October 18, 2013 at 1:53 PM
There was significant pot news out of California Thursday with the announcement that Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom is heading an ACLU panel that aims to put a legalization measure before Golden State voters during the next presidential election in 2016.
If such a measure passes in the country’s largest state, pot advocates have predicted it could effectively end federal prohibition of marijuana.
Alison Holcomb, the chief author of Washington state’s legal pot law, is on the panel along with at least one skeptic, Keith Humphreys, a former White House drug policy advisor. The panel includes 13 others, including medical, legal and law enforcement experts.
California voters rejected a legalization measure, Proposition 19 in 2010. But Prop. 19 lacked a plan for statewide regulation and taxation of legal pot. Only 46.5 percent of voters supported it.
September 9, 2013 at 4:34 PM
Gov. Jay Inslee and state Attorney General Bob Ferguson asked a U.S. Senate committee for a key bit of help in creating a tightly regulated legal pot market.
In written testimony submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee for a Tuesday hearing, Inslee and Ferguson stressed that without changes at the federal level, Washington state’s legal pot merchants will operate on a cash-only basis.
That will make it more difficult for the state to audit their books and track their income, the duo said, and make legal businesses a target for theft and burglary, “thereby creating additional public safety challenges.”
As it now stands, federally regulated banks are wary of providing financial services to legal pot merchants, Inslee and Ferguson said, because federal law can impose penalties on banks that accept money they know to come from drug sales – even if those sales are legal under state law.
Inslee and Ferguson suggested two fixes: the federal Department of Justice could advise banking regulators that it isn’t going to prosecute banks for handling legal pot money; or, Congress could also pass a law allowing banks to accepts deposits from a legal pot business.
The rest of their four-page testimony details the many ways in which Washington state’s legal pot rules are consistent with the DOJ’s eight priorities for legal pot in Washington and Colorado — from preventing youth access to legal pot, to preventing Washington pot from leaking into other states.
Tuesday’s hearing is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Pacific time. The committee chaired by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-VT., will begin by questioning U.S. Deputy Attorney General James Cole. It would be no surprise for the banking issue to come up in that portion of the hearing. Then, the hearing on “Conflicts in State and Federal Marijuana Laws” will address a panel of three: King County Sheriff John Urquhart; Jack Finlaw, the top lawyer for Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper; and Kevin Sabet, the director of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, an organization that’s opposed to legalization.
August 22, 2013 at 12:11 PM
Mark Kleiman, the state’s top pot consultant, has suggested a way to end the lingering tension between Washington’s new recreational pot law and the federal government, which considers all marijuana illegal.
And state Attorney General Bob Ferguson did not dismiss Kleiman’s idea. Ferguson said the AG’s office “has done their own examination” of Kleiman’s proposal and “it’s too soon to say” if it has traction with decision-makers.
Ferguson did not want to reveal any more about the state’s discussions with the federal Department of Justice. “I’m not ready to get into more detail about what communication is going on with the feds,” Ferguson said.
In an article published Wednesday in the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis, Kleiman said the DOJ now seems to have three options: cracking down on legalized pot in Washington and Colorado, acquiescing to legalization, or “muddling through” with its current policy of only saying it continues to review new laws in those two states.
Kleiman sees two better alternatives.
June 24, 2013 at 1:06 PM
Prodded by mayors including Mike McGinn of Seattle and Marilyn Strickland of Tacoma, the U.S. Conference of Mayors adopted a resolution Monday urging the federal government to respect the abilities of states and cities to implement policies such as marijuana legalization.
The resolution carries no legal weight and was one of dozens adopted by the mayors’ group Monday, including resolutions on ”furthering the urban food revolution” and “eradicating bullying” in schools.
Also sponsored by the mayors of San Diego, Oakland and Berkeley, the resolution says “states and localities should be able to set whatever marijuana policies work best to improve the public safety and health of their communities.”
It calls on the federal government to amend the Controlled Substance Act to allow states to set their own pot policies and until that time, the mayors’ group urges President Obama to stop spending money on actions that undermine the marijuana laws of states.
The Obama administration has repeatedly said it is working on policy pertaining to Colorado and Washington, the two states that have legalized adult recreational use of pot. Meanwhile, all forms of marijuana remain illegal under federal law.
March 22, 2013 at 11:17 AM
OLYMPIA — A House committee held a public hearing on a bill Friday that would tax marijuana brand names and trademarks that could be registered in the state when sale of state-taxed recreational marijuana starts at the end of this year.
The bill, which had a public hearing before the House Finance Committee Friday, would tax “all trademarks, trade names, brand names, patents and copyrights that are related to marijuana.” The tax would be set at $3.60 per $1,000 of assessed value.
Democratic Rep. Jeff Morris of Mount Vernon says the money would go toward agricultural research tied to health benefits. During Friday’s hearing he specifically cited research being done at Washington State University on creating plasma from wheat, and making gluten-free wheat.
March 15, 2013 at 4:36 PM
With U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder still deciding how exactly to respond to our new marijuana legalization law, one state lawmaker hopes a trip to Olympia is in store for the country’s top law-enforcement official.
State Rep. Chris Hurst, D-Enumclaw, sent a letter to Holder on Friday, inviting the attorney general to come to town for Hurst’s hearing next week on a bill regarding enforcement of the law.
“If Washington’s attempt at replacing the criminal market with a carefully controlled and regulated legitimate market is to be successful a close partnership to enforce state and federal drug laws against those remaining entities who operate outside the law will be necessary,” wrote Hurst, who chairs the House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee. “I would like to offer an invitation to you or your representative to attend next Tuesday’s hearing.”
Will the late invitation — sent on Friday for a Tuesday hearing across the country — be accepted?
A call to the public affairs division of the Office of the Attorney General was not immediately returned.
