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.