Sunday, March 29, 2015

Washington State Joins Colorado in Fighting Anti-Pot Lawsuit

The state's top legal official is formally urging the U.S. Supreme Court to reject a lawsuit by Nebraska and Oklahoma that challenges Colorado’s marijuana laws, saying it could threaten Washington state's own fledgling system for regulating pot.

State Attorney General Bob Ferguson made his arguments in a “friend of the court” brief filed on Friday.

Nebraska and Oklahoma filed a lawsuit with the high court in December, claiming that Colorado’s Amendment 64 legalizing marijuana under state law is preempted by federal drug laws. They ask the court to hear the case under its “original jurisdiction” over lawsuits between states.

Washington state’s legal brief urges the court to reject that request.

“I am disappointed that Nebraska and Oklahoma took this step to interfere with Colorado’s popularly enacted initiative to legalize marijuana,” Ferguson said. “I filed this brief to protect Washington’s interests and the will of Washington’s voters from interference by other states.

“If the Supreme Court takes the unfortunate step of agreeing to hear this case, it will threaten every state’s ability to make its own decisions about how best to regulate marijuana, whether for medical or recreational purposes,” he added.

The lawsuit by Oklahoma and Nebraska officials claims that marijuana purchased in Colorado is being brought into neighboring states where it remains illegal.

"This contraband has been heavily trafficked into our state," Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning said. "While Colorado reaps millions from the sale of pot, Nebraska taxpayers have to bear the cost."

Some law enforcement agencies in western Nebraska, along the Colorado border, have complained that marijuana from the neighboring state has drained their resources.

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt says Colorado's legalization of pot has hindered his state's efforts to enforce its anti-marijuana laws. Pruitt said marijuana poses health and safety risks to children and teens.

But the brief filed by Washington state argues that the Supreme Court should not take up the lawsuit based on its own longstanding policies regarding disputes between states.

Ferguson argues that the lawsuit does not involve Oklahoma's or Nebraska's "sovereign interests," but is a simple policy dispute over how best to regulate marijuana and therefore not an issue for the Supreme Court.

Ferguson also argues that the lawsuit should be heard first in a lower court.

"That venue would allow the states to resolve their dispute without immediately impacting other jurisdictions around the country the way a U.S. Supreme Court decision could," Ferguson said in a prepared statement.

If you or a loved one is in a bind as a result of a DUI, immediately contact a Seattle DUI attorney. A DUI lawyer is not going to judge you, and understands that everyone makes mistakes. Hiring a Seattle DUI lawyer to help can – at a minimum – reduce those penalties, and can help direct people on how to best deal with their DUI charge. So it should go without saying that someone cited for DUI should hire a qualified Seattle DUI lawyer as soon as possible. Driving Under the Influence charges can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with DUI in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle DUI lawyer.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Seattle Launches Pot-Prevention Effort Aimed at Teens

More than two years after Washington legalized marijuana, community groups in Seattle are launching a citywide effort aimed at preventing use of marijuana and other drugs by teens.

The campaign, with support from the Seattle City Attorney's Office, aims to spread positive messages that most kids don't use drugs or alcohol. The messages, which also ask parents to talk to their kids about marijuana, are being displayed on nine billboards around the city, some of them donated by Clear Channel Outdoor.

After announcing the campaign at Aki Kurose Middle School in south Seattle on Wednesday, City Attorney Pete Holmes called the effort "an antidote to the fear-based messaging of the war on drugs." He contrasted it with an anti-marijuana youth campaign in Colorado, which told teens that if legal pot's an experiment, "Don't be a lab rat." That effort featured oversized rat cages placed outside parks, libraries and schools - a bit too reminiscent of jail cells for Holmes' taste.

In Seattle, organizers are asking students to take part in their "Above the Influence" contest, including taking selfies showing what inspires them not to use drugs or alcohol. Prizes include Seattle Seahawks and Sounders tickets.

Last June and July, as the state's first licensed pot shops were preparing to open, the Department of Health scraped together $400,000 from other programs to run a statewide radio and online campaign targeting parents. But this is the first effort aimed at youth in Seattle since Initiative 502 passed.

Meanwhile, a newly published University of Washington study suggests further public messaging about the state's marijuana law might be warranted: Just 57 percent of parents in a small, ongoing survey of 115 low-income families in Tacoma knew that 21 is the legal age for recreational pot use, and just 63 percent knew that growing marijuana at home isn't allowed.

The study found 71 percent of 10th graders knew the legal age, but fewer than half knew the legal limit for marijuana possession - up to an ounce of dried bud.

The legal-pot law itself directs some tax revenues from legal marijuana sales to prevention efforts, but Health Department spokesman Donn Moyer said the state hasn't yet disbursed money to the agency for that purpose.

Mike Graham-Squire, a manager at the social services organization Neighborhood House, said the Seattle campaign has so far totaled $60,000, including $15,000 from the city. They are looking for additional sponsors.