House Bill 2000, sponsored by Hurst, would tweak provisions related to fines for violators, the price of permits for growers and sellers, and how close a marijuana store can be to schools, among other changes.
Holder told a congressional panel last week that he expects to make an announcement “relatively soon” about new marijuana laws in Washington and Colorado.
March 13, 2013 at 7:00 AM
Copenhagen is looking at legalizing cannabis, as they call it, and Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes will be traveling to the Danish city to offer advice.
Officials in Copenhagen also are exploring the possibility of importing weed from Washington and Colorado, the two states that voted in November to allow legal recreational marijuana use.
According to the Copenhagen Post, city officials think importing Washington weed might be feasible, even though it appears illegal under international law and the U.S. federal government considers all forms of marijuana illegal. The feds already have expressed great concern about Washington’s legal pot leaking into other states; leaking into Denmark seems likely to bring them down on locals like a squatting hippopotamus.
“It’s not at all what we’re interested in doing. We’ve tried to do everything we can to devise a system that keeps our marijuana within our borders,” said David Postman, spokesman for Gov. Jay Inslee. Postman invited the Danes to import other Washington products, from apples to airplanes.
The Copenhagen City Council is holding a conference on cannabis legalization Friday. They’ve invited Holmes, a sponsor of Initiative 502, which enacted our legal pot law. A deputy mayor in Copenhagen said it “would be strange not to use the occasion to address practicalities with Mr. Holmes.”
Through his spokeswoman, Holmes said the state’s law would not allow exporting pot to Denmark. Copenhagen is paying for Holmes’ trip, according to spokeswoman Kimberly Mills, and no city funds will be spent on his visit.
February 18, 2013 at 10:23 AM
Legislative items to watch this week: unmanned drones, marijuana convictions and unemployed veterans
This week the state Legislature will once again consider a diverse assortment of topics. Various committees will hold hearings on bills covering unmanned drones, marijuana convictions and unemployed veterans.
Two weeks after Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn grounded the Seattle Police Department’s unmanned drown program, the House and Senate will hold hearings on legislation to outline regulations on the aircraft. Senate Bill 5782 will be heard by the Law & Justice Committee on Wednesday. House Bill 1771 will be heard by the Public Safety Committee on Thursday.
The House Public Safety Committee will further explore the implications of Initiative 502, which legalized marijuana use, in a Wednesday meeting. Representatives will consider House Bill 1661 removing misdemeanor marijuana convictions from people’s criminal records. The bill is sponsored by Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, D-Burien.
Legislators in the House will hear a bill aimed at bolstering the state’s economy and putting veterans to work with bills that provide tax cuts for businesses hiring unemployed workers. House Bill 1615, proposed by Port Orchard Republican Jan Angel, will go before the Finance Committee on Friday.
January 30, 2013 at 6:00 AM
A new take on Rodney Tom conversion? The new leader in the state Senate, he of the Majority Coalition Caucus, is an enigma for some Democrats who wonder how he can call himself a Democrat when he joined with Republicans to form the Republican-leaning group. Republican John Carlson has an interesting piece on Tom in Crosscut.
What do you think of the bill to change the state code to use gender-neutral language? Bye bye, firemen, fishermen and other such terms. If I am not mistaken, the University of Washington Daily has done something similar.
High marks for Washington’s charter school law. The charter bill is brand new and implementation will take time. But still the bill wins high marks for the way it is drafted. No. 3 in the country, according to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.
Oregon going to pot, well, maybe sometime. The Oregonian says Oregon could be one of the next couple of states to legalize marijuana , perhaps in 2014 or 2016. Oregon had a pot measure on the ballot this past year, but the measure was very broad and did not pass voter muster.
Good days and bad days, bad mornings followed by better afternoons: Tuesday morning, state Rep. Gary Alexander was part of an AP inquiry into lawmakers’ expense reports, dry cleaning expenses, to be specific. The story included Alexander’s cleaning bill. Uh oh.
Later in the afternoon, Alexander was announced as as the new Thurston County auditor, filling a spot vacated by Secretary of State Kim Wyman. Question for Alexander: Does he intend to become Secretary of State? Just asking. Both Wyman and former Secretary of State Sam Reed were Thurston County auditor before becoming Secretary of State.
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January 15, 2013 at 2:55 PM
Washingtonians wanting to weigh-in on the state’s emerging rules on legal pot will have a chance at six upcoming forums.
As it prepares to oversee a new legal marijuana industry, the Washington Liquor Control Board announced Tuesday the sites for forums across the state. One in Seattle occurs Jan. 24, starting at 6 p.m. in City Hall’s Bertha Knight Landes Room. After an open house with board members and staff, and a brief overview of the board’s role in voter-approved Initiative 502, public testimony will be taken 7:15 p.m. to 10 p.m.
The other forums, which follow the same time schedule, will be held:
Jan. 22, WSLCB headquarters, room 201, 3000 Pacific Ave. SE, Olympa WA 98501;
Feb. 7, Clark College, Vancouver, Foster Auditorium, 1933 Fort Vancouver Way, Vancouver, WA 98663;
Feb. 12, Spokane City Hall, Council Chambers, 808 W. Spokane Falls Blvd., Spokane, WA 99201;
Feb. 19, Skagit Valley College, Mt. Vernon, theater, 2405 E. College Way, Mount Vernon, WA 98273;
Feb. 21, Yakima City Hall, Council Chambers, 129 N. Second St., Yakima, WA 98901.
“This is an opportunity for the public to meet the Board and staff involved in implementation, learn about our role in implementation, and to provide testimony,” said board Chair Sharon Foster in a statement.
Information about implementing I-502, including a fact sheet and frequently asked questions — are available at www.liq.wa.gov.
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