Archive for Marijuana

‘Legislative Year in Review’ recaps the extended 2015 session

By | July 15, 2015 | 0 Comments

The state Legislature adjourned on July 10 after a record-setting 176 days. In this hour-long edition of “Legislative Year in Review,” we recap the highlights of the significant bills that passed — and failed to pass — during the regular and overtime sessions.

Lawmakers narrowly avoided a state government shutdown by passing a two-year operating budget that was signed into law just before midnight on June 30 by Gov. Jay Inslee. But the session didn’t end there. Senate leaders were drawn into an additional week of negotiations after a debate in the chamber over Initiative 1351, a class size reduction initiative passed by voters that came with a $2 billion price tag.

Senate Democrats and Republicans eventually reached a deal to delay implementation of the class size initiative for four years, while also suspending a new high school biology graduation requirement for two years. That agreement allows nearly 2,000 high school seniors who failed the exam this year to earn a diploma.

As part of the overall budget, college students will get a tuition cut and additional money will be funneled into early education and preschool with the Early Start Act.

Lawmakers also passed a $16 billion transportation package funded by a 11.9-cent gas tax increase that pays for projects across the state — marking the first time in a decade the state has made a significant investment in transportation infrastructure.

Also on the show: We recap debate over several bills that passed this year, including an oil train safety measure, an involuntary commitment bill known as Joel’s law, medical marijuana reform, the establishment of a new Washington State University medical school and a gun notification bill known as the Sheena Henderson Act.

Plus, details about the bills that generated heated debate but failed to pass — including the creation of a new type of payday loan, a proposed $12-an-hour statewide minimum wage, restrictions on initiative signature-gathering and eliminating personal exemptions for vaccines.

“Legislative Year in Review” airs at 6 and 11 p.m. every night on TVW through July 19. Or watch the show online below:

Medical marijuana bill passes both chambers, heads to governor for signature

By | April 15, 2015 | 0 Comments

New regulations for the state’s medical marijuana system have passed both chambers, after the Senate passed Senate Bill 5052 on a 41-8 vote Tuesday afternoon.

Medical MarijuanaThe Senate concurred with amendments passed by the House last Friday, which means the bill heads to Gov. Jay Inslee‘s desk for a signature before becoming law.

“This bill has been well worked and it’s been quite a journey,” said Sen. Ann Rivers, R-La Center, who sponsored the bill.

The amended bill will:

  • Require licensed marijuana retailers to obtain a medical marijuana endorsement to sell medical-grade marijuana to qualifying patients and designated providers.
  • Eliminates collective gardens and replaces them with cooperatives. Cooperatives may only have four qualifying patients or designated providers and must be registered with the Liquor and Cannabis Board.
  • Establishes a voluntary database of qualifying patients and providers. The bill also requires patients to obtain a recognition card for increased amounts of marijuana products and to be protected from arrest.
  • Establishes different amounts of marijuana that qualifying patients may possess depending on whether or not they have a recognition card or authorization from a health care professional for an additional amount.

SB 5052 also adds post-traumatic stress disorder and brain injuries to the list of terminal or debilitating medical conditions that qualify for medical marijuana and it changes the Liquor Control Board’s name to the Liquor and Cannabis Board.

Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, acknowledged Rivers’ work and said the medical marijuana rules needed to be updated after voters passed Initiative 502, which decriminalized recreational marijuana.

“We do need to have an alignment of our recreational system with our medical system,” Kohl-Welles said.

However, she was concerned that cities and counties are not getting enough from the marijuana taxes to cover enforcement, and that current medical marijuana dispensaries throughout the state will be able to enter the licensing system.

“Unless my vote is needed — I don’t think it will be — I’m going to be voting no, because I need to make that point for the patients,” she said.

Sen. Brian Dansel, R-Republic, said he was concerned that the bill will leave out many Washingtonians who are already using medical marijuana, under the previous, voter-approved system. He also voted no.

“All of a sudden they’re going to be criminals,” Dansel said. “I think we’re not getting this right. We’re going after the wrong thing.”

Sen. Jeannie Darnielle, D-Tacoma, voted for the bill, but expressed similar concerns that the list of conditions that qualify for medical marijuana leaves out many who already have a prescription.

“I felt we had an opportunity to include them in this bill,” she said.

She told the story of one of her constituents, who was prescribed medical cannabis after being the victim of a crime.

“She might not be included because of her conditions in this rather short sighted definition of who qualifies,” she said.

Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Kent, congratulated Rivers on her work on the bill, but said that she expected that lawmakers are not done with the issue.

“On the whole, I think we’ve made great progress,” she said.

The bill report is posted on the legislature’s website.

