Blog
SHARING IS CARING
Share

Archive for the 'Political' Category

Lawsuit Against Fontana About Cannabis Cultivation

 As many already know, the voters in the state of California decided to legalize recreational marijuana last November. While it didn’t necessarily immediately make the buying and selling of recreational cannabis legal – that won’t happen until January 2018 – it did start a long road to determining all kinds of regulations. Things like who can grow and sell cannabis and quality control issues.

One thing that is known is that Proposition 64 allows anyone over the age of 21 to cultivate up to six plants for personal use. While this is the indication, there is one caveat: local jurisdictions can handle how those citizens go about their growing, including what kind of permits are needed and regulations they may face. The only thing that the state says is that no local jurisdiction can outright prohibit the growing of plants.

Who Voted for Recreational Marijuana Legalization in California?

 

Not every county and jurisdiction in California wanted the state to legalize recreational marijuana. Unlike the alcohol and modern day vapor pens, there are still a lot of misconceptions about camarijuana and the society views the herb as something negative.  In California Legalization did only pass with just 53% of the vote, a scant margin in some eyes. While some counties are remaining hands off and not meddling in the ability of persons to grow, others are enacting regulations to keep it in check.

No jurisdiction has been so strict as the city of Fontana.

In fact, their ordinances are so restrictive that the Drug Policy Alliance and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the city. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of 61-year-old Mike Harris who would like to cultivate a few plants but has found the city permit processes too restrictive.

MJ Cultivation Permit Restrictions

cult permit

Just how restrictive is the process for getting a permit to cultivate just enough marijuana plants for personal use in Fontana? Fontana Ordinance 1758

  • A permit application will cost more than $400
  • Residents wishing to cultivate must submit themselves to a background check
  • Resident must submit to a Live Scan fingerprinting at their own expense
  • Residents must go on record as violating federal marijuana laws
  • Resident must agree to having their homes inspected by the city
  • Resident must not have any felony convictions related to controlled substances
  • The resident must also have no code enforcement actions with the city
  • The resident cannot owe any outstanding payments to the city
  • Written permission from the landlord to cultivate is needed where applicable
  • Residences to be used for cultivation must also meet a series of guidelines set forth by the city

City Manager Ken Hunt stated: “It is our intent behind this that this ordinance is not a permissive regulation, it is a restrictive regulation.”

Jesse Armendarez went further, stating “We’re going to be at the forefront of regulating what people can or cannot do.”

The lawsuit claims that these ordinances are so restrictive that they are, in effect, denying residents the rights conferred to them by Proposition 64. The lawsuit seeks to stop the enforcement of these ordinances that they deem are prohibitive to the cultivation of cannabis. Lawyers claim that some of the restrictions about the home or apartment in which the cultivation can occur – it must be a space solely dedicated to cultivation and only accessible by a single door, for example – are in themselves too restrictive.

What’s the New MJ Lawsuit About?

marijuana bush on a background of the cloudy sky at sunset

The lawsuit is asking the court not to allow Fontana to enforce its restrictive ordinances, but it is also asking the court to find that a city need not require a permit or a license before a resident can assert their rights under the AUMA.

While many jurisdictions are looking forward to the tax benefits and the prosperity that recreational marijuana may bring them, some are not as happy about the passing of Proposition 64. How the Fontana lawsuit does in court will pave the way – for good or bad – in how local jurisdictions police and regulate the cultivation, sale, and consumption of recreational cannabis.

Author

Michael is a marketing and creative content specialist at GotVape.com with a primary focus on customer satisfaction. Technology and fitness combined with healthy lifestyle obsession are his main talking points

Read More

[email protected]

Support Home Grow For Everyone in Washington State!

Below is my letter to the Senate Committee on Commerce & Labor who are having a public hearing in the Cherberg Building  tomorrow, Friday November 20, 2015 at 10:00 AM for SB 8063 which will allow all adults to grow 6 cannabis plants per home.

 

If you cannot make it to the hearing please comment on the bill HERE – 

 

The comment button is in dark green next to where is says SB 6083 – 2015-16

 

This is your chance to make a difference and help preserve medical cannabis in Washington!

