Posts Tagged ‘legislation’

Washing Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Confused…

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Graphic: Sodahead

​​Changes to Washington state’s medical marijuana laws kick in today, Friday, July 22. But cities, counties, providers and patients are still trying to make sense of the new guidelines, a patchwork of confusing and often contradictory rules left by Governor Christine Gregoire’s hen-hearted line-item veto of legislation which would have regulated the shops.

The dispensaries have popped up all over the state in the past couple years, reports Liz Jones at KUOW. But the changes in Washington’s medical marijuana law make dispensaries illegal, while authorizing “collective gardens” of up to 45 plants for up to 10 patients.

“You know, I’m getting phone calls constantly from people saying, what do I do, what do I do, what I do?” said Philip Dawdy, who worked with the Washington Cannabis Association during the past legislative session. He helped push for legislation that would have created a statewide system to regulate medical marijuana.
Gov. Gregoire’s partial veto of the bill has created a gigantic mess, according to Dawdy and practically every other person who is familiar with the issue. Cities and counties are interpreting the law differently, with some taking a lenient approach while others are banning the gardens.
“It’s going to depend on what jurisdiction you’re in, and what county you’re in, and what attitude your county prosecutor has,” Dawdy said. “We may have 39 different versions of this for each county. It’s frustrating. It’s very frustrating.”
Kent, Shoreline and Everett are among the cities that have already put a moratorium on the collective gardens.
Meanwhile, the Seattle City Council this week approved a measure to allow and regulate dispensaries and collective gardens, clarifying the city’s approach.
“All we’ve tried to say is that as long as you’re in compliance with all city licensing and code requirements, we’re not going to bother you,” said Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes.
Holmes said his talks with federal prosecutors lead him to believe patients will be safe if they’re seriously ill, have a medical authorization and grow their own small amounts. However, he’ll have to forgive some members of the patient community if they don’t feel particularly reassured learning that law enforcement, not medical personnel, will be deciding who is “seriously ill.”
Part of the change from dispensaries to collective gardens means providers will now need to track where the cannabis is grow and the patients who get it.
Liz Jones of KUOW asked Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna’s office for clarification on the state’s medical marijuana laws — but a spokesman responded that his office “is not involved in this issue.”
That’s what we’re facing in Washington, folks. Thanks to our hen-hearted Governor, we have a confusing and unclear medical marijuana law (which will result in lots of needless arrests), and meanwhile our spineless attorney general — who is supposed to be the top law enforcement officer in the state — doesn’t have the balls to even address the issue.

Seattle Committee Passes Bill to License Cannabis Dispensaries

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Photo: Steve Elliott ~alapoet~

​A Seattle City Council panel on Wednesday unanimously passed a measure licensing and regulating medical marijuana dispensaries in the city.

The ordinance now moves to the full City Council for consideration on Monday, July 18, reports Chris Grygiel at the Seattle P.I. But prior to the vote by the Housing, Human Services, Health and Culture Committee, one attorney told the council members that the ordinance won’t stand up in court.
“I want to applaud the City Council for taking a look at this matter … unfortunately I must urge you to reconsider your proposal,” said activist/attorney Douglas Hiatt, who said he represents medical marijuana patients. “Go back to the drawing board. I do not believe there is any way you can pass your ordinance will stand under the law. The state’s controlled substances act pre-empts the field … Marijuana is still illegal … It’s illegal for all purposes, you cannot regulate an illegal business without a specific authority.”

