marijuana | KUOW News and Information


Your Take On The News

Dec 7, 2012

It’s Friday — time to talk over the week’s news with Joni BalterEli Sanders and Knute Berger. Another week, another candidate for Seattle mayor as state Senator Ed Murray says he's in. Washington state ushered in history-making laws on gay marriage and marijuana. And in Washington, DC, Congress remained perched on the fiscal cliff. What stories caught your attention this week? Call us at 206.543.5869 or write to

Sean Green marijuana collective
Amy Radil

Sean Green is the owner of Pacific Northwest Medical, a medical marijuana collective in the city of Shoreline. Today he’s wearing a suit and tie, a vestige of his former career in real estate. Green says he supported Initiative 502, but he’s celebrating legalization by turning off his phones. That’s because he’s gotten so many calls from recreational users who are under the delusion that it’s now legal for Green to sell them marijuana.

Sizing Up Washington's Pot Market

Dec 6, 2012
Flickr Photo/prensa4 (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Starting today, you can light up in the privacy of your home. State law has changed regarding marijuana possession, but the business rules will have to be developed. The state Liquor Control Board has a year to figure out how to set up Washington’s marijuana market. The federal government’s tax laws will put a crimp on any Washington state entrepreneur until Congress makes a change. We talk to the Aaron Smith of the National Cannabis Industry Association about the path ahead.

Washington To Begin Its Grand Experiment With Pot

Dec 5, 2012



From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.


And I'm Melissa Block.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Pot becomes legal in Washington on Thursday. But state officials have not even begun to write the complicated rules for who can grow it, process it and sell. That year-long process begins Wednesday.

By the end of this week, adult possession of up to one ounce of usable marijuana will no longer be a crime in Washington. But Initiative 502 -- approved by voters in November -- does much more than decriminalize possession. It requires the state to license and regulate marijuana producers, processors and retailers.

On our show yesterday, we talked with John Davis, who runs a legal medical marijuana business in Washington state. He described one of the big hurdles of starting a legal marijuana business: It's really hard to get a bank account.

His story reveals not only the gray area the marijuana business still inhabits (it's still illegal under federal law), but also just how hard it is to run a small business without a bank.

Martha Koester
Amy Radil

Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes has been a longtime supporter of legalizing marijuana. But when he was elected in 2009, he said he never would have imagined that his goal would be achieved so quickly. This week Initiative 502 takes effect, or at least the part of it that allows people to possess small amounts of marijuana for recreational use.

Marijuana has been historically cast as a dangerous drug for outcasts and societal dropouts. But with the passage of I-502, marijuana is going mainstream. A Seattle web entrepreneur is building tools for the masses to bring marijuana – and its users – into the 21st century.

Washington State Patrol
AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

Officials with the Washington state Patrol say about 8 percent of the drivers they pull over turn out to be impaired by drugs. A lab test verifying marijuana in the blood is a factor in showing driver impairment, they say, but there’s never been a legal limit the way there is for alcohol. That changes with the new law allowing marijuana possession, which takes effect Thursday, Dec. 6. It contains a new limit on marijuana components in a driver’s bloodstream.

A coalition of law enforcement officers, judges, prosecutors and federal agents have signed a letter asking US Attorney general Eric Holder not to interfere with Washington and Colorado’s new legal marijuana laws.

The letter to Eric Holder was organized by the group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, otherwise known as LEAP.

The communication asks Attorney General Holder to respect the will of the people of Washington and Colorado. Both states passed laws legalizing recreational use of marijuana by roughly a 55 percent majority.

Flickr Photo/prensa4 (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Washington voters just passed an initiative legalizing marijuana that will be certified December 6.  But state Representative Roger Goodman thinks it already needs tweaking.

Plus, we talk to Muraco Kyashna-tocha, director of the Evergreen State Cannabis Trade Association. The association is expanding beyond medical marijuana now that recreational use is being legalized.

Jay Inslee
AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

Governor-elect Jay Inslee announced three members of his transition team yesterday, just as the state revenue council announced their prediction of a $900 million budget shortfall over the next two years. Inslee spoke with KUOW’s Steve Scher about his approach to closing that gap and his role in supporting the initiative that passed recreational use of marijuana.

SEATTLE, Wash. – Washington Governor-elect Jay Inslee says states are the incubators of new ideas – and that should extend to marijuana legalization. Inslee Wednesday said he’s hopeful Washington’s new recreational pot law can take effect without federal interference.

Inslee didn’t support Washington’s marijuana legalization initiative. But now that it has passed he says, “The voters have spoken.”

Inslee says he will work in a “rational and mature” way to persuade the Obama administration to allow Washington to implement the law.

What Does Adequate School Funding Look Like?

Nov 9, 2012

The Supreme Court of Washington ruled earlier this year that the state is not meeting its constitutional duty to fully fund public education. What does a well-funded school system look like? We talk with Diane Ravitch, research professor of education at New York University.

Flickr Photo/prensa4 (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Audio Pending...

Correction:  In the original story Steve Sarich was referred to as an attorney.  He is not an attorney but a medical marijuana consultant and an opponent of I-502.

Hold off on that trip to Amsterdam. It appears recreational marijuana will soon be legal for adults in Washington, at least under state law.

The mood was jubilant at the official I-502 party at the Hotel Andra in downtown Seattle. In attendance was Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes, a primary backer of the measure. He says this law change is about good government.

Dey / Flickr

Marijuana legalization and same-sex marriage are hot-button issues on the Washington ballot. Even after the measures are decided, the debate will likely continue and changes won't happen overnight.

Voters in both Oregon and Washington are considering measures this November that would legalize marijuana for recreational use. If they pass, the laws would further widen the legal gap with neighboring Idaho, where police worry about spillover.

Idaho State Police Major Kevin Hudgens just learned about the two measures to the west of his state. He says they concern him.

“Common sense tells me that I’m sure we’d see some of our residents going over to Oregon and Washington to purchase marijuana. So, we would likely see an increase in that.”

A new online Seattle startup called Leafly is targeting medical marijuana patients.  The website (and mobile apps) feature information about medical cannabis strains and dispensaries based on tens of thousands of patient-generated reviews.  Ross Reynolds talks with Leafly’s CEO Brendan Kennedy about how the site works.

Medical marijuana dispensary
AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

Should marijuana be taxed and regulated in Washington state? Initiative 502 would allow for the sale and possession of marijuana for adults over 21. If voters approve I-502, Washington state would be out front in challenging federal marijuana policy. We discuss legalizing pot with Alison Holcomb of New Approach Washington, Douglas Hiatt of Sensible Washington, former DEA administrator Peter Bensinger and former Seattle police chief Norm Stamper.

Oregon's pot law allows up to four pot plants per home.
AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

A new study by Marijuana Arrest Research Project says more than 240,000 people in Washington have been arrested for marijuana possession over the past 25 years, and that those arrested are disproportionally Black, Latino and Native American.