 

Here’s my letter- write your own!  Find your voice!  The time is now!!

ef9eb8f7-f595-4d63-a80f-4ade8b948efa

My name is Sharon Whitson.  I’m a PTSA Member & a proud soccer mom who lives in Kirkland’s 45th District.  I’m also the General Manager of Seattle Hempfest, Washington’s oldest cannabis business going into our 25th year.   Our hemp boutique is in Seattle’s 46th District.

 

As a Washington citizen I’d like to see our recreational system evolve by allowing us the same rights & successes we see emerging in other states, like home grow & reasonable tax rates.  

cannabis

As a cancer survivor I understand the medicinal qualities of cannabis and want to assure that patients are not suffering under legalization.  That’s not what Washington voted for.  We didn’t vote to end medical cannabis which we enacted in 1998, we voted to stop sending people to jail for smoking cannabis and to begin retail sales to adults 21 and over.  We anticipated a sensible system would be enacted by our legislators, not one that hurts some of our states most vulnerable.   

Allowing everyone to grow 6 plants preserves the right to grow and assures that patients are protected from further having their rights eroded.  This is the compassionate & right thing to do.

IFWT_HempFest1

We have a huge opportunity here.  We have the world’s largest legalization region.  Oregon, Washington, & Alaska have 11 million citizens soon to be joined by California’s almost 39 million.   We have a responsibility to create a system of commerce that can eventually cross state lines & is similar to our neighbors who both allow home grow.   

 

By sequestering ourselves we’re hurting Washington brands who will not emerge as national leaders as legalization spreads throughout our nation.  Polling shows that 58% of people nationally approve of cannabis legalization.  This is a national industry in its infancy and we have a chance to be its leader.

sweetpurple_1

Besides serving medical patients supporting SB 6083 and home grows of 6 plants also is going to start a thriving hobby market for home enthusiasts.  This will help drive industry like – home grow kits, closet grow systems built for 6 plants, nutrients, lights, books, seminars, & classes, the list is endless!

 

An example of this is the beer industry & the home brewing of beer industry which exist side by side today and both flourish.   This actually gave birth to the craft beer industry which is now the fastest growing segment of the beer industry.  How exciting to be at the birth of a new industry and have the opportunity to be laying the seeds from which new business will be sown. 

 

Home grow will not hurt business, it will create more business.

 

I also want to point out that Washington made $2 million dollars in our first month of recreational sales.  Colorado did $5 million in the first week.  Oregon, our neighbor to the south did a whopping $11 million in their first week.  Oregon did 22 times the business in the first week of operations as Washington, 22 TIMES!  That is profound.  These figures show that home grow is not a threat. 

 

I thank you for your time and make myself available as a resource should you have questions or require any clarifications. 

Band, Girl on Fire, Greg Shaw-23-1925x924

Read More

[email protected]

The New Age Of Reefer Madness

Seattle-Hempfest-Blog-Marijuana

So I get this email from the 46th District Democrats, the “Demogram”.  It’s about their upcoming 2/19 meeting, How Do We Solve A Problem Like Marijuana?

As I read through the information they are sharing, my jaw is dropping, I felt teleported back to prohibitions roots when outlandish claims where levied against cannabis and led to its demise.  I can’t believe I’m reading an actual political newsletter.

Statements like –

“Medical marijuana outlets or cannabis dispensaries, as they prefer to be called, readily admit that not all their customers — as few as 25% — are diagnosed medical patients,”

So they are claiming that 75% of all medical patients are not medical patients or that 75% of all medical dispensary sales are to people without medical recommendations.  I’m also highly skeptical that any medical dispensary operators claimed to anyone that as few as 25% of their patient customers are authorized.

Seattle-Hempfest-Medical-Cannabis

the needs of legitimate medical patients are significantly different from recreational users. They prefer a clinic-like dispensary atmosphere, rather than wild decorations, some unwanted incense (allergies) and wild music.”

Wow, way to stereotype marijuana users.  While I’ve only been in a few recreational stores I know of none with wild decorations or burning incense while playing wild music. What is wild music anyway?  I prefer Metallica myself.

Seattle-Hempfest-RocknRoll

“Doctors are forbidden to give advice, for fear of losing their medical licenses.”

