Posts Tagged ‘washington news’

Seattle Set To License And Regulate Medical Marijuana Co-Operatives

Trippy Seattle Skyline

The Seattle City Council is set to regulate and issue business licenses for medical cannabis facilities, according to

The Seattle City Council will consider whether to require that medical-marijuana operations get a city business license and comply with city land-use, fire-safety and other rules. The Housing, Human Services, Health, and Culture committee  is scheduled to take up the issue at a meeting on Wednesday.

Earlier this year the state Legislature passed a medical marijuana bill, but Gov. Chris Gregoire vetoed most of it. The governor said she worried the legislation put state workers at risk of federal prosecution.

It’s not clear if they’ll be known as dispensaries, co-operatives or associations of collective gardens, but maybe that just doesn’t matter since the City is taking a huge step in ensuring safe access for medical cannabis patients both in Seattle and in Washington State.

Washington State Marijuana

You can read Council’s proposed ordinance here. The first step for the ordinance is to be heard by City Council’s Housing, Human Services, Health and Culture Committee on Wednesday, July 13th at 2 p.m. at City Hall. If the committee approves the ordinance, it will then go to the full City Council for a vote soon after.

In addition to business licenses, the City would also require that facilities not be within 1,000 feet of a school and that the co-operatives—let’s use that term for now—comply with land use codes and pay taxes as assessed by the City.

Over the next several months, Seattle will consider further regulation, including possible zoning restrictions that could channel collective gardens — particularly larger-scale, multigarden operations — into commercial or industrial zones, Clark said. Staff was researching current zoning rules for gardens, farms and pharmacies to see where medical-marijuana operations would fit.


Former U.S. Attorney Sponsors Marijuana Legalization Drive

Photo: Mike Siegel/Seattle Times
Former U.S. Attorney John McKay is sponsoring a drive to
legalize marijuana for adults in Washington state.

​ Marc Emery’s Prosecutor Switches Sides; Joins ACLU, Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes, and TV Host Rick Steves in Backing Inititiave

The former U.S. Attorney for Seattle who prosecuted “Prince of Pot” Marc Emery said Tuesday that he is sponsoring an initiative to legalize and tax marijuana in Washington state. John McKay, who spent five years enforcing federal drug laws, said he hoped the measure would help “shame Congress” into ending cannabis prohibition nationwide.

McKay, who was fired by the Bush Administration in early 2007, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the laws criminalizing marijuana are destructive because they create a black market fueling international drug cartels and crime rings, reports Gene Johnson.
“That’s what drives my concern: The black market fuels the cartels, and that’s what allows them to buy the guns they use to kill people,” McKay told the AP. “A lot of Americans smoke pot and they’re willing to pay for it. I think prohibition is a dumb policy, and there are a lot of line federal prosecutors who share the view that the policy is suspect.”

rick steves nocows3.jpg
Travel host Rick Steves joints former U.S. Attorney John McKay
in backing the legalization initiative.
McKay is joined by Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes, TV travel host/writer and marijuana activist Rick Steves, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington in backing an initiative to the Legislature that would regulate the recreational use of cannabis similarly to how the state treats alcohol.
The measure would legalize marijuana for people over 21, authorize the state Liquor Control Board to regulate and tax it for sale in “standalone stores” (an important point to many cannabis consumers who don’t want to frequent liquor stores), and extend driving-under-the-influence laws to marijuana, with blood tests to determine how much of pot’s active ingredient is in a driver’s blood (a possibly troublesome point, since THC blood levels don’t always correlate with impairment, especially with experienced and medicinal users).
Activists would have until the end of 2011 to gather more than 240,000 signatures to get the initiative before the Legislature. Lawmakers could, at that point, either approve it, or allow it to go to the ballot (the more likely outcome).
According to City Attorney Holmes, taxing marijuana would bring the state at least $215 million a year.
McKay told the AP that he had long considered marijuana prohibition a failed policy, but that as U.S. Attorney his job was to enforce federal law, and he “had no problem” doing so. One of the most famous defendants McKay prosecuted was Marc Emery, who fought extradition to the United States after his 2005 arrest, but ended up getting five years in federal prison for selling marijuana seeds to U.S. residents.
“This bill might not be perfect, but it’s a good step forward,” McKay said. “I think it will eventually shame Congress into action.”
Another legalization initiative, I-1149, is still gathering signatures in hopes of making the ballot this November, but some reports are that their all-volunteer effort is badly short of its signature goal.

