Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Daylight DUI Arrests on the Rise

The Washington State Patrol is warning motorists to be on the lookout for drunk drivers after a series of daylight DUI arrests in recent days.

The most recent case came Tuesday morning when a woman was pulled over in Olympia and found with a blood-alcohol level of more than three times the legal limit of .08 percent.

Trooper Guy Gill said a state trooper was heading across the Custer Avenue bridge over Interstate 5 on his way to a new assignment when he spotted a car heading down the street with its driver's side scraping along against the concrete barrier.

The trooper turned on his flashers and the car came to a stop. He walked up to the car and the woman behind the wheel was surprised to see him because she thought her car was still moving.

"The driver actually thought the vehicle was still rolling, so she was highly intoxicated," Gill said. Her breath test revealed that she was well over three times the legal limit.

"And this was not even 11 oclock in the morning," he said. "So you can see she had no business even remotely close to being behind the wheel of a vehicle, and that was very obvious to the trooper when he made contact with that driver."

Gill said troopers have arrested eight drivers for DUI during daylight hours in Olympia alone over the past two weeks.

"DUI is not just a nighttime issue. It is a 24/7 problem and we're always encouraging motorists to call in if they see someone who could be an impaired driver," he 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, October 5, 2014

Bigger Harvest Could Lower Washington Legal Marijuana Prices

Slowly and in beat with the rhythms of agriculture, licensed producers are growing enough pot that retailers hope to eventually lower prices enough to diminish the black market, one of the major justifications for Initiative 502, passed by state voters nearly two years ago.

So far, legal marijuana store owners admit legalizing and licensing marijuana has done little to combat street sales, where unscrupulous dealers don't test their products, pay taxes or check the age of their customers.

Statistics for 2014 are not out yet, but there's an increase this year in illegal grows on tribal lands, public lands and in backyards, said Jodie Underwood, a spokeswoman the federal Drug Enforcement Administration's regional office in Seattle.

Just last Monday, authorities seized 20 pounds of processed marijuana and 43 plants in Zillah. The same day, police arrested two men they accuse of stealing medical marijuana from a home in Selah.

Currently, Yakima Valley retailers pay wholesale producers from $8 to $15 per gram, about the same range as the street value of the untaxed, illicit version that runs anywhere from $10 to $20 per gram depending on quality. Medical marijuana, often sold illegally, runs between $10 to $12 per gram, retailers say.

Store owners then charge between $25 to $40 to cover their operating expenses and taxes. The state charges a 25 percent excise tax on all retail sales, while the federal government, which still considers marijuana against the law, charges store owners income tax but allows no deductions.

The math often works out to a net gain of less than 5 percent from which retailers must pay rent, utilities, wages and their monthly bills for their startup loans.

However, things have improved and will keep improving, some retailers promise. At least stores can keep their doors open now.

Up until this fall, most of the state's marijuana has come from more indoor growers, who have much higher electric bills than Eastern Washington's sunlight farmers.

Marijuana business owners predict the extra supply from the sun-grown harvests will allow them to cut their prices in half sometime this fall.

Adam Markus, owner of Station 420 in Union Gap, also predicts prices will drop by half but doesn't suspect they will stay that way for long.

Just this week, Markus drove twice to Spokane and once to Seattle to meet with growers in search of enough product to keep his shelves full.

Last week, he spent a day and a half with no marijuana in small packages, in spite of an entire day of desperate phone calls.

Markus suspects prices will drop only for a few months but go back up again once retailers sell out of their outdoor-grown supplies. Changes to federal tax laws in his favor aren't coming anytime soon either, he said.

As of Tuesday, the state had issued licenses to 235 marijuana producers, though not all have necessarily started growing. Klickitat County had 12, Kittitas County five, Benton County six and Grant County two. Yakima County had one.

Yakima County has banned all marijuana businesses in the unincorporated areas, while the city of Moxee allows only producers and processors, not retail stores. Most growers prefer locating outside city limits, where they have more space between themselves and neighbors and cheaper water.

Growing pot is more technical than it looks, producers say, another trait it shares with most of the region's crops.

Crews must watch out for pests and mold, manage canopy density and regulate water. Most of the Kittitas growers haul water in by truck because of the Department of Ecology's moratorium on new wells.