Simply not true.  My Doctor at Swedish Cancer Care Institute wrote my medical recommendation when I was undergoing chemo & radiation.  I talked to my entire medical team about my medical cannabis use.  I was actually not on 4 of their recommended anti-nausea medications due to my medical cannabis use.  I readily did not use their anti-anxiety medication due to my medical cannabis use and I talked to them about it throughout all my treatment.  I talked to my Pharmacists about it too.   My entire medical team, to this days knows about my medical cannabis use.

Sure, the Federal boogie man is real but Doctors write medical recommendations and talk to their patients about their medical cannabis use.  How else have people gotten recommendations throughout time!  Again, they are making it seem like Doctors cannot be the ones writing recommendations when they are!

Seattle-Hempfest-Blog-Cannabis-vs-pharma

Of course for obvious reasons we became curious as to where they obtained this data from.  I issued them a formal Freedom of Information Act Request. Vivian took a more straight forward route and emailed the Chair and asked where their data came from.

Their response was swift and concerning.

“It’s from (name removed) who is currently handling our program scheduling for the meetings. I don’t have specifics but it came from talking to cannabis dispensary owners and going to forums like this one. Though there doesn’t seem to be a lot of hard data there. You should come to the forum and help contribute to the discussion. There are a lot of different opinions around there. And with 90 bills in the legislature we need more input.

The idea that the 46th District Democrats are presenting that kind of information in a public document is alarming.  Especially when they “readily admit” the information is not culled from hard data.

I have a huge problem with this.  Not just in regards to cannabis either.  You cannot trust a damn thing that comes out of the mouths of politicians or that they put in writing and this is an exemplary example of that.

The 25% accusation is actually damaging, and that statement marginalizes and minimizes the struggle that legitimate patients endure daily, especially in the face of memes that are presented like this that characterize the patient community (and their doctors) as phonies and charlatans.

Seattle-Hempfest-Blog-Democrat-Republican

I do plan on going to their meeting and talking about accountability, integrity of data, and loss of trust.  I also plan on being a great example of a citizen who uses medical cannabis and can work within the power structure to help them make good decisions.  It’s our responsibility and it’s time we stand up and help usher in legalization.  I’m wondering if any of you would like to go with me?

Seattle-Hempfest-United-States-Of-Cannabis

Thursday February 19, 2015 7:30 PM

Olympic View Elementary School

504 NE 95th St
Seattle, WA 98115
Sign in starts at 7:00 PM

I hope to see you there!

Sharon

Read More

[email protected]

Links To Washington’s Cannabis Bills

We spent an awesome day in Olympia yesterday registering attendees to the ASA Medical Cannabis Lobby Day.

Unlike last year, I found legislators eager to hear what I thought of the two major competing medical bills, SB 5052 & SB 5519. Today HB 1698 was introduced which throws a third medical dispensary model in the ring.

Our Legislature is ready to tackle this issue – whether we are or not!

lobby SB 5052 hearing olympia washington medical vs recreational marijuana

Let me walk you through how to interact with the States website as I’ve given you links to each bill below.

SB means Senate Bill.  SB’s are originated by our Senators.  We each have one Senator.

HB means House Bill.  HB’s are originated by our Representatives.  We each have two Representatives.

We’re going to use SB 5121 as our example.  SB 5121 is about establishing a marijuana research license so that cannabis researchers can grow the cannabis they are doing studies on.

Here’s an image of the screen you’ll see when you hit the link.

Screen Example

“History of the Bill” tells you who the sponsors are and hyperlinks you to their page.  It also shows you what has happened to the bill on what date and hyperlinks you to more information about these events.

I always read the “Original Bills” under available documents vs the “Bill Digest” as I want to see everything they are saying but the “Bill Digest” gives you a very short description to help wade through the list.

The button I want to point out most is the “Comment on this bill” button.  It’s under the big yellow box near the bills Name “SB 5121 – 2015-16” This button takes you to a screen that allows you to comment on the bill.  The comments go to your Districts Senator & Representatives as well as the Bill’s Sponsors and any Committee Members who are reviewing the bill.