If you or a loved one is in a bind as a result of a DUI, immediately contact a Seattle DUI attorney. A DUI lawyer is not going to judge you, and understands that everyone makes mistakes. Hiring a Seattle DUI lawyer to help can – at a minimum – reduce those penalties, and can help direct people on how to best deal with their DUI charge. So it should go without saying that someone cited for DUI should hire a qualified Seattle DUI lawyer as soon as possible. Driving Under the Influence charges can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with DUI in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle DUI lawyer.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Illegal Pot Store Could Be Fined $1k a Day

A Parkland recreational marijuana store that's flouting the county's pot ban was served with a notice of violation on Wednesday.

Owners of The Gallery received their state license last week and officially began selling marijuana on Sunday, despite a countywide ban on recreational marijuana sales.

"Our intention is not to pick a fight with the county or poke anyone in the eye,"  Gallery co-owner Tedd Wetherbee said on Sunday. "We don't want to do that -- we just want to say, 'Let us do business, let us pay taxes to the state and let us do what we've been licensed to do by the state.'"

The county responded Wednesday by serving the shop a notice of violation for operating without a required permit. County officials say the business is in violation of county code by "operating without a tenant occupancy permit." The business owners have two weeks to appeal the notice, according to the county.

On Sunday, Wetherbee said the business is here to stay and pointed to a dozen nearby medical marijuana dispensaries that are operating illegally.

"We're licensed by the state to do business. We're doing absolutely nothing illegal," he said last week.

Washington's Initiative 502 legalized marijuana in 2014, but Pierce County created an ordinance that says recreational pot shops won't be allowed until marijuana is "removed from the schedule of controlled substances by the federal government."

The Gallery could be fined up to $1,000 a day for operating without the proper permits, according to the county.

If you or a loved one is in a bind as a result of a DUI, immediately contact a Seattle DUI attorney. A DUI lawyer is not going to judge you, and understands that everyone makes mistakes. Hiring a Seattle DUI lawyer to help can – at a minimum – reduce those penalties, and can help direct people on how to best deal with their DUI charge. So it should go without saying that someone cited for DUI should hire a qualified Seattle DUI lawyer as soon as possible. Driving Under the Influence charges can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with DUI in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle DUI lawyer.

WA House Approves Marijuana Deal with Native American Tribes

The Washington state House of Representatives passed by a wide margin a bill to allow the state's Native American tribes to formally participate in the state's legalized marijuana business.

The bill passed the House Thursday with bipartisan support in an 80-18 vote Thursday afternoon. It authorizes the governor's office to negotiate compacts with tribal groups that want to coordinate their marijuana businesses with the state's rules.

The bill's lead sponsor, Rep. Christopher Hurst, D-Enumclaw, said the bill was needed after the federal government last year took the position that tribes in states with legal marijuana are free to set their own policies about the drug. The bill moves next to the Senate for consideration.

If you or a loved one is in a bind as a result of a DUI, immediately contact a Seattle DUI attorney. A DUI lawyer is not going to judge you, and understands that everyone makes mistakes. Hiring a Seattle DUI lawyer to help can – at a minimum – reduce those penalties, and can help direct people on how to best deal with their DUI charge. So it should go without saying that someone cited for DUI should hire a qualified Seattle DUI lawyer as soon as possible. Driving Under the Influence charges can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with DUI in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle DUI lawyer.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Senate Passes Bill to Oberhaul Medical Marijuana Industry

A measure seeking to reconcile Washington state's medical marijuana industry with its heavily taxed recreational sector passed the Washington state Senate on Friday.

Senate Bill 5052 passed on a bipartisan 36-11 vote and now heads to the House for consideration. It is one of several measures brought forth by lawmakers this year after efforts to address the dual markets died in the House last session.

The passage of Initiative 502 in 2012 allowed the sale of marijuana to adults for recreational use at licensed stores, which started opening last summer. Recreational businesses have complained that they're being squeezed by medical dispensaries that have proliferated in many parts of the state, providing lesser- or untaxed alternatives to licensed recreational stores.

Among its many provisions, the bill passed Friday would create a database of patients, who would be allowed to possess three times as much marijuana as is allowed under the recreational law: 3 ounces dry, 48 ounces of marijuana-infused solids, 216 ounces liquid, and 21 grams of concentrates. They could also grow up to six plants at home, unless authorized to receive more by a health professional. It would also exempt patients from paying sales tax on medical products.

The measure would crack down on collective gardens, eliminating the current collective garden structure starting July 1, 2016, but allowing four-patient "cooperatives." The cooperatives would be limited to a maximum of 60 plants, and the location of the collective would have to be registered with the state, and couldn't be within 15 miles of a licensed pot retailer.

But it would also provide an avenue for existing collective gardens to stay in business, by requiring the state Liquor Control Board - which would be renamed the Liquor and Cannabis Board under the bill - to adopt a merit-based system for granting marijuana licenses. Among the factors that could be considered are whether the applicant previously operated a collective garden, had a business license or paid business taxes.

The board would also raise its previously stated limit on marijuana retailers - 334 statewide - to accommodate the medical industry.

Several amendments failed, including one by Democratic Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles of Seattle that would have allowed all adults 21 or older to grow up to six marijuana plants at home. Another amendment by Kohl-Welles - who has a separate bill addressing the two marijuana markets - that would have removed the registry aspect of the bill also failed. She called the registry an infringement of patients' privacy.