Pot vending machines, drive-thrus would be no-go under bill passed by Senate

By | March 3, 2015 | 0 Comments

The first marijuana vending machine in Washington opened earlier this year at a medical dispensary in Seattle. (Photo by American Green via Twitter.)

The Senate unanimously voted to stamp out marijuana vending machines and drive-throughs in Washington Monday afternoon — currently allowed under a sales loophole under Initiative 502.

SB 5903, sponsored by Sen. Barbara Bailey, R-Oak Harbor, passed off the Senate floor Monday and heads to the House for hearings.

The bill would make it a misdemeanor to sell marijuana from a vending machine or through a  drive-through window, and would bar the Liquor Control Board from issuing or renewing a license to a retailer using those methods. The current marijuana laws don’t disallow those methods of sale.

At least one marijuana vending machine exists in Washington — a self-service, ID verifying machine issuing medical cannabis products at Seattle Caregivers, a dispensary in South Seattle. According to vending machine company American Green, several marijuana stores in Colorado also have vending machines.

“Part of making the recreational-marijuana market work is keeping tight regulations on the sale and distribution and ensuring responsible use,” Bailey said in a prepared statement. “We don’t sell alcohol from drive-throughs and we should treat marijuana the same way.”

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Veterans say PTSD should qualify for medical marijuana use

By | February 17, 2015 | 0 Comments

Veterans asked lawmakers on Tuesday to back a bill that would add post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to the conditions that qualify for the use of medical marijuana. It would be the first mental health condition to qualify.

Cory Kemp, who was blinded, suffered a traumatic brain injury and diagnosed with PTSD after a bomb explosion in Afghanistan, said medical marijuana helped when traditional medicine did not.

Marijuana on the shelf at a medical marijana dispensary. Photo by Ashley Stewart for TVW.

“After trying four pharmaceuticals, and having some pretty negative side effects about 15 months ago I was able to wean myself off that last pharmaceutical. I’ve been using cannabis exclusively, not only have I had greater relief from a lot of the effects of my brain injury and PTSD, I’ve been able to have that relief without the debilitating side effects that I had with those pharmaceuticals that pretty much kept me confined to a chair for the majority of my day,” he said.

Kemp was one of several veterans and others who testified in favor of the bill.

Currently, medical marijuana is available to patients diagnosed with terminal or debilitating medical conditions, including cancer, AIDS, epilepsy and chronic pain. Senate Bill 5379, sponsored by Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, would add Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a qualifying condition. While veterans appeared before the Senate Health Care committee on Tuesday, anyone diagnosed with the condition could qualify.

However, Seth Dawson of the Washington State Psychiatric Association spoke against the bill, saying the research shows that marijuana is not an effective mental health treatment. He was the sole opponent who testified against it.

“We wish we could say that the research bears out the claim that the use of marijuana would be beneficial in this context, but that’s not what the research says,” Dawson said. He said the use of marijuana correlates with worse outcomes and stopping the usage correlated with improved outcomes.

If passed, the bill would be in effect under either bill being considered in the Senate that would regulate the use of medical marijuana. A bill sponsored by Sen. Ann Rivers, R-La Center, passed off the floor last week. Another bill by Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, passed out of the Commerce and Labor Committee and was referred to Ways and Means on Tuesday.

*This post has been updated to correct a misspelled name.

Youth drug prevention programs untested after legal marijuana

By | January 26, 2015 | 0 Comments

Legalized marijuana is a new world for youth drug prevention programs, and the data does not yet exist to determine which programs are the most effective, prevention specialists told lawmakers Monday morning.

“There just hasn’t been enough done specifically looking at youth marijuana use… especially in the context of legalized marijuana,” Brittany Rhoades Cooper, an assistant professor in Washington State University’s Department of Human Development, told the Senate Human Services, Mental Health and Housing committee, which heard Senate Bill 5245.

Initiative 502 provides 15 percent of the state’s marijuana excise tax to the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS). The agency is required to use 85 percent of that funding for prevention programs that are “evidence-based” and “cost-beneficial.” DSHS is expected to receive $29 million for the 2015-17 biennium, and $52 million for the 2017-19 biennium from marijuana excise taxes.

However, prevention specialists told the committee that the data still need to be gathered on the effectiveness of programs and why they work — especially now with recreational marijuana legal in Washington.

“No programs have ever been tested in the context of legalized marijuana,” said Kevin Haggerty, a professor at the University of Washington School of Social Work.

Senate Bill 5245 would allow DSHS to use the money it gets from Initiative 502 to evaluate drug prevention programs.

“Communities should have the best evidence to do the work,” Haggerty said. “We owe it to our communities to provide a strong menu of options…. and we need to provide programs in the context of legalized marijuana.”