The most effective way to communicate with them is in their language.  For example, If I don’t like the wording in Section  1, item A, state what you don’t like and how you would change it.

Don’t be emotional.  Be factual and tell them specifically what you would change by section.

Now let me introduce you to some of the other legislation working its way through Olympia.

First are the three that deal with how medical cannabis is dispensed and what to do with our medical cannabis industry.

SB 5519, would allow dispensaries a path to I502 compliance, allow everyone to grow 6 plants

HB 1698 creates dispensary system, allows home grows

SB 5052 creates a separate medical system but does not allow for dried cannabis sales, does allow medical grow

Next are a variety of Bills for both medical & recreational cannabis.

hb 1020 ric smith memorial act seattle hempfest

HB 1520 requires a finding of guilt prior to the  forfeiture of private property

SB 5051 & 5572 clarifying transportation and delivery services for marijuana producers, processors & retailers.

SB 5379 Adds PTSD to the qualifying conditions

HB 1020 makes a  qualifying patient’s medical use of cannabis may not be a sole disqualifying factor in determining the patient’s suitability for an organ transplant among other things.

HB 1041 & SB 5461 Providing for the vacation of misdemeanor marijuana offense convictions

HB 1165 Sharing cannabis taxes with local jurisdictions

HB 1334 & SB 5003 Concerning the taxes payable on rec marijuana

HB 1335 & SB 5417 Permitting cities to reduce the buffer zone

HB 1359 & SB 5402 Addresses marijuana violations of persons between 18 – 21

HB 1360 & SB 5398 Concerning marijuana use in public

HB 1361 & SB 5401 Allowing the Washington state liquor control board to accept donations for funding informational material for the purpose of improving public awareness about marijuana consumption.

HB 1411 Concerning the siting of marijuana facilities

HB 1412 Concerning municipalities prohibiting the operation of recreational marijuana production, processing, & retail facilities

HB1413 Revising licensing regulations pertaining to the buffer distances required between recreational marijuana businesses and specified public and private facilities.

HB 1414 Exempting marijuana producers from taxation for sales to other producers of marijuana seeds and cloned marijuana plants.

HB 1418 Providing for the enforcement of illegal marijuana production.

HB 1438 Permitting cities, towns, and counties to prohibit the production, processing, and sale of marijuana under Initiative Measure No. 502 only by public vote.

HB 1461 – Very vague, only says relating to marijuana

HB 1650 Clarifying provisions regarding the seizure and disposition of marijuana and processed marijuana products by state and local law enforcement agencies.

HB 1673 & SB 5245 Concerning substance abuse prevention and treatment programs funded by the marijuana excise tax.

SB 5002 Concerning traffic infractions for marijuana, marijuana-based substances, or marijuana-infused substances.

HB 5051 Clarifying transportation and delivery services

SB 5130 Restricting marijuana producer and processor businesses from being located in certain residential and rural areas.

SB 5450 Adding churches and licensed chemical dependency programs in the buffer distance requirements of recreational marijuana businesses.

SB 5467 Providing a single point of excise taxation on sales of recreational marijuana.

SB 5493 Distinguishing cannabis health and beauty aids from marijuana.

What a long list right?

Imagine being a legislator trying to make the right decision.  That’s why concise comments that speak directly to the bills language work best when communicating.

I am going to try to find someone to help me track each of these lovely bills so we can keep everyone informed where these go!

You can make a list of Bills you’d like to track HERE

You can read more about contacting your legislators in both Washingtons HERE

I gotta go do some reading!

Choi’

washington capitol

Read More

[email protected]

Don’t Drink the Blame it on Medical Marijuana Kool-Aid.

My name is Sharon Whitson and I’m the General Manager of Seattle Event’s A Non Profit Corporation, the producers of Seattle Hempfest, Hempfest Business, & Hempfest Central.

Let’s talk about why I502 is faltering and instead of drinking the blame it on medical marijuana kool-aid we’re going to evaluate some facts.

First a history lesson.  Medical cannabis was legalized by the voters via I-692 in 1998, 14 years before recreational cannabis.  Medical cannabis began being a legitimate industry at this time.  Our legislators where just too afraid to touch it via enacting regulation so they allowed the citizen’s initiative to be enacted but treated it like a green haired step child sitting in a corner that they didn’t want to see.

