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A saga involving a Pacific Northwest hemp fashion company in search of a bank has been resolved, but points to the murky legal landscape facing some cannabis-related businesses.

After two rescinded business accounts and a bank's change of heart, hemp clothing and accessories retailer Rawganique is back where it started.

This story has been updated.

Since recreational marijuana became legal in Washington state and Oregon, the booming industry has been having having trouble accessing the banking system. And now a hemp fashion retailer in Blaine, Washington, is having the same problem.

Oregon farmers planted the state’s first legal crops of industrial hemp a couple of years ago. Now the first Washington state farmer to plant the non-drug cousin of marijuana has harvested the crop. 


Hemp entrepreneur Cory Sharp is fairly happy with Washington’s first legal crop in almost 90 years. His farmer partners harvested 105 acres earlier this month from irrigated fields near Moses Lake. 


But the celebration is tempered because the crop is unsold.


Washington’s cannabis is a bit more potent than the national average. And the state’s teens are more likely to smoke marijuana than young people nationwide.

Although we have the same problems with marijuana as we do with liquor abuse, no blockbuster conclusions came from a recent report on Washington’s marijuana universe.

Washington is the only state with legal marijuana that doesn’t allow home grows. There have been unsuccessful efforts to change that in recent years. Now the state’s Liquor and Cannabis Board is taking public comment on the issue through October 11.

Washington’s state Department of Health will remove a billboard deemed offensive after public backlash. The billboard in question was an initiative from the Department’s Marijuana Prevention & Education Program.

Employees at Ike's Pot Shop in Seattle's Central District sell marijuana products on their opening day, Sept. 30, 2014.
KUOW Photo/Posey Gruener

Bill Radke speaks with Emily Parkhurst, editor in chief of the Puget Sound Business Journal, about some of the reasons cannabis retail shops in Washington are having a hard time making a profit

Now that it's legal in Washington state, a handful of farmers and the Colville tribe have submitted applications to grow industrial hemp. On Tuesday, Moses Lake will be the scene of a "first planting" demonstration of the non-drug cousin of marijuana.

KUOW PHOTO/BOND HUBERMAN

Weed is legal, but we're still figuring out how to talk about it around kids. State lawmakers do know this much: A billboard with a cat saying "IM SO HIGH RIGHT MEOW" goes too far.

Bertha has finally finished boring through the muck underneath downtown Seattle. Now comes the hard part: deciding how much drivers should have to pay to drive through a new tunnel.

The governors of Oregon, Washington, Colorado and Alaska have written a joint letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin asking for forbearance with their marijuana policy experiments.

Mitch, a worker for a marijuana farm in Skagit Valley in 2013. The farm doesn’t exist anymore.
Daniel Berman

We followed the money trail from one bag of weed. 

week in review mcginn balter mckenna radke
KUOW Photo/Bond Huberman

Is it a big deal for a member of Congress to skip a town hall with angry voters? Will the Trump Administration go after Washington state's legal marijuana business? Should Seattle tax soda and other sugary drinks? And is America's national pasttime too slow and boring?

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said he’s “deeply disappointed” by comments President Trump’s spokesman made Thursday about legalized marijuana.

You won’t have to worry about unclear labels on any pot-infused sweets in Washington state after Valentine’s Day. A rule to help keep children from getting more than just a sugar high goes into full effect Tuesday.

Susan Gress says Sessions as AG is just the latest uncertainty for her business. Susan Gress says Jeff Sessions as attorney general is just the latest uncertainty for her business.
KUOW Photo/Amy Radil

For years, John Davis has helped produce Seattle Hempfest, a sprawling outdoor celebration of all things marijuana. 

So far, more than half of all U.S. states have legalized marijuana for medical use, and eight (plus the District of Columbia) have legalized the drug for recreational use. Varieties of cannabis available today are more potent than ever and come in many forms, including oils and leaves that can be vaped, and lots of edibles, from brownies and cookies to candies — even cannabis gummy bears.