WA Supreme Court: You Can Be Fired For Medical Cannabis

If you live in Washington state, it doesn’t even matter if medical marijuana is legal.
You can be fired for using it — even legally — even if only if your off hours.
Employers in Washington state are allowed to fire employees who fail a drug test, even if they have a valid medical marijuana authorization, the state Supreme Court ruled on Thursday.
The court ruled that TeleTech Customer Care, a Colorado-based company that handles customer service for Sprint from its facility in Bremerton, Washington, was allowed to fire a woman for failing its required drug test, even though she is a legal medical marijuana patient, reports J.B. Wogan at the Seattle Times.
The plaintiff was pulled out of her training class after just a week and fired on the spot on October 18, 2006, because she failed a pre-employment drug screen. She had a valid medical marijuana authorization from her doctor, and sued under the name Jane Roe.

The company claimed in court documents that its contract with Sprint required drug testing and makes no exception for medical marijuana.
Photo: Jenkins Family Blog
Washington Supreme Court Justice Tom Chambers is the only friend medical marijuana patients have on the state’s highest court.
​ Roe’s attorney argued that Washington state law implied employers had to accommodate medical marijuana use outside the workplace. The court disagreed in a 8-1 decision, saying the law explicitly permits employers to disallow on-site medical marijuana use, but says nothing about such use outside the workplace.
The majority opinion noted that the state Human Rights Commission, which investigates employee discrimination cases, cannot pursue claims related to medical marijuana use because it is still illegal under federal law.
The law needs to be modified to protect employees’ right to legally use medical marijuana outside of work, according to Roe’s attorney, Michael Subit.
“The court said it wasn’t clear enough, so I hope the Legislature or the voters [through the initiative process] make it clear enough that no one can mistake it in the future,” Subit said.
Justice Tom Chambers, unfortunately in this case the only clear thinker on the Court, wrote the dissenting opinion, arguing that voters intended to protect patients who were authorized to use marijuana for medicinal purposes.
He pointed out that TeleTech had a drug-screening policy that prohibited employees from using marijuana, even if it did not affect job performance. In fact, TeleTech did not even try to offer evidence that Roe’s marijuana use — to control migraines — impaired her ability to work.
So what we’re left with is some misguided policy of making enormous moral judgments about medical marijuana patients overruling rationality.
Justice Chambers rightly pointed out that the court’s decision “jeopardizes the clear policy” of the 1998 voter initiative and would discourage other people from seeking legal medical marijuana treatment for fear of getting fired.

Washington D.C. Mayor Approves Final Medical Marijuana Regulations

Today Vincent Gray – mayor of Washington D.C. – announced that he has approved the final regulations that will govern medical marijuana production and distribution in the city. The rules will be published and go into effect on April 15th, and the City Council will have thirty days to review them. From an email alert from our friends at The Marijuana Policy Project:

Once the final regulations are published, the Department of Health will begin taking applications from individuals or organizations hoping to open one of five medical marijuana dispensaries and 10 cultivation centers. These applications will be evaluated using an objective, scored system based on how well they meet the criteria set forth in the regulations, and will be reviewed by a panel that includes members of the Department of Health, Metro Police, and other agencies tasked with oversight. Seriously ill D.C. residents will also be able to begin filing their applications for medical marijuana licenses.

420times 000011937413XSmall 200x300 Washington D.C. Mayor Approves Final Medical Marijuana Regulations“It’s been a long wait, but I’m glad that the thousands of District residents who might benefit from this program can finally see a light at the end of the tunnel,” said Dan Riffle, a legislative analyst with the Marijuana Policy Project. “Now the work begins in selecting the most qualified individuals to grow and dispense marijuana, and ensuring our nation’s capital sets another example of how carefully crafted medical marijuana programs can protect seriously ill patients in a safe, responsible, and effective manner.”

Patients that would qualify for the program are looking forward to starting the application process, but are wary that the regulations do not go far enough to protect patients. Theresa Skipper, an HIV patient from the District who has used marijuana to treat her condition, said, “I’m glad the mayor is finally getting around to signing this into law. Patients like me have waited long enough for legal access to our medicine, and knowing that we won’t have to wait much longer is a huge relief to all of us. I just want to follow the rules and try to live a normal life, and this is an important step, but we need to continue working to protect the rights of patients under this system.”

In fact, patients have had to wait 12 years since voters in the city passed a medical marijuana ballot initiative. That’s an incredibly long time to make sick people suffer, especially since many states have set up working medical cannabis systems that can be cherry-picked from , or copied outright.

Things continue to move forward on multiple fronts in the realm of medical marijuana, and we must continue to push politicians all over the country to do what is right; and what is right is providing relief to sick people.

Joe Klare

%d bloggers like this: