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December 12, 2014 at 10:46 AM

Retiring LCB chairwoman enjoying her marijuana brownies after knee surgery

We asked Sharon Foster if retiring as chairwoman of the Liquor Control Board offered her new opportunities. She recently had knee-replacement surgery.

"For marijuana use?" she replied. "My physical therapist said to me the other day, ‘Sharon, have you been using any of that alternate product?’ And I looked at her and said, ‘You know — I hadn’t thought about that.’ And I said, ‘Maybe I should be, for my knee …’ ”

Foster wasn't kidding.

She told the Tacoma News-Tribune she's been enjoying marijuana brownies as dessert lately.

"By the time I went to bed, which was maybe an hour and a half or two hours after I ate this brownie — piece of brownie — I didn't feel anything," Foster told the News-Tribune.

"So all I know is, I was relaxed enough to go to sleep. So if I was high, I don't know it."

December 10, 2014 at 7:56 PM

Mayor Ed Murray's office plans crackdown on marijuana-delivery businesses

The city of Seattle plans to shut down marijuana delivery services, which became popular after the state legalized recreational marijuana.

David Mendoza, a policy adviser to the mayor, said in a city council briefing Wednesday that the mayor’s office will work with Seattle police on operations against these businesses. Delivery services — which are illegal — will get a single chance to stop operating, Mendoza told the council.

“One strike and we seize your product and tell you to close,” said Mendoza.

After a second strike, SPD will make arrests, he said.

Jason Kelly, a spokesman for Mayor Ed Murray, said the administration believes shutting down delivery services will help “ensure minors don’t have access to marijuana and to ensure medical marijuana operations are serving patients that have appropriate medical authorizations.”

Mendoza said in the briefing that between seven and 10 delivery businesses advertise in The Stranger each week. In the most recent issue, some businesses advertised with phrases like “NO CARD REQUIRED,” “Tourists Welcome” and “Out of State Visitors Welcomed.”

“They’re continuing to grow,” Mendoza told council members. “There is no provision for them. We feel we should close them down.”

John Schochet, the deputy chief of staff at the City Attorney’s Office, said the police department has the authority for this kind of operation.

“The activity of selling marijuana to someone else without a (Initiative) 502 license or some kind of collective garden or designated provider status is illegal and SPD can enforce that,” said Schochet. He said those delivering medical marijuana could still be arrested and charged, though they might have a stronger potential defense because of that law’s gray areas.

Schochet said charges of felony distribution would be handled by the King County Prosecutor’s Office.

Dan Donohoe, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office, said they hadn’t received any cases against marijuana delivery services.

Oscar Velasco-Schmitz said he was pleased the mayor’s office was taking action against delivery operations. Velasco-Schmitz owns a Seattle-area recreational store and sits on the board of a medical dispensary. He said delivery undercuts both types of business.

”They don’t have the overhead of a storefront,” said Velasco-Schmitz. “They don’t have a staff. I'm assuming there’s no taxation of these businesses. There’s no oversight,” he said.

A representative who answered the phone Wednesday evening at House of Dank Delivery said he would stop advertising his business, but wouldn’t stop delivery. He declined to give his name because of the impending city crackdown.

“No I wouldn’t stop my business,” he said. “I have a pretty regular clientele. I probably only pick up 10 to 12 new customers a week,” he said.

He said House of Dank Delivery requires its customers to be older than 21. He said he thought the move would backfire on the city.

“Pioneer Square is going to be filled with a bunch of dime bags,” he said.

At the briefing, Mendoza also told the council that the mayor’s office plans to identify and shut down medical-marijuana businesses that are still operating without business licenses.

Mendoza said the mayor’s office still plans to propose legislation to overhaul how Seattle regulates medical marijuana in January that creates standards for testing, packaging and advertising. It would allow the city to inspect businesses, levy fines and shut businesses down that don’t comply.