Mean while, the medical cannabis industry blossomed, with some jurisdictions, like Seattle supporting it, and others banning it.  Despite Federal raids on people like the Kettle Falls 5, the industry persevered.  Knowing they needed to be regulated and tired of being ignored by the state in 2011 the medical industry worked with both the Washington State House & Senate and passed SB 5073 that would regulate the medical cannabis industry.

Chris Gregoire, who was then Governor, afraid of the Federal boogie man, vetoed much of 5073 and instead of regulating the medical cannabis industry instead made it even more of an unanswered industry.

In 2012 the people over whelming voted to add recreational cannabis use to our legalization system along side medical cannabis.  The voters did not vote to abolish medical marijuana.  They voted to stop sending people to prison for a plant and to create a new system for recreational sales.

Right now 40% of Washington State Cities have enacted an I502 moratorium.  This means they will not allow I502 to be implemented in their cities.   Now I’m all for jurisdictions being able to enact their own rules but this also means the states needs to reduce its financial projections for I502 revenue by 40% – as only a maximum of 60% is achievable since 40% of the stores cannot even open.

This also means that under an I502 system, 40% of the states medical cannabis needs will not be met if medical is put under I502.

There are 330 possible I502 retail store licenses and we have 86 retail stores open.  That’s only 26% and they opened at varying points throughout the entire year.  This means that we should have expected less than 26% of the projected revenues thus far.

The high tax rates are helping keep the black market alive.   The way to compete is to be economically competitive.  That’s simple business 101.  If your product is 3X the price of someone selling a similar product, your sales are going to be limited.

Medical Marijuana is not the black market.  According to the Washington Department of Revenue’s report to the Coalition for Cannabis Standards & Ethics, medical marijuana dispensaries contributed $832,000 in sales taxes in October of 2014 alone.

Medical Marijuana businesses, like all others, have Washington & City business licenses and pay Washington B&O as well as City taxes.  Those figures are not included in the $832,000 one month total.

They hire employees.  They pay employment taxes and their employees pay taxes.   They rent buildings, they buy some too!  Running a business is expensive.  The medical marijuana industry has been contributing to the communities and coffers of Washington State for over a decade.

Colorado is flourishing as it started it’s recreational market from its existing medical market.  Instead of taking this common sense approach, Olympia decided to give it to the Liquor Control Board – who the people had recently voted out of controlling liquor sales – to recreate the wheel.  To compound it, they create a blind lottery vs a merit based application acceptance system.  This means that anyone who could complete the application and pay $250 could be chosen to participate in I502 even if they didn’t have the money or business plan it require to operate.  This is why you only have 26% of the retail stores open.  If we’d of had a merit based system you could bank on us being at our 60% maximum rate – remember it’s only 60% due to the moratoriums.

Why not create a path for I502 producer/processors to sell into the medical market?

Why would you turn to the newly created Recreational system for advice on Medical Marijuana – oh yeah, your protecting financial interests instead of the interests of the sick.  Why else wouldn’t you turn to an organization like the Coalition for Cannabis Standards & Ethics or the Washington Cannabis Commission to gain insight since?  Expertise in medical cannabis is being ignored like it doesn’t even exist and hasn’t been here all along!

Astronomical tax rates, moratoriums, & a non-merit based selection process are what’s plaguing I502 forecasts, not medical marijuana.

Please don’t drink the blame it on medical marijuana kook-aid.  Instead let’s work with our legislature to strengthen I502 and create separate regulation of our already vibrant medical industry.

You can read more about contacting your legislators in both Washingtons here

washington capitol

Read More

[email protected]

End Federal Scheduling

Let’s End Cannabis Prohibition Now!!!

How can we end Federal Prohibition? 

We’ve taken the first steps here in Washington State by passing I-502 and starting the legalization process.  We’re at an in-between spot right now.  A place where the Federal Government looms over our burgeoning cannabis movement and leaves us unclear as to whether it will fall and decapitate legalization or continue to bide it’s time and watch how the legalization process plays out in the States before it acts.

Cannabis is a Federal Schedule I Narcotic.  What does this mean excatly?

According to the US Department of Justice’s own website:

“Schedule I Controlled Substances

Substances in this schedule have no currently accepted medical use in the United States, a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision, and a high potential for abuse. Some examples of substances listed in Schedule I are: heroin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), marijuana (cannabis), peyote, methaqualone, and 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (‘Ecstasy’).”

If cannabis has “no currently accepted medical use” then why has the US Federal Government has taken out US Patent #6630507, which states in its abstract:

“Cannabinoids have been found to have antioxidant properties … This new found property makes cannabinoids useful in the treatment and prophylaxis of wide variety of oxidation associated diseases, such as ischemic, age-related, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. The cannabinoids are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following … stroke and trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and HIV dementia…”

So as you can see, our Government has no problem turning a blind eye to the truth.  Even when the truth is so blatantly obvious to everyone else.

But what are we to do about it?  What power do we have?

We have the power of our vote! Let’s end Federal Cannabis Prohibition and the Scheduling of Cannabis here in the USA.

Here’s how you can help!

Visit congress.gov, get your elected representatives’ contact info, then:

Send your representatives an email, call and leave detailed messages with their staff or on their office’s voicemail, send them a hand-written letter via the Postal Service.  Follow your representatives on Twitter and Facebook.  Tweet to them and about them.   Send messages to them on Facebook and their other social networking accounts.  Post open letters to them on not only on their campaign and official pages but on their personal accounts as well.

Let them know that by the Government’s own admission, Cannabis has medicinal values and that you’d like the Federal Scheduling of Cannabis to be lifted. 

The will of the citizens of Washington and Colorado to legalize cannabis has been made clear by their vote.  Tell them to respect the will of the people by formally declaring that they will allow the States to implement systems of legalization without Federal interference. 

Let them know that you’re tired of hearing about Federal letters being sent to medicinal cannabis providers. 

It’s time to spend our tax dollars in ways that benefit society instead of policies and programs shown to be decidedly against both the will and the interests of the people.

Make sure your representatives understand that you won’t vote for them again and that you’ll encourage everyone you can to follow suit unless they start honestly dealing with cannabis as an issue.

We can do this!  We have started to create real legalization but we won’t really have it until we end the Federal Scheduling of Cannabis. 

Join us and let’s tilt the scales of justice in cannabis’ direction.  Be polite, engage in conversation, share your knowledge with everyone around you, get others involved, and remember to write your representatives frequently and ask them what they are doing about correcting the Federal Scheduling of Cannabis.  

Here are some Drug War facts taken from Marijuana Policy Project and Safer.org – share these with your representative, family and friends.

  • There have been almost 9.5 million cannabis arrests in the United States since 1995, including 872,720 arrests in 2007 – more than for all violent crimes combined, and an all-time record.
  • One person is arrested for cannabis every 36 seconds. About 89% of all cannabis arrests are for possession – not manufacture or distribution
  • Cultivation of even one cannabis plant is a federal felony.  A person must serve a 5-year, mandatory minimum sentence if federally convicted of cultivating 100 cannabis plants. This is longer than the average sentences for auto theft and manslaughter!
  • Federal government figures indicate there are more than 41,000 Americans in state or federal prison on cannabis charges right now, not including those in county jails. That’s more than the number imprisoned on all charges combined in eight individual European Union countries.
  • According to estimates by Harvard University economist Jeffrey Miron, replacing cannabis prohibition with a system of taxation and regulation would save between $10-14 billion a year in reduced government spending and increased tax revenues combined.
  • Because of cannabis prohibition, America’s largest cash crop is often grown by unregulated criminals, in environmentally damaging locations such as national parks and wilderness areas. Such problems are virtually unknown with legal, regulated crops such as tobacco or wine grapes.
  • The arbitrary criminalization of tens of millions of Americans who consume cannabis results in a large scale lack of respect for the law and the entire justice system.
  • The federal government is actively blocking research into cannabis’ use as a medicine. In fact, several researchers have filed lawsuits against the federal government, charging it with obstruction for failing to act on an application for approval to grow high-potency, research-grade marijuana at a university facility in Massachusetts. The researchers who filed suit are barred from obtaining research-grade marijuana from other countries, and the poor quality of the federal government’s marijuana makes its use unfeasible; thus they are unable to conduct research into marijuana’s medical use.
  • Sufferers of cancer, glaucoma, AIDS or HIV, Crohn’s disease, hepatitis C, and multiple sclerosis have found relief by using cannabis. It is also used to treat cachexia, anorexia, and wasting syndrome; severe or chronic pain or nausea; seizure disorders (such as epilepsy); arthritis; migraines; and agitation of Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Many people die from alcohol use. Nobody dies from cannabis use. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that more than 37,000 annual U.S. deaths are attributed to alcohol use alone (this figure does not even include accidental deaths resulting as an incident of alcohol use). Interestingly, the CDC does not even have a category for deaths caused by the use of cannabis. 
  • Alcohol use damages the brain. Cannabis use does not. Despite the myths we’ve heard throughout our lives about cannabis killing brain cells, it turns out that a growing number of studies seem to indicate that cannabis actually has neuroprotective properties. This means that it works to protect brain cells from harm.
  • If you are concerned about cannabis being associated with lung cancer, you may be interested in the results of the largest case-controlled study ever conducted to investigate the respiratory effects of cannabis smoking and cigarette smoking. Released in 2006, the study, conducted by Dr. Donald Tashkin at the University of California at Los Angeles, found that cannabis smoking was not associated with an increased risk of developing lung cancer. Surprisingly, the researchers found that people who smoked cannabis actually had lower incidences of cancer compared to non-users of the drug.