Senator Jeff Sessions.
FLICKR PHOTO/Gage Skidmore (CC by SA 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/av61Fy

Bill Radke speaks with Puget Sound Business Journal digital editor Greg Lamm about the impact Jeff Sessions could have on Washington's marijuana and tech industries if he is confirmed as the U.S. attorney general.

Marijuana growers use a lot of pesticides — especially when these mildew- and mite-sensitive plants are grown indoors.

But a growing number of farmers and shops are trying to give their customers a satisfying cannabis high without the downer of pesticide-related environmental or health risks.

Johnny Vanella is among them. At the JV Ranch outside Goldendale, Washington, he harvested his first organically grown cannabis crop this fall.

After the results of the November election, more than half of U.S. states have now authorized medical marijuana. And eight of those states also allow recreational marijuana. So if pot helps some humans feel better, how about people's best friends?

After Oregon voters approved recreational marijuana use for adults in 2014, there was no place to legally buy it until October of the following year. That's when a law kicked in that allowed dispensaries to sell to people without medical marijuana cards.

With more states legalizing recreational marijuana, parents are facing the question of whether they should smoke pot around their children.

"I have never smoked and would never smoke around my child," says one mother who lives in San Francisco. California is one of eight states that allows recreational marijuana use for adults 21 and older.

When Donald Trump offered Sen. Jeff Sessions the position of attorney general, the pick drew criticism from civil rights groups and immigrant advocates. In the fast-growing, multibillion-dollar marijuana industry, it is also raising fears.

In California, the city of Oakland was the first to regulate and tax medical marijuana dispensaries. Now, some city leaders see the industry's profits and are proposing to take a bigger piece of the action. The Oakland City Council is voting later this month on a pot profit-taking plan.

Harborside Health Center in Oakland is the largest medical marijuana dispensary in the nation.

Its executive director, Steve DeAngelo, says his dispensary brings in about $30 million in annual revenues.

Experts at the Oregon Poison Center are warning parents to be on the lookout for marijuana edibles in their kids’ Halloween candy.

There haven’t been any reports in Oregon of people slipping edibles into kids' candy, but toxicologist Robert Hendrickson, worries it could happen accidentally.

“This is a time of year when there’s lots of candy around the house because they’re going to go out into bowls to be handed out. And there are kids coming home with candies," he said.

Marijuana retailers began collecting a 25 percent tax on recreational marijuana sales starting in January. That money is adding up quickly.

America has a long and storied history with marijuana. Once grown by American colonists to make hemp rope, by 1970, it was classified as a Schedule 1 narcotic. Possession of it was — and is — a federal crime, despite the fact that in recent years 25 states have legalized medical marijuana and four states and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for recreational use.

Republican Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington's 5th Congressional District debated her Democratic challenger Joe Pakootas at Washington State University Wednesday night.

Five states are voting this fall on whether marijuana should be legal, like alcohol, for recreational use. That has sparked questions about what we know — and don't know — about marijuana's effect on the brain.

Matt Carlucci, president of the Center for Palliative Care in Seattle, says legal pot in California could mean fewer people sent to jail.
KUOW Photo/Lisa Willmer

One vote in November isn’t on the ballot in Washington but could have ripple effects here. It’s the initiative to legalize marijuana in California.

Matt Carlucci is president of the Center for Palliative Care in Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood. His former medical marijuana business is empty now, awaiting a state license to become a marijuana producer and processor.

This story starts with a stay-at-home-mom from the Denver suburbs.

Her name is Abby McLean. She's 30 and lives in Northglenn, Colo. She was driving home from a late dinner with a friend two years ago when she came upon a DUI roadside checkpoint.

"I hadn't drank or smoked anything, so I was like, 'Let's go through the checkpoint,' " she recalls.

McLean is a regular marijuana user but she insists she never drives while high.

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