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Photo: Douglas Hiatt
Attorney Douglas Hiatt: “If you pass this, I will take you to court and do my very best to knock it out”
​ When Gov. Chris Gregoire line-item vetoed a bill earlier this year which would have allowed medical marijuana dispensaries statewide, she nixed language that would have allowed the Council to pass its own regulations, according to Hiatt.
“If you pass this, I will take you to court and do my very best to knock it out,” Hiatt told the Council.
Earlier this year, the Washington Legislature passed a medical marijuana bill, but Gregoire vetoed most of it, claiming she was worried the law would put state workers at risk of federal prosecution, even though that’s never happened in any medical marijuana state.
Washington has allowed patients with qualifying conditions to use medical marijuana since voters approved it in 1998, but the federal government doesn’t recognize any medicinal use for cannabis. The bill that passed in the Legislature was intended to set clearer regulations on dispensaries, establish a licensing system, and institute a patient registry with arrest protection.
Gregoire vetoed provisions which would have licensed and regulated marijuana dispensaries. She also vetoed the provision which would have created a patient registry under the Department of Health.
Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, along with the city attorney and King County’s executive and prosecutor had all supported establishing a legal framework for medical marijuana.
The ordinance before the Seattle City Council, sponsored by Councilman Nick Licata, would require medical marijuana dispensaries to get business licenses, pay taxes and fees and meet city land use codes. The shops would also be subject to the city’s Chronic Nuisance Property Law, which means if there were repeated complaints about their activity, they could be fined or shut down.
The “open use and display of cannabis” would be prohibited at the dispensaries.
Not all people testifying before the Council on Wednesday thought the effort was in vain. A University District resident urged the Council to come up with zoning rules so that neighborhoods like his aren’t “overrun” with dispensaries.
To read medical marijuana documents presented to the Council, click here and here.

50th Anniversary Of Treaty Outlawing Cannabis Worldwide


Today, March 30, 2011, marks an unhappy birthday. Fifty years ago, marijuana became illegal worldwide.

The Single Convention Treaty on Narcotic Drugs, which started the international policy of cannabis prohibition, was signed on this day in 1961. In accordance with the treaty, marijuana is still illegal in every country on Earth — including the Netherlands, where laws remain on the books despite official policy “tolerating” its use.

The Single Convention Treaty was the handiwork of the powerful ex-director of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, Harry Anslinger, architect of the first federal cannabis prohibition law, the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act.

“Anslinger had pushed for a treaty against cannabis in order to shore up the act’s dubious constitutionality under U.S. law,” said Dale Gieringer, director of California NORML. (The act was later declared unconstitutional for other reasons, only to be supplanted by the Controlled Substances Act in 1970, which kicked off Nixon’s War On Drugs.)

“Today, the international treaty stands as the principal cause of prohibition-related crime and violence worldwide with drug wars from Mexico to Afghanistan plus the criminalization of millions of users,” Gieringer said.

Photo: Natl NORML/flickr
Dale Gierienger, Cal NORML: “A century of experience shows conclusively that cannabis prohibition has failed”
Next month marks another ignoble anniversary in the War On Drugs: the centennial of the first state anti-cannabis law.

On April 29, 1911, Massachusetts enacted a law making it illegal to sell or possess cannabis “or other narcotics” without a prescription. “Ironically, there is no record of any public concern about cannabis at the time,” Gieringer said. “Marijuana,” the Mexican slang word which became the modern name for cannabis rolled into cigarettes, was still virtually unknown.

“The Massachusetts law was the work of Progressive Era pharmacy regulators, who were chiefly concerned about other habit-forming drugs like opium and cocaine, but included cannabis for the sake of completeness,” Gieringer said. “Ironically, only after the law was passed did recreational marijuana use become popular.”

It is noteworthy that the Massachusetts law expressly allowed for prescription use, as cannabis was still generally recognized as a pharmaceutical drug. Only in 1937 was medical use of cannabis suppressed at Anslinger’s insistence, a baseless and failed federal policy that unaccountably remains in place today.

With a wave of hysteria only encouraged by anti-immigrant fears of Mexican laborers, other states quickly adopted anti-cannabis laws of their own. California, Maine, Indiana and Wyoming all instituted statewide marijuana prohibition in 1913.

As in Massachusetts, these laws were passed not in response to any public concern about cannabis, but at the instigation of government officials with an interest in drug regulation.

“Today, it is these same government bureaucrats and drug cops who remain the strongest supporters of the failed prohibitionist policies that keep them employed,” Gieringer said. “A century of experience shows conclusively that cannabis prohibition has failed.”

In the 50 years since the Single Convention Treaty was signed, marijuana use has exploded. Cannabis is now the world’s second most popular psychoactive drug after alcohol, with more than 100 million users.

One hundred years after the first anti-cannabis law, a popular rebellion against prohibition has begun, with repeal bills being proposed in Massachusetts, California, Washington, and Colorado.

“As in the Arab nations, out-of-touch government officials can be expected to remain the chief source of resistance to political reform in 2011 and beyond,” Gieringer said.


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