Seattle Hempfest has created a new web page End Federal Schedule of Cannabis.  Visit it and share it and this blog!  Get the word out!  Let’s end Federal Prohibition!

In hemp we trust!

Sharon

Read More

Vivian McPeak

I-502 backlash?

A statewide I-502 backlash or reasonable pushback? You decide.

Marijuana. Just the mention of the word conjures up stereotypical associations: a bleary-eyed dreadlocked hippie in a tie-dye, a teenage slacker lounging on a sofa, bong in hand, or a shady drug cartel mule peddling the illicit shrubbery across a porous border crossing.

For a certain group of people, however, the word marijuana immediately floods their minds with apparitions of jewel encrusted dollar signs. The recent passage of quasi-legalization measures in Washington and Colorado have resulted in what could be characterized as a green-rush.

“Potrepreneurs” have been frothing at the mouth while contemplating the new emerging market that legal weed promises, practically exclaiming “there’s gold in them there buds!”  Many of them are already in the business, and they anticipate emerging from the harsh, cold darkness of the black market into the warm sunshine of a white market.  Time will tell how many of them get left behind.

If money actually makes the world go round there is no doubt that the globe is spinning at a greater velocity than it did just a mere few months ago, with the new prospect of legitimate commerce in a legal marijuana industry. Groups like The National Cannabis Industry Association have sprung up, eager to manufacture a new image for the nefarious vegetable.

In fact, the current condition of our stumbling economy has been a perfect storm for reform. As a full-time cannabis reform activist I have long been frustrated, demoralized even, by the stark reality that speaking of the social inequities, wholesale injustice, and routine cruel mistreatment of American citizens leaves most people unmoved.  But one mention of the potential revenue that legalization could precipitate in terms of tax dollars and retail sales evokes great interest.  Many closed minds seem to suddenly pry open when the subject of making money from a legal open cannabis market comes up. Well, to quote Malcolm X, we’ll legalize “by any means necessary.”

The reality is that in every community in America there exists a healthy black market operating around illegal pot sales. There are few drive-by shootings, and no dead bodies, which is why you rarely hear about the underground pot economy. This has been the case for many, many years. There is so much illegal pot being grown, sold, and consumed that cannabis has been designated as the number one cash crop in several states – while it is still illegal. Imagine what potential lies in a legal white-market for above the ground sales of the sticky green substance.

But with all the interest from venture capitalists and out of state investors there are very few entrepreneurs willing to dive directly into the retail marijuana business. The attorneys I have spoken with tell me that the vast majority of the start-up businesses being created as a result of I-502 are focusing on ancillary goods and services. Intimidated by several factors, including the inability to open a business account at a bank and trepidation that the federal government will intervene, investors are focusing on products such as point-of-sale systems, safes, containers, security services, and industrial strength grow-lights.