"What I am most concerned about is that patients have an adequate, a safe, a secure supply of the medicine that works for them without government intrusion and without a new bureaucracy being developed," she said.

If you or a loved one is in a bind as a result of a DUI, immediately contact a Seattle DUI attorney. A DUI lawyer is not going to judge you, and understands that everyone makes mistakes. Hiring a Seattle DUI lawyer to help can – at a minimum – reduce those penalties, and can help direct people on how to best deal with their DUI charge. So it should go without saying that someone cited for DUI should hire a qualified Seattle DUI lawyer as soon as possible. Driving Under the Influence charges can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with DUI in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle DUI lawyer. 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Senate Passes Bill Allowing Industrial Hemp

Industrial hemp would be allowed to be grown in Washington state under a measure passed by the Senate.

Senate Bill 5012 received unanimous support Wednesday in the Senate and now heads to the House for consideration.

The measure authorizes the growing of industrial hemp as an agricultural activity in the state. It also directs Washington State University to study industrial hemp production in the state, with a report due to the Legislature by Jan. 14, 2016.

Hemp, like marijuana, comes from the cannabis plant but has much less THC, the active ingredient in marijuana that makes people high.

Washington voters passed Initiative 502 in November 2012 to legalize and regulate the recreational use of pot by adults over 21, and the first state-licensed pot stores opened last summer.

If you or a loved one is in a bind as a result of a DUI, immediately contact a Seattle DUI attorney. A DUI lawyer is not going to judge you, and understands that everyone makes mistakes. Hiring a Seattle DUI lawyer to help can – at a minimum – reduce those penalties, and can help direct people on how to best deal with their DUI charge. So it should go without saying that someone cited for DUI should hire a qualified Seattle DUI lawyer as soon as possible. Driving Under the Influence charges can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with DUI in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle DUI lawyer. 



Tuesday, February 3, 2015

State Looks To Share Marijuana Taxes

Washington state legalized marijuana more than two years ago, but in much of the state, there's still no place to get the sanctioned stuff: More than 100 cities and counties have banned pot businesses, making it tough to undermine the black market.

Lawmakers think they have at least a partial solution: paying the locals to let licensed weed come to town.

Under bills introduced in both houses in Olympia, the state would share a chunk of its marijuana tax revenue with cities and counties - but only if they allow approved marijuana businesses in their jurisdictions. It's an approach that has worked to some degree in Colorado, said Kevin Bommer, deputy director of the Colorado Municipal League.

Washington's legal pot law, Initiative 502, passed with 56 percent of the vote in 2012. But in many parts of the state - especially in central and eastern Washington - voters opposed it. Officials in many cities have imposed bans on the pot businesses, seeing little reason to let them operate, and courts have upheld their authority to do so.

In Poulsbo, a city west of Seattle, a slim majority of voters approved the legal pot law, but the city adopted an outright ban on marijuana businesses. Councilman Ed Sterns said the ban was motivated entirely by the lack of revenue sharing. Sterns serves on the board of the Association of Washington Cities - an organization that was formed to press the state to share liquor revenue after alcohol prohibition ended in 1933.

Local governments continue to get a cut of liquor revenue, and if the state does the same with marijuana, Sterns said he'd urge Poulsbo to reconsider its ban.

Since legal marijuana stores opened in Washington last summer, the state has collected $20 million in pot taxes. In Colorado, sales and excises taxes on pot hit $50 million in the first year of legal sales, with about $6 million sent back to local governments.

But even in Colorado, three-quarters of the state's 271 cities ban marijuana businesses.

Under I-502, the tax money was dedicated largely to health care: After the state paid off a few items, including the cost of administering the new law, half of the remaining tax collections were directed to a program that provided health insurance for low-income workers.

Under the national health insurance overhaul known as the Affordable Care Act, that program vanished. Some lawmakers, led by La Center Republican Sen. Ann Rivers, want to split the money that would have gone to it: One-third of it would go to cities and counties based partly on how much pot-related revenue they generate for the state. The rest would go into the state's general fund.

Sen. Karen Keiser, a Democrat from the Seattle suburb of Kent, said at a committee hearing on the measure Monday that she was concerned about the turn away from health care, noting that local health departments are chronically underfunded.

The issue is one of many facing lawmakers on the marijuana front - the most pressing of which is reconciling Washington's unregulated, largely untaxed medical marijuana system with taxed and regulated recreational sales. Other measures under consideration include requiring a vote of the public for communities to ban pot businesses, and allowing communities greater flexibility in where the businesses can be located.

If you or a loved one is in a bind as a result of a DUI, immediately contact a Seattle DUI attorney. A DUI lawyer is not going to judge you, and understands that everyone makes mistakes. Hiring a Seattle DUI lawyer to help can – at a minimum – reduce those penalties, and can help direct people on how to best deal with their DUI charge. So it should go without saying that someone cited for DUI should hire a qualified Seattle DUI lawyer as soon as possible. Driving Under the Influence charges can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with DUI in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle DUI lawyer.