You are viewing the most recent posts on this topic.
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.
October 1, 2013 at 1:01 PM
Most medical marijuana patients should be brought into the recreational pot market the state is creating, urged all nine Seattle City Council members in a letter to Gov. Jay Inslee and key legislators.
The medical marijuana market continues to operate, at best, in a gray market, council members said, which could undermine the state’s goal of curtailing illicit dealing through a legal system allowing adults to possess small amounts of weed.
While many medical customers “live with conditions ameliorated by medical cannabis, the vast majority do not and would be better served through the access made possible by Initiative 502,” council members wrote in a letter dated Sept. 30.
That could mean combining the recreational and medical markets into a single regulated system, according to council members — though they also said the state should “make certain that the legitimate needs” of medical marijuana users are met. “Patients deserve a system that supports development of medicines appropriate to different conditions at a price point patients can afford,” council members said.
Under orders from the state Legislature, three state agencies — the Liquor Control Board and the departments of Revenue and Health — are supposed to make recommendations regarding the medical and recreational systems.
On Oct. 21, the agencies are scheduled to provide draft recommendations for comment, with a Nov. 8 deadline for comments.
The agencies will then present recommendations to state House and Senate committees in late November. By Jan. 1 they are supposed to deliver final recommendations to state lawmakers.
September 10, 2013 at 11:30 AM
WASHINGTON — King County Sheriff John Urquhart said his deputies will vigorously enforce Washington’s new marijuana law, especially against underage pot smokers.
Urquhart is testifying today before the Senate Judiciary Committee on how to reconcile the state’s legalization of pot and the still-on-the-books federal prohibition.
In an interview before the hearing, Urquhart said he sees little conflict between state and federal laws except for one: lack of legal banking services for marijuana vendors and growers. Urquhart said keeping recreational pot a cash-only business will make it vulnerable to robberies, wage fraud and other crimes that afflict the state’s legal medical marijuana industry.
Other than that, Urquhart said, his 700 deputies should be able to carry out the Justice Department’s guidelines under which the federal government gave tacit blessing to Washington and Colorado’s new recreational weed laws.
That among other things means sheriff deputies will show no tolerance for anyone under 21 caught with marijuana. They also will confiscate pot from adults who smoke it in public, though Urquhart said he would allow some discretion to skip the $103 fine for those caught far from crowds.
“We’re on the same page here” with federal regulators, Urquhart said. Legal recreational pot “is going to reduce law-enforcement workload significantly.”
Urquhart, a narcotics detective for 12 years, strongly backed last year’s Initiative 502 to legalize pot. He said he hopes the new industry remains mainly a mom-and-pop operation. Such small growers and vendors, he said, would have less clout than big marijuana operations to push to allow public advertisement for pot, which he opposes.
“The war on drugs has failed,” he said. “It’s time to try something new.”
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.
June 18, 2013 at 3:14 PM
WASHINGTON — Speaking collectively, seven congressional Democrats from Washington on Tuesday pressed the Justice Department for quick action on the state’s recreation-marijuana law.
In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, the lawmakers — including three who personally opposed last year’s pot initiative — urged assurances that pot users and sellers won’t be “penalized by the federal government for activities legal under state law.”
The letter was signed by Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray, as well as Reps. Adam Smith of Bellevue, Jim McDermott of Seattle, Suzan DelBene of Medina, Denny Heck of Olympia and Derek Kilmer of Gig Harbor.
Of the seven, Cantwell, Murray and Kilmer did not vote for November’s Initiative 502, which made possession of small amounts of pot by adults legal. The state law runs counter to the federal Controlled Substances Act, which prohibits both recreational and medical marijuana.
Pot advocates in the state have become increasingly critical of what they view as the delegation’s lack of effort to reconcile the state-federal legal conflict. Smith was the only member from Washington to sign a similar letter to Holder last year.
The eighth Democrat, Everett’s Rick Larsen, did not sign the new letter. He also opposed I-502.
Larsen is at the Paris Air Show this week at the behest of Gov. Jay Inslee. Larsen’s spokesman, Bryan Thomas, said Larsen chose not to sign because “the Department of Justice is responsible for enforcing federal laws. Congressman Larsen believes the state must work with the Department of Justice to determine a way forward.”
The delegation’s four House Republicans also opposed I-502: Dave Reichert of Auburn, Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Spokane, Jaime Herrera Beutler of Camas and Doc Hastings of Pasco.
The state Liquor Control Board, the agency charged with creating a legal marijuana system, is expected to issue draft rules for that system July 3. Retail pot stores would open next year.
March 19, 2013 at 3:42 PM
The House committee overseeing the state’s marijuana law today heard feedback about a bill that would change state regulations.
Rep. Christopher Hurst, D-Enumclaw, introduced House Bill 2000 to modify Initiative 502, a voter-passed measure allowing the sale and possession of marijuana for adults. He said he introduced the bill to preempt the “myriad of problems” the Washington State Liquor Control Board will face while implementing the initiative, especially given the lack of marijuana regulation the state has long had.
“We really have done nothing to regulate marijuana in Washington state,” Hurst said. “I could walk to downtown Olympia and find someone to sell him marijuana within five minutes.”
HB 2000 would change where businesses could legally sell marijuana. Under I-502, marijuana can’t be sold within 1000 feet of certain public facilities, including schools, parks, playgrounds and transit centers. HB 2000 would cut that distance to 500 feet, except near schools.
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.
About this blog
Trending with readers