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.

Monday, August 18, 2014

NFL Looking at New Marijuana Policies

Marijuana is casting an ever-thickening haze across NFL locker rooms, and it's not simply because more players are using it.

As attitudes toward the drug soften, and science slowly teases out marijuana's possible benefits for concussions and other injuries, the NFL is reaching a critical point in navigating its tenuous relationship with what is recognized as the analgesic of choice for many of its players.

One challenge the NFL faces is how to bring marijuana into the game as a pain reliever without condoning its use as a recreational drug. And facing a lawsuit filed on behalf of hundreds of former players complaining about the effects of prescription painkillers they say were pushed on them by team trainers and doctors, the NFL is looking for other ways to help players deal with the pain from a violent game.

A Gallup poll last year found 58 percent of Americans believe marijuana should be legalized. That's already happened in Colorado and Washington - the states that are home of last season's Super Bowl teams.

The World Anti-Doping Agency has said it does not need to catch out-of-competition marijuana users. And at least one high-profile coach, Pete Carroll of the champion Seahawks, publicly said he'd like to see the NFL study whether marijuana can help players.

There are no hard numbers on how many NFL players are using marijuana, but anecdotal evidence, including the arrest or league discipline of no fewer than a dozen players for pot over the past 18 months, suggests use is becoming more common.

The NFL is fighting lawsuits on two fronts - concussions and painkillers - both of which, some argue, could be positively influenced if marijuana were better tolerated by the league.

The science, however, is slow-moving and expensive and might not ever be conclusive, says behavioral psychologist Ryan Vandrey, who studies marijuana use at John Hopkins. Marijuana may work better for some people, while narcotics and other painkillers might be better for others.

The Washington Redskins, who are part of the concussion lawsuit, is working with a bio-pharmaceutical and phyto-medical company called KannaLife Sciences that recently received licensing from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop a drug to treat concussions using derivatives from medical marijuana.

Co-founder Thoma Kikis, who has been working on cannibas-based solutions to concussions for a few years, said he approached the NFL about signing on to the research.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has treaded gingerly around the subject. Before last season's Super Bowl he said the league would "follow the medicine" and not rule out allowing players to use marijuana for medical purposes. An NFL spokesman reiterated that this month, saying if medical advisers inform the league it should consider modifying the policy, it would explore possible changes.

A spokesman for the players union declined comment on marijuana, beyond saying the union is always looking for ways to improve the drug-testing policy. But earlier this year, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said the marijuana policy is secondary when set against the failure to bring Human Growth Hormone testing into the game. Some believe relaxing the marijuana rules could be linked to a deal that would bring in HGH testing.

The NFL drug policy has come under even more scrutiny this summer, after the NFL handed down a season-long suspension of Browns receiver Josh Gordon for multiple violations of the NFL substance-abuse policy. That suspension, especially when juxtaposed against the two-game ban Ray Rice received for domestic violence, has led some to say the league's priorities are out of whack.

In June, Harvard Medical School professor emeritus Lester Grinspoon, one of the forefathers of marijuana research, published an open letter to Goodell, urging him to drop urine testing for weed altogether and, more importantly, fund a crash research project for a marijuana-based drug that can alleviate the consequences of concussions.

The league does, in fact, fund sports-health research at the NIH, to the tune of a $30 million donation it made in 2012. But the science moves slowly no matter where it's conducted and, as Vandrey says, "the NFL is in business for playing football, not doing scientific research."

Meanwhile, marijuana becomes more and more acceptable across America every day. But even with the Super Bowl being dubbed "The Stoner Bowl" and the issue hanging heavily over the NFL's marquee event, the league has shown no signs of quick movement.

The league's threshold for a positive test remains 10 times lower than that of WADA, which changed its limit last year in a nod to the reality that the drug is not a performance enhancer.

The NFL's conundrum is figuring a graceful way to keep tabs on those who use marijuana recklessly - or recreationally - while giving others a legitimate form of pain relief.

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, August 10, 2014

Marijuana Sales Reach $3.8 million in First Month

During the first month of legal marijuana sales in Washington state, stores sold just under $3.8 million, which is expected to bring in more than $1 million in state taxes, the state reported on Friday.

Although licenses have been issued for about 40 stores, only 18 were selling pot in July, and 16 of them have reported sales so far in August.