At least two of the Kittitas County growers, including Life Gardens, aren't completely outdoors.

They plant in grow tubes with plastic tarps stretched over a pipe skeleton similar to those used by a handful of Yakima Valley vegetable farmers. The tubes let in fresh air and sunlight but allow the gardeners to regulate heat and humidity. In the future, they may be able to harvest three times in one year, instead of just once, or at least stagger their seasons to keep the supply more steady.

At Life Gardens, bamboo stakes support the weight of budding branches, much the way notched lumber once did for ripe apples.

Mark Ziegler spots a stick with too much ripening foliage crammed against it, causing him to worry about mold. On another stake, wire chokes a ripening bud.

"I'll have to find out whose row this is," he said.

Ziegler, 37, moved to the Ellensburg area in late June from Santa Rosa, Calif., where he worked for many years tending medical cannabis crops.

Already, his crews may have learned some lessons. Their plants, some more than 7 feet tall, have grown so big and wide that workers have to crawl on their hands and knees to reach the ones in the back. They might spread things out a little next year.

"A lot of people underestimate it and they learn the hard way," Ziegler 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. 

Monday, September 29, 2014

Marijuana Entrepreneurs Becoming Political Donors

The entrepreneurs of the young U.S. marijuana industry are taking another step into the mainstream, becoming political donors who use some of their profits to support cannabis-friendly candidates and ballot questions that could bring legal pot to more states.

The political activity includes swanky fundraisers at Four Seasons hotels and art auctions at law firms. And members of Congress who once politely returned the industry's contribution checks are now keeping them.

Medical marijuana businesses have been giving to candidates since the late 1990s. With the arrival of recreational pot in Colorado and Washington, the industry and its political influence are expanding rapidly.

Pot is now legal for medical or recreational purposes in 23 states and Washington, D.C. More marijuana measures will be on the November ballot in Oregon, Florida, Alaska and the nation's capital, so many contributions are being funneled into those campaigns and the candidates who support them.

In Washington state, the industry's contributions are channeled into reforms that include reducing the tax rate on pot and kicking some marijuana revenue back to cities and counties to encourage more communities to allow dispensaries, said dispensary owner John Davis, who also serves as director of the Coalition for Cannabis Standards and Ethics.

The Oregon ballot measure has raised about $2.3 million. A medical-marijuana question in Florida has attracted nearly $6 million. And the Alaska campaign has brought in about $850,000. A recreational pot measure in Washington, D.C., attracted few donations, perhaps because it appears almost certain to pass.

Colorado's congressional delegation alone has received some $20,000 this year from the marijuana industry, according to federal campaign-finance data. The true figure is probably much higher because many donors do not mention the drug in campaign-finance disclosures.

The largest federal spender on marijuana advocacy is the Marijuana Policy Project, which plans to donate $150,000 to federal candidates this year, up from $110,000 in 2013. The Drug Policy Alliance and the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws have also given directly to federal candidates, and tax-exempt industry groups such as the National Cannabis Industry Association can spend an unlimited amount of untracked money.

Politicians who used to reject checks from pro-marijuana donors "aren't doing that anymore," said Ethan Nadelmann, head of the New York-based Drug Policy Alliance.

Still, the same candidates who cash the checks aren't always keen to talk about it. About a dozen recipients of marijuana money declined interview requests or did not return calls from The Associated Press.

A Colorado state lawmaker who accepts marijuana-industry donations conceded thinking twice before taking them.

"I always worry about what people's perceptions will be," said Rep. Jonathan Singer, a Democrat who is the only sitting Colorado legislator who supported legalization. "But it came down to, I'm on record for where I stood before I ever took a penny from this industry."

Todd Mitchem, a Denver marijuana industry consultant, recalled a fundraiser earlier this year thrown by a maker of cannabis vaporizer cartridges for a state legislator. When the company posted photos from the event on its Facebook page, the lawmaker asked that the images be taken down.

"They just didn't want to be seen. They were still taking the money," said Mitchem, who declined to name the lawmaker.

The only member of Congress who responded to the AP was Colorado Democratic Rep. Jared Polis, a longtime ally of the marijuana industry who has proposed federal legalization.