December 10, 2014 at 2:54 PM

City Council committee hearing on medical-marijuana regulation

The Seattle City Council is holding a Finance and Culture Committee hearing today and will be discussing medical-marijuana regulations. Watch here. The medical pot section of the hearing should kick off around 3:25 p.m.

David Mendoza, who advises Mayor Ed Murray on marijuana issues, will be presenting to council members. Here's the document that corresponds with Mendoza's presentation.

December 10, 2014 at 5:59 AM

Prosser pot grower finally finds charities to take $14K donation

The Associated Press

PROSSER, Wash. — A marijuana grower who had trouble giving away $14,000 has finally someone to accept the donations.

Fireweed Farms owner Randy Williams made $600,000 last month in the first recreational pot auction in Washington and wanted to share some of the proceeds.

The Prosser School District said no thanks; it would send the wrong message. The Prosser branch of the Boys and Girls Club also just said no to drug money, saying it would distract from its mission.

Williams told the Yakima Herald-Republic that he finally gave $1,000 to the Prosser VFW post and $13,000 to a local needy family, which asked not to be identified.

Williams said Monday that his phone had been ringing off the hook with people who wanted the money.

December 5, 2014 at 10:11 AM

Judge: Uncle Ike's pot store can stay open until 2015 suit is heard

A  judge ruled Friday that Uncle Ike's Pot Shop can continue operation until the court hears a full lawsuit next November.

"An injunction is an extraordinary remedy … and the burden is on the plaintiff," said King County Superior Court Judge Jean Rietschel at the hearing. "I will not grant it."

Mount Calvary Christian Center is suing the recreational marijuana store because it claims the store is too close to the church's teen center. Marijuana stores are required to be more than 1,000 feet from parks, recreation centers, schools and other prohibited venues where kids are thought to hang out, but are not required to be any distance from churches.

Much of the testimony concerned how often the teen center was used. As defined by state law, a recreation center hosts a "broad range of activities."

In her ruling, Judge Reitschel noted that the activities offered by the church were closely associated with the church itself.

"At present, the teen center is opened primarily on Sundays for Kidz for Christ ministry and on Wednesday nights for youth Bible study and two Fridays a month," said the judge. "Those activities by their types and hours ... do not meet the burden of a broad range of activities."

Judge Reitschel also said the church had not proven harm to children because the pot shop was allowed to be open. "There’s no showing of a failure of security at Ike’s … no showing of any sales or attempted sales to minors. I don’t see any actual showing of injury," she said.

Ian Eisenberg, who owns Uncle Ike's, said he was pleased to be able to conduct "business as usual" and planned to have "a nice sativa with lunch."

"We'll prove we're good neighbors and do everything we can to help the church," Eisenberg said. "We've always wanted dialogue with the church."

Reverend Reggie Witherspoon of Mt. Calvary Christian Center said the ruling was disheartening but that the church's fight would continue. "It's not over. We're not going away," he said.

Witherspoon said the church would go over its options and chart a new legal strategy. Would he consider dialogue with Uncle Ike's?

"Anything is possible," said Witherspoon. "At this point, I'm feeling emotional and disheartened."

Witherspoon said that if the two sides were to talk, he would consider pushing to make sure Uncle Ike's wasn't open on Sundays.

Uncle Ike's had argued that if the store were shut down, it would lose “approximately $20,000 dollars in sales per day, and in an emerging market where market share is crucial.”

A judge denied a temporary restraining order against Uncle Ike’s on October 31. The church sought to prevent the pot store from operating ahead of a harvest festival it was holding.

In October, Eisenberg said he “did everything by the book” in establishing his store.

In November, Uncle Ike's pulled in $569,615 in revenue, according to figures provided by the Liquor Control Board.

December 3, 2014 at 2:35 PM

Mayor Murray pushes medical-marijuana regulation to next year

Mayor Ed Murray plans to propose a structure for medical marijuana regulation in January instead of this month said Jason Kelly, a spokesman for the mayor's office. Councilmember Nick Licata will hold a hearing on the framework of the regulatory license on Dec. 10, but won't be discussing specific bill language, said Kelly.

