website towards the reader, both in educating and connecting them to relevant service providers," Bamford said. "I want PotGuide.com to be their trusted, resource in the world of marijuana, day after day.”
"From buds to dabs in 30 seconds"... is it too good to be true? In their most recent podcast episode, Ganjapreneur.com, a website dedicated to cannabis industry news and culture, investigates the origins and rapid growth of a new hashish manufacturing process known as "Rosin Tech."
The interview, which is hosted by Shango Los of the Vashon Island Marijuana Entrepreneurs Alliance (VIMEA), features Jeff Church, a hashish and medical cannabis expert and the founder of ThincPure, a Washington State medical cannabis extracts manufacturer.
In the interview, Church (also known as "Reverend Cannabis") describes how Rosin Tech came onto the scene in the medical cannabis world and how it has spread rapidly, largely due to videos and photos on Instagram, originating with a user named "Soilgrown." He also describes how it has quickly disrupted the cannabis extracts market, due to the fact that it is so inexpensive and accessible for medical cannabis patients.
Describing how the process works, he said "Basically what it is, is you take a piece of silicon-coated parchment paper, baking paper, and fold it in half and you put a piece of flower in there. Soilgrown’s original method was to take a flat iron which is just your basic hair straightener, $20 or less [...] but you basically just, you’ve got your bud in between a parchment and you squeeze it with this hot iron."
The result, Church said, can be on par with hash produced by highly specialized and expensive hydrocarbon extraction technology.
After a successful first season, "The Marijuana Show" — which calls itself "the first-ever reality show about Cannabis" — is announcing Season Two auditions during Hemp History Week, with live auditions on June 18-19 and June 21.
Coined the “Shark Tank for Ganjapreneurs,” the reality-competition show offered over $5 million to contestants in Season One. The show profiles ganjapreneur hopefuls, giving each contestant the opportunity to pitch an idea to a panel of accredited investors, and then participate in a Boot Camp aka Bud Camp to develop a variety of cannabis technologies and products through mentorship, and ultimately access to millions of dollars in investment capital.
The Marijuana Show can be viewed online and will air fall 2015 on Dish, Comcast, Xbox, Samsung, Roku and several other streaming sites reaching over 50 million households.
Ganjapreneur hopefuls can audition online. Two-minute video pitches will be accepted from all over the country. Live auditions will take place in Seattle on June 18 and 19 by RSVP only and at Hempapalooza on June 21 in Brinnon, Washington.
Entrepreneurs who have unique products, an established business, permits, licenses, and sales are encouraged to audition to see if they can be the next Marijuana Millionaire. Wannabe Marijuana Millionaires should be able to present business plans and proof of licenses and permits, and they must be 21+ with valid ID.
Members of the public now have unprecedented access to data about Washington state's legal cannabis industry through the Cannabis Transparency Project (CTP).
The CTP is an open source web application for processing and visually representing information released by the state as part of the Washington State Marijuana Traceability System database via a public records request, the Cannabis and Social Policy Center, in conjunction with the Cannabis Commodities Exchange, announced on Friday.
"The idea is to encourage transparency and legitimate trade practices in the industry by providing a user-friendly interface so that anyone can navigate through and discuss this large amount of data," said project developer Will Farley, CTO of CCX.
Farley said he hopes other developers will contribute to the project, so that this open resource can become "a powerful tool to inform the public about cannabis."
"This amount and type of data regarding cannabis has never been available for comprehensive analysis before," said CASP Executive Director Dr. Dominic Corva. "For the first time, for example, we can examine evidence for potency clustering and differentiation across dozens of cultivars. There are many, many other questions that can be answered using this information."
After using the system for a few days, CASP Affiliate Researcher Dr. Jim MacRae emphatically said, "In one week with this tool, I've been able to generate more meaningful insight into the state of cannabis potency testing in Washington than I was able to in three weeks using the tools I traditionally use.
By Steve Elliott
Apparently not content to wait for the scheduled extinction date of medical marijuana dispensaries in Washington -- set for July 1, 2016 -- Seattle Mayor Ed Murray on Tuesday proposed legislation that could shut down dozens of dispensaries in the city.