The bill also would delay the requirement that the funded programs have a good cost-benefit analysis until 2020, but it still allows local communities to use money for prevention programs in the meantime.

Cooper added that it was important continue to fund prevention programs while the studies are being done.

If the funding isn’t maintained, “all of the good intended by those dollars will likely fall short, and our communities can’t wait until the research catches up,” she said.

Medical marijuana regulations proposed in two separate bills

By | January 22, 2015 | 0 Comments

Lawmakers have been saying for the past few years that medical marijuana needs clear regulations as the state allows retail marijuana shops, which were made legal by the passage of Initiative 502.

The Senate in 2014 passed a medical marijuana bill written by Sen. Ann Rivers, R-La Center, with a number of amendments by Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, but the House did not vote on it.

This session, Rivers and Kohl-Welles once again proposed different bills that would create a medical marijuana system alongside the recreational market.

Rivers introduced Senate Bill 5052 before session. Among the proposed rules are:

  • Establishes a registry for patients and for medical marijuana stores.
  • Barring smoking products and smokable marijuana to be sold as medical products.
  • Exempting medical marijuana products from use tax and sales tax.
  • Allowing medical marijuana patients to have up to six plants — a reduction from the 15 allowed now — and allowing patients to grow their own marijuana.
  • Replacing collective gardens with registered growing cooperatives, where only members could participate with no monetary payment.

Rivers’ original language called for a medical marijuana retail license, but Rivers said Thursday she would change her bill to establish three types of stores: those that sell both medical and recreational; and those that just sell one or the other.

Kohl-Welles earlier this week held a press conference announcing Senate Bill 5519. SB 5519 would phase out the collective gardens and dispensaries and do away with the medical authorization system. The medical products would be available in marijuana I-502 retail stores.

  • Making low-THC, high CBD products tax-free
  • Making available an additional endorsement to show that a store has expertise in medical marijuana.
  • Allowing medical marijuana patients to have up to six plants.
  • Creating a waiver for marijuana patients who need more than six plants. The waiver also would allow for people to purchase of retail marijuana without sales tax.
  • Permitting anyone 21 and older to grow up to six plants or fewer for their own personal use. People may give to one ounce of usable marijuana that they’ve grown to another person without compensation.
  • Would not create a registry for patients.

Kohl-Welles emphasized that her bill shares similarities with Rivers’ bill.

“My colleague on the other side of the aisle, Sen. Ann Rivers, is also working hard on this issue and her legislation has many commonalities with mine,” Kohl-Welles said in a statement. “I anticipate that we will find a way to pass legislation that combines the best of both of our proposals.”

Rivers’ bill was heard Thursday, which also was Medical Cannabis Lobby Day at the Capitol.

Retailers, collective garden organizers, activists and patients testified to Rivers’ bill on Thursday both for and against the bill.

Ryan Day of Federal Way was one of the speakers on Sen. Ann Rivers' medical marijuana bill.

Ryan Day, who grows medical marijuana that stops the seizures of his six-year-old son, Haiden, said that getting rid of the collective garden system would make it difficult to provide his son’s treatment when their plants at home haven’t fully grown.

The type of cannabis that Day grows does not cause a high, which makes it hard to obtain on the recreational market, he said. Day said that he wants to work with lawmakers to create a system that gives options other than recreational marijuana stores for patients to get medicinal cannabis.

“I went to a recreational store. The interior reminded me of the basement in ‘That ’70s Show,’ ” Day said after the meeting.

TVW took video of the press conferences and the public hearing:

Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles press conference

Senate Health Care Public Hearing

Sen. Ann Rivers press conference

Rep. Klippert: Repeal legal marijuana, recognize fetus in murder cases

By | January 21, 2015 | 0 Comments

Two controversial measures could appear before lawmakers this session – a bill to repeal recreational marijuana and another that would recognize a fetus as a victim if a crime is committed against a pregnant mother.

Rep. Brad Klippert

Rep. Brad Klippert plans to introduce legislation to repeal Initiative 502, the voter-approved measure legalizing marijuana, he told TVW. “Possession and consumption of marijuana by our children is skyrocketing. The black market for marijuana is skyrocketing,” he said Wednesday. “It’s not being a positive thing for our state – it’s actually having some negative effects.

The Kennewick Republican will need a majority of lawmakers to agree in order to repeal the measure. Two-thirds of lawmakers must vote repeal, suspend or amend an initiative within two years of passage. Since I-502 was approved in 2012, it doesn’t have to meet that standard and could be repealed by a simple majority, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.

Other lawmakers have introduced reforms to the state’s legal marijuana system. The so-called “Comprehensive Marijuana Reform Act,” introduced Wednesday, would merge I-502 with the state’s medical marijuana system, which has been largely unregulated since the initiative was implemented.

Another bill Klippert plans to introduce would would make it a crime to kill a fetus in some circumstances. If a suspect kills an unborn child during a crime against the pregnant mother, he or she could be charged with first-degree murder.

Klippert, a Benton County Sheriff’s officer, says the bill comes after he responded to a triple murder with a pregnant victim. “Now, the way the law is written, we cannot charge that suspect with aggravated murder of that child,” he said.

Rep. Roger Goodman, the Kirkland Democrat who chairs the House Public Safety Committee, said the bill will stir debate. “The question of viability or personhood of a child not yet born is probably the most controversial issue that we deal with in the legislature,” Goodman said. “That issue will certainly come up when we hear this proposal.”

Klippert and Goodman will appear on TVW’s The Impact with Anita Kissee at 7 and 10 p.m. Wednesday.

Bankers say they need more guidance to provide services to marijuana businesses

By | October 6, 2014 | 0 Comments

Bankers told legislators this week they need more clarity when it comes to laws that allow them to provide checking accounts, loans and other financial services to marijuana businesses.

Salal Credit Union of Seattle currently counts five marijuana producers and four retailers among its customers, Russ Rosendal told a joint legislative committee on Monday.

The bank follows guidelines from the so-called “Cole memo” released by the U.S. Department of Justice last year. The memo said the federal government will only enforce eight areas of the federal Controlled Substance Act in Washington and Colorado.

However, the memo contains “exceptions and loopholes,” Rosendal said, and it doesn’t prohibit the federal government from launching investigations or prosecutions. “So while it was a step forward, there are still a lot of issues there,” he said.

Numerica Credit Union also provides services to marijuana businesses. Bank representative Lynn Ciani said one reason she thinks more banks aren’t providing financial services to the marijuana industry is because of the criminal penalties that the DOJ can impose for violating federal anti-laundering laws.

“Although we are used to the large civil penalties and that risk, the whole going to jail thing and wearing orange is probably causing people to take a second thought,” Ciani told the committee.

Both banks also follow guidance released in February by the U.S. Treasury Department and the U.S. Justice Department.

However, a number of issues remain to be sorted out.

Rosendal said it is unclear what tax deductions a marijuana business is allowed to take. He said banks are also unsure about forfeiture and seizure laws. “As long as financial institutions are unclear about what collateral they have…it is going to be hard to lend any money to 502 businesses,” he said.

Credit cards are also a problem, Rosendal said, because companies like Visa or Mastercard don’t allow their products to be used for marijuana. “Until these I-502 businesses can do electronic transactions, they’re going to be forced to be in a cash business,” he said.

Watch the full meeting at this TVW link.

 

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First 24 marijuana licenses issued by state officials

By | July 7, 2014 | 0 Comments

The Washington State Liquor Control Board on Monday issued the state’s first 24 marijuana retail licenses to stores in cities that include Seattle, Spokane, Tacoma, Bellingham and Lacey.

The licenses pave the way for stores to begin selling pot as soon as 8 a.m. Tuesday morning. The full list of 24 stores is available online here, although not all stores are expected to have supply ready to go on the first day.

Cannabis City in Seattle told the Associated Press it will open its doors at noon Tuesday, while other stores say they will have “soft openings” in the coming days as they stock their shelves.

The board expects to eventually license 334 stores across Washington state.

Voters in Washington legalized marijuana during the November 2012 election. The state Liquor Control Board has spent 18 months establishing a system to produce, process and sell recreational marijuana.

A number of stores in small cities in Washington also received retail licenses Monday, including Ephrata, Kelso, Prosser, Camano Island and Bingen.

Categories: Marijuana

On ‘The Impact:’ New television ads warn smokers about driving while high

By | June 25, 2014 | 0 Comments

Traffic safety officials are launching a new television advertising campaign in July to warn people about the consequences of driving after smoking pot.

The state’s first retail marijuana stores are set to open on July 8, and the ads coincide with stepped-up DUI patrols that will begin on July 1.

The campaign features three 30-second television commercials produced by the Colorado Department of Transportation. The message of the ads: You can do a lot of things high, but don’t drive. Here’s an example:

On this week’s edition of “The Impact,” host Jennifer Huntley talks with Shelly Baldwin, a program manager with the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, about the new ad campaign.

Also on the show, find out about an upcoming change for registered domestic partners. Couples under the age of 62 who are registered domestic partners with the state will automatically become married on June 30. The change is part of the state’s 2012 law legalizing same-sex marriage.

More information about the conversion process is available online here.

“The Impact” airs on Wednesday, June 25 at 7 & 10 p.m.

Categories: Marijuana, TVW