"Any city ordinance, including a regulatory license, needs to work in concert with state law. That’s an issue that’s more complicated. We need to do a little more work on that," said Kelly.

Kelly said the mayor's office is continuing to hold meetings with stakeholders. Those stakeholders include city officials, medical-marijuana industry leaders and City Council representatives.

He said the mayor's office wants to "make sure people feel like they're able to meaningfully contribute to the proposed ordinance."

The mayor last week released an outline of his plans to regulate medical-marijuana in Seattle.

The plan calls for a new city license and standards for testing, packaging and advertising. Under the proposed system, business owners would have to get criminal-background checks. The city would inspect the businesses and be able to levy fines or suspend or revoke licenses for violations.

 

 

December 2, 2014 at 10:46 PM

Tacoma to shut down medical marijuana businesses by summer

The Tacoma City Council will direct city officials to shut down medical marijuana businesses without a license this summer, according to the Tacoma News Tribune.

Like Seattle, the city has seen a rise of commercial medical marijuana operations. The News Tribune reports at least 56 unlicensed shops will be shut down.

“I’m ready to fire a shot across the bow and tell the illegal operations that it’s time to stop,” said Tacoma Councilmember Lauren Walker at the meeting, according to the News Tribune report.

Tacoma's approach to medical marijuana is radically different than Seattle's, reflecting the hazy status of medical marijuana regulation after the state Legislature failed last session to reconcile the industry with the new recreational marijuana system.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced last week he would seek to create a regulatory system for the industry separate from the state's recreational marijuana system. Murray hopes to create a special city license for large-scale medical marijuana operations that requires testing, restricts advertising and limits where these businesses can locate.

November 24, 2014 at 2:41 PM

Mayor releases plan for medical marijuana in Seattle

Update: Here's the final version of this story, as it ran in the paper.

Mayor Ed Murray's office outlined its plan for the medical-marijuana industry this afternoon. The plan calls for licensing of recreational and medical-marijuana businesses and creates regulations for medical-marijuana providers.

The mayor's plan would establish a regulatory system for medical similar to that of the state's recreational system in that it sets standards for testing, packaging and advertising. It would require criminal background checks for business owners and require businesses to allow inspections by the city.

The new system calls for two classes of collective gardens. Class 1 collective gardens would operate with dispensaries; class 2 collective gardens would not and aren't subject to many of the more restrictive requirements such as testing.

The class 1 dispensaries would have to be 500 feet from childcare centers, schools, parks, libraries, transit centers and recreation centers, but there don't appear to be limits for class 2 gardens, which would only allow 45 plants on each parcel.

Class 1 collective gardens are required to test for potency (including CBD), as well as pesticides, mold, fungus and heavy metals. Pesticides and heavy metals tests are typically more expensive than the testing the state’s Liquor Control Board requires for recreational marijuana.

The outline also calls for a separate processing license that establishes packaging requirements for edibles and adopts the state Liquor Control Board's rules for concentrates.

Although state-licensed recreational producers would also be licensed by the city, they would not have to adhere to any special requirements.

"We’re looking to transmit this to City Council sometime in December," said David Mendoza, who advises the mayor on marijuana policy. "It’s on their calendar from that point."

Mendoza said the Finance and Administration department would handle licensing marijuana businesses and be responsible for inspecting and levying fines. Fines would range from $500-$2,000. According to the outline, licenses could be suspended or revoked for "egregious violations of rules."

Mendoza said selling multiple times to a minor or person without an authorization card would qualify as an egregious violation.

Last Friday, State Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles began to promote her plan to rectify recreational and medical marijuana this Legislation session. Jason Kelly, a spokesman for the mayor, said that doesn't mean Murray is giving up on a statewide solution.

"The mayor is hopeful the legislature will act this year, but even if they act quickly there’s still a lengthy rulemaking process at the state level," said Kelly. "The mayor wants to have a local ordinance on the books here so we can eliminate the uncertainty that exists for patients and dispensaries."

The outline.

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