During the I-502 campaign the cannabis reform community was divided on the initiative.  There was much controversy over various components of the legislation; chiefly the limits set by the DUI provision, no home production, and a multi-pronged taxing scheme. Others opposed the initiative based upon their contention that it is written in a way as to be easily superseded by federal law. Of course, that issue may only come up if the federal government files a lawsuit in federal court to stop the implementation of I-502 in Washington.

It will be interesting to see how many of the initiative’s proponents are satisfied with the new law after it has been implemented.  It has recently been reported that under I-502’s zoning there are only a smattering of places in Seattle, for example, that a cannabis store would be allowed, chiefly in the industrial areas. The reason for this is the framers of the initiative followed federal guidelines in an attempt to stave off the ire of the feds.

Also, it is being reported that there has already been somewhat of a backlash in areas of the state other than Seattle. There are moratoriums in place and being considered in various parts of the state, and in an amazing display of compassion the cities of Tacoma and Everett have declared medical marijuana a nuisance. This is the new trend as towns and municipalities move away from the criminal courts, where there are now constitutional protections, to civil courts where they still hold the upper hand.

There is an apartment complex on Mercer Island that has banned pot smoking, but they did not stop there.  They actually tried to tell a tenant that he was not allowed to orally ingest his medical cannabis in his apartment. They have since rescinded that absurd directive. The man is a veteran, and he takes cannabis to treat symptoms of injuries he received in service to our country—ironically, “fighting for our freedom.”

There appears to be other people who think that it is a good idea to restrict the vulnerable among us from using cannabis in any form at any time.  State Representative Jan Angel, 26th District (R – Port Orchard), has introduced a bill to make it a requirement for anyone receiving assistance to pass a drug-test.  She has included marijuana, even though Washington voters have legalized its use, because it is illegal under state law.

So, Representative Angel wants to penalize anyone on public assistance who has in any way ingested an illegal substance, including medical marijuana, even though a huge portion of legal medical marijuana patients are so sick they are on assistance. Ah, compassion in action.

“We just want to make sure that on entitlement programs that we are feeding children and families and not a drug habit,” Angel said of House Bill 1190. While there may be noble intent behind the bill, there appears to be no exception for state legal medical marijuana patients, or for anyone on assistance who may be offered a toke by some generous acquaintance.  God forbid anyone on welfare gets a toke of pot. However, they will be forced to take all their prescribed pharmaceutical drugs or benefits can be cut off.

And Rep. Angel works for the citizens of Washington State, not the federal government. Why she feels it is OK to usurp the will of the voters here and sabotage access to medical marijuana for the poorest of us is curious. Does she also plan to test welfare recipients for alcohol and tobacco? Of course not. There is no justice in the War on Drugs.

This is the trend. Some criminal defense attorneys in this state are indicating that multiple jurisdictions appear to be preparing to go after medical marijuana with a vengeance. They predict that these towns and cities appear to be preparing to interpret I-502 as decreeing that only state licensed marijuana grow operations are legal. That means that medical marijuana patients and collectives will be left out in the cold. The same legal beagles think that medical marijuana dispensaries will be treated in an identical manner, despite the fact that a different majority of voters implemented medical marijuana into state law in 1998.

Some areas are already ignoring the community garden directive (Washington RCW 69.51A.085) which allows legal patients to employ community grow operations and distribute medical marijuana throughout their collective. The other way that communities could dance around I-502 implementation is by using zoning laws. They would just zone marijuana stores into oblivion. And it is not just the rural counties. New zoning restrictions are reportedly being created for Seattle as well.

Since nobody has ever dismantled marijuana prohibition before, it is hard to make a general assessment about the effectiveness and practicality of I-502. The jury is still out on the initiative’s impacts. Clearly, an international media grassfire has been ignited by the two states legalizing possession and an unprecedented momentum has energized the national discussion about reform. What remains to be seen is what the local implications will be for the voters who passed the two citizen initiatives and how satisfied they will be with the final result.

– Vivian McPeak, from Seattle PI blog post.

Read More