Mayor Murray's plan would create a new business license specifically for medical marijuana dispensaries and create enforcement priorities for unlicensed shops, reports Evan Bush at The Seattle Times.
The plan follows the Washington Legislature's attempts to "fold" medical marijuana into the state's recreational cannabis system established under I-502 and SB 5052. The latter law, approved last month, calls for the Washington State Liquor Control Board (which will be renamed the Liquor and Cannabis Board) to "assess the merit" of medical marijuana dispensaries are license those which qualify by July 2016.
The LCB still hasn't come up with the rules for grading medical marijuana dispensaries, and many observers believe the ultimate goal isn't to license the businesses anyway, but rather to shut almost all of them down. It's not yet clear how many additional licenses Seattle might get, or which businesses could get those licenses.
By Steve Elliott
During the campaign leading up to the passage of marijuana legalization Initiative 502 in Washington state in 2012, many activists -- this writer included -- expressed grave concerns about the effect of 502's unscientific, arbitrary per-se cutoff point of 5 nanograms per milliliter as a "bright line" beyond which motorists are considered too high to drive. On Tuesday, a Vancouver, Washington marijuana user got a six-month jail sentence, followed by five years of probation, in a case that illustrates exactly why we were worried.
You see, the new definition of stoned driving established by I-502 has nothing to do with impairment, unlike the old law. Before, law enforcement had to prove actual impairment if they wanted to convict motorists of driving under the influence of marijuana, but now, all they need is a test showing marijuana metabolites above 5 ng/ml in the driver's blood. Impairment doesn't even matter anymore in a "driving under the influence" case; we've passed through the looking glass.
Four Western Washington recreational retail marijuana businesses this month failed compliance checks conducted by the Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB).
Officers, working with underage investigative aides, checked 22 businesses for sales of marijuana to minors. The first checks represent an 82 percent no-sales-to-minors compliance rate.
The four businesses will be cited for selling marijuana to minors. The individuals who sold the marijuana will be referred to their respective prosecuting attorney’s office for potential criminal prosecution.
The WSLCB and local authorities regularly conduct compliance checks of area businesses licensed to sell alcohol. The checks, conducted May 15-18 in Skagit, Snohomish, Kitsap, Pierce and Cowlitz Counties, were the first marijuana compliance checks.
The checks followed a recent communication to all licensees that enforcement officers were beginning compliance checks and recommended best practices for avoiding an illegal sale.
Compliance checks are proven tools to reduce the sale of age-restricted products to minors, according to the WSLCB. Investigative aides assist officers with compliance checks. These individuals are from 18 to 20 years old. They must either present their true identification or none at all if asked by a clerk.
Liquor enforcement officers are empowered to issue Administrative Violation Notices to businesses that fail compliance checks. Fines or temporary license suspensions can be issued depending on the severity of the infraction or the frequency with which a business has been cited.
Medical marijuana dispensaries are slated for extinction in Washington state, thanks to the passage of SB 5052 by the Legislature. But the R76 NO campaign would head off 5052 at the pass, essentially nullifying the law through the voter referendum process.
The R76 NO campaign, representing as it does a way out of the death sentence imposed upon the medical marijuana community in Washington as we've known it for the past 17 years, is gaining a lot of support statewide, but one recurring question has been where supporters can get signature sheets so that they can help the referendum qualify for the November ballot. Due to the untiring efforts of Washington activist Don Skakie, medical marijuana supporters can now go to any full service FedEx location in the state and get printed, double-sided, 11x17 Referendum 76 signature sheets for just 12 cents each.
According to Skakie, all you have to do is ask for File Retrieval Code 2EE4248 under Account Discount #0589281101 to print the signature sheets. "We have been given permission to use this account from the Georgetown Cultural Arts Center," Skakie said. "YOU MUST PAY FOR THESE COPIES, but the activity will benefit the Center by helping them meet their annual minimum purchases to keep their account open at these prices. Go and do great things!"