During the first month of retail marijuana sales in Colorado, the state collected closer to $2 million in excise and sales taxes.

Like Colorado, Washington will tax marijuana in two ways: sales taxes and excise taxes.

Excise taxes are paid at three different points in the process: When the grower transfers the marijuana to the processor, when the processor transfers it to the store and when the retailer sells it to the consumer. The tax rate at all three points is 25 percent.

The Legislature is not banking on any marijuana revenue until the next fiscal year begins in July 2015. They have forecast tax collections totaling $122 million in the next two-year state budget cycle.

The state of Colorado has collected $29.8 million in all marijuana taxes, fees and licenses since recreational sales became legal in January. That number includes medical marijuana taxes.

About $24.7 million worth of recreational pot was sold in June in Colorado, the state reported Friday. Colorado's July tax collections have not yet been reported.

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 4, 2014

Former King County Sherrif's Deputy Pleads Guilty

A veteran King County Sheriff's deputy who helped his wife start a prostitution business, stole ammunition from the sheriff's office and dabbled in a number of illegal drugs pleaded guilty to three felony charges Monday as part of a deal with prosecutors.

A judge then sentenced Darrion Holiwell to one year plus one day in jail, calling him a disgrace to his profession.

Holiwell, a 49-year-old Seattle man, was charged with promoting prostitution, theft, and drug dealing.

Holiwell's transgressions first came to light during divorce proceedings with his third wife, Alicia Holiwell. According to the charging documents, Alicia had been physically abused by Holiwell, though she did not report the incidents, and she contacted his previous wife, Dana Smith, to see if there was a pattern. Smith was reportedly so overwhelmed by what Alicia told her, she contacted a friend who works for the sheriff's office. That friend notified her supervisor, and an investigation began.

Holiwell and Alicia separated in May 2013 -- supposedly temporarily to work on their marriage -- and Alicia got her own condo. According to the charging documents, she started her escort business shortly after.

Alicia told detectives Holiwell provided her advice on how to run the business, and in the beginning she would text him her clients' IDs and inform him when she was with a client as a security measure.

Once the business got going, Alicia was making $2,000 a weekend, and Holiwell would collect approximately 80 percent of the profits, according to the charging documents.

During this time, Holiwell reportedly supplied Alicia with human growth hormone to lose weight and marijuana and "molly," a form of Ecstasy, to help with her escort appointments.

According to the charging documents, this arrangement ended when Holiwell started dating Alicia's 20-year-old friend, violating the terms of their open relationship. Alicia got angry and filed for divorce.

Following the interviews with Alicia, detectives served search warrants at Holiwell's home and the Sheriff's Office firing range.

According to the charging documents, those search warrants turned up evidence that Holiwell had been taking both live and spent ammunition from the firing range without approval.

He reportedly gave some of the ammunition to a longtime friend who was providing him with drugs, as well as advice on the escort business. Other ammunition he traded in for credit at gun shops around the region, using it to by supplies for both his SWAT team and himself, according to the charging documents.

All told, Holiwell reportedly stole $15,000 worth of live ammunition and another 19,000 pounds of spent ammunition.

In addition, detectives turned up a number of illegal drugs, including steroids, at Holiwell's home, according to the charging documents.

Holiwell has been with the Sheriff's Office since 1995 and was a member of the department's SWAT unit and its chief firearms instructor until his arrest.

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

Monday, July 28, 2014

Advocates Want Warning Labels on Edibles

With marijuana officially legal and available to all Washington adults, there is now a growing call for the marijuana industry to do more to warn people about what's actually in the edible pot-infused products they're buying.

Seattle's City Attorney Pete Holmes is calling on the State Liquor Control Board to strengthen its rules on requiring edibles to show servings per container on the packaging itself.

"As people imbibe, they don't feel the immediate effect. Then they continue to imbibe, only to find that after they've ingested too much that the delayed onset effect has gotten them to a place they didn't want to be," Holmes said.

Holmes said the Washington Poison Center has seen a spike in children consuming edible marijuana since recreational sales began earlier this month.

Holmes also wants a ban on marijuana advertising on commercial vehicles and an increase in retail licenses to make sure people have enough to buy legally rather than turning to the illegal trade.

  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.