"As long as this industry Is following our state marijuana laws," Polis said in a statement, "their contributions are the same as those from any other legal donors."

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, September 22, 2014

Petey to Dismiss All Seattle Marijuana Tickets

Seattle's elected prosecutor says he's dropping all tickets issued for the public use of marijuana through the first seven months of this year, because most of them were issued by a single police officer who disagrees with the legal pot law.

In a briefing to the City Council on Monday, City Attorney Pete Holmes said he is moving to dismiss approximately 100 tickets issued by the Seattle Police Department between Jan. 1 and July 31. His office also said it would be seeking a refund for those who have already paid their $27 ticket.

Through the first six months of the year, a single officer wrote about 80 percent of the tickets, addressing some of them to "Petey Holmes" or writing that he considered the pot law "silly."

The officer, Randy Jokela, is now under official investigation by the department's Office of Professional Accountability.

In one ticket, the officer wrote that he found two people smoking marijuana and made them flip a coin to decide which person would be cited.

"(Suspect) lost the coin flip so he got the ticket while the other person walked. (Suspect) was allowed to keep his pipe," the ticket reads.

In another ticket, the officer referred to Washington's voter-enacted changes to marijuana laws as "silly," according to Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O'Toole.

Jokela was temporarily reassigned but is now back on patrol. Meanwhile, the internal department investigation is ongoing.

 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, September 14, 2014

Grow Operations in WA In Need of More Power

As more marijuana producers move their plants indoors over the next two decades, the grow operations in Washington state are expected to need as much electricity each year as what a small Northwest city consumes, according to an energy forecast by regional power planners.

Demands on the Northwest electrical grid would grow further if Oregon voters pass a ballot initiative in November to legalize recreational pot use, according to the Northwest Power and Conservation Council.

The council, which develops a long-term power plan for Washington, Oregon, Idaho and parts of Montana, has been studying the impacts of electricity needs for operations that grow legal marijuana indoors in Washington state.

New energy demand among growers of marijuana is estimated to expand to as much as 163 megawatts a year by 2035. That represents about 10 percent of what Seattle uses annually, or roughly what a small city such as McMinnville, Oregon, uses, said Tom Eckman, the council's power planning director.

Still, it makes up less than 1 percent of overall regional electricity use.

"We're trying to ensure that we have adequate, affordable power supply," Eckman said. The analysis will be incorporated into long-term energy demand forecasts for the region, which is used by Bonneville Power Administration and regional utilities for planning.

Since Washington voters in 2012 approved an initiative to legalize recreational pot use by adults, the state Liquor Control Board has so far issued more than 200 licenses to marijuana growers out of about 2,500 who have applied.

Most producers grow pot outside, but they may start to move more operations into warehouses to get continuous harvests or have better control over the amount of light plants receive.

Indoor grow operations can be energy intensive, requiring electricity for grow lights or air conditioning systems to cool warehouses and control humidity.

The power council is in the process of developing a 20-year regional power plan for electrical needs in the Northwest and pays close attention to new and emerging energy uses, such as indoor marijuana operations, new data centers and electric vehicle charging, Eckman 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. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Studies Show Traffic Deaths Won't Rise as States Legalize Marijuana

As states liberalize their marijuana laws, public officials and safety advocates worry that more drivers high on pot will lead to a big increase in traffic deaths. Researchers, though, are divided on the question.

Studies of marijuana's effects show that the drug can slow decision-making, decrease peripheral vision and impede multitasking, all of which are critical driving skills. But unlike with alcohol, drivers high on pot tend to be aware that they are impaired and try to compensate by driving slowly, avoiding risky actions such as passing other cars, and allowing extra room between vehicles.

On the other hand, combining marijuana with alcohol appears to eliminate the pot smoker's exaggerated caution and seems to increase driving impairment beyond the effects of either substance alone.

Colorado and Washington are the only states that allow retail sales of marijuana for recreational use. Efforts to legalize recreational marijuana are underway in Alaska, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon and the District of Columbia. Twenty-three states and the nation's capital permit marijuana use for medical purposes. It is illegal in all states to drive while impaired by marijuana.

Colorado, Washington and Montana have set an intoxication threshold of 5 parts per billion of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in pot, in the blood. A few other states have set intoxication thresholds, but most have not set a specific level. In Washington, there was a jump of nearly 25 percent in drivers testing positive for marijuana in 2013 - the first full year after legalization - but no corresponding increase in car accidents or fatalities.

What worries highway safety experts are cases like that of New York teenager Joseph Beer, who in October 2012 smoked marijuana, climbed into a Subaru Impreza with four friends and drove more than 100 mph before losing control. The car crashed into trees with such force that the vehicle split in half, killing his friends.

Beer pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicular homicide and was sentenced last week to 5 years to 15 years in prison.

A prosecutor blamed the crash on "speed and weed," but a Yale University Medical School expert on drug abuse who testified at the trial said studies of marijuana and crash risk are "highly inconclusive." Some studies show a two- or three-fold increase, while others show none, said Dr. Mehmet Sofuoglu. Some studies even showed less risk if someone was marijuana positive, he testified.

Teenage boys and young men are the most likely drivers to smoke pot and the most likely drivers to have an accident regardless of whether they're high, he said.

In 2012, just over 10 percent of high school seniors said they had smoked pot before driving at least once in the prior two weeks, according to Monitoring the Future, an annual University of Michigan survey of 50,000 middle and high school students. Nearly twice as many male students as female students said they had smoked marijuana before driving.

A roadside survey by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2007 found 8.6 percent of drivers tested positive for THC, but it's not possible to say how many were high at the time because drivers were tested only for the presence of drugs, not the amount.

A marijuana high generally peaks within a half hour and dissipates within three hours, but THC can linger for days in the bodies of habitual smokers.

Inexperienced pot smokers are likely to be more impaired than habitual smokers, who develop a tolerance. Some studies show virtually no driving impairment in habitual smokers.

Two recent studies that used similar data to assess crash risk came to opposite conclusions.

Columbia University researchers compared drivers who tested positive for marijuana in the roadside survey with state drug and alcohol tests of drivers killed in crashes. They found that marijuana alone increased the likelihood of being involved in a fatal crash by 80 percent.

But because the study included states where not all drivers are tested for alcohol and drugs, a majority of drivers in fatal crashes were excluded, possibly skewing the results. Also, the use of urine tests rather than blood tests in some cases may overestimate marijuana use and impairment.

A Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation study used the roadside survey and data from nine states that test more than 80 percent of drivers killed in crashes. When adjusted for alcohol and driver demographics, the study found that otherwise sober drivers who tested positive for marijuana were slightly less likely to have been involved in a crash than drivers who tested negative for all drugs.

Many states do not test drivers involved in a fatal crash for drugs unless there is reason to suspect impairment. Even if impairment is suspected, if the driver tests positive for alcohol, there may be no further testing because alcohol alone may be enough to bring criminal charges. Testing procedures also vary from state to state.

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, August 25, 2014

Drunk Driver Pulled Over by 36 foot Motorhome

While the country discusses the troubling militarization of its police forces, drunk drivers in Washington should perhaps be worried about the recreational-ization of its State Patrol after a 28-year-old man was arrested by a lieutenant behind the wheel of a 36-foot motorhome Aug. 9.

According to the Washington State Patrol, the lieutenant was driving the department's Mobile Impaired Driving Unit back to its Bellevue District office around 3 a.m. when he spotted an erratic driver on 156th Street near I-90.

The Mobile Impaired Driving Unit is a 36-foot motorhome that has been turned into a mobile DUI processing center and command post. It is also equipped with emergency lights.

As there were no other units in the area, the lieutenant pulled over the 2001 Honda Accord and arrested the driver for investigation of DUI. It probably looked like a rhinoceros catching a hamster.

If you lose your privilege to drive because of a DUI incident in Washington State, you should not only check with DOL as to when you will be eligible to lawfully drive again, but you should also immediately contact a Seattle DUI attorney. A DUI attorney is not going to judge you, and understands that everyone makes mistakes. Hiring a Seattle DUI attorney to help can – at a minimum – reduce DUI penalties, and can help direct people on how to best deal with their DUI charge. 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.