marijuana | KUOW News and Information


California is four years into a historic drought, and water for human use is vying with the water needs of wildlife, such as threatened salmon.

In parts of northern California, an explosive and unregulated increase in marijuana cultivation is contributing to the problem. Now, a study says the impact of pot grows on fish-bearing streams is threatening their survival.

Researchers monitoring water levels in streams in Humboldt and Mendocino Counties last summer say the water impacts of cannabis grow operations are dramatic.

Legislation to bring together Washington’s two dueling marijuana systems is moving forward. As KUOW’s Amy Radil reports, the challenge may come in deciding which medical dispensaries get to stay open.

Flickr Photo/North Cascades National Park

Ross Reynolds talks to Alexandra Gutierrez of the Alaska Public Radio Network about the Alaska State Legislature's debates over new marijuana regulation laws.

The divide between Republicans and Democrats on pot politics is narrowing, President Barack Obama said in an interview Monday.

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

Marcie Sillman talks to Roger Roffman, University of Washington professor emeritus, about new legislation that would allow researchers in Washington state to apply for a marijuana research license.

marijuana joint pot
Flickr Photo/Dann Cove (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Marcie Sillman speaks with University of Washington researcher Kevin Haggerty, who says confusion over the state's marijuana law gets in the way of important conversations about teen drug use. 

Josh Etzler, left, and colleague Jeff Stewart break for lunch in Tulalip. Etzler says marijuana retail stores could be undercut by tribes.
KUOW Photo/Amy Radil

In Les Parks’ perfect world, the Tulalip Tribes would not only legalize marijuana but fund research into its medical benefits.  

“I see Tulalip leading the country and being on this frontier for what this plant can do for mankind, basically,” said Parks, the Tulalips’ vice chairman and a longtime supporter of legalization, speaking from the tribe’s gleaming new government building, with sweeping views over Puget Sound.

Ross Reynolds speaks with North Bonneville Mayor Don Stevens about their city's pot store. It will become the  first government-owned pot store in the nation, possibly the world, when it opens on Saturday.

Legal recreational marijuana will become a reality in Oregon on July 1.

That's expected to create new market opportunities for large-scale indoor marijuana producers who rely on powerful grow lights.

“They’re energy hogs. They use an ungodly amount of electricity,” says Ashland City Administrator Dave Kanner.

Alaska's voter initiative making marijuana legal takes effect Tuesday, placing Alaska alongside Colorado and Washington as the three U.S. states where recreational marijuana is legal. The new law means people over age 21 can consume small amounts of pot — if they can find it. It's still illegal to sell marijuana.

"You can still give people marijuana, but you can't buy it — or even barter for it," Alaska Public Media's Alexandra Gutierrez reports. "So, it's a pretty legally awkward spot. That probably won't stop people from acquiring it, though."

Like many schools across Colorado, Arapahoe Ridge High School in Boulder has seen an increase in overall drug incidents since recreational marijuana became legal.

While public schools aren't required to report marijuana incidents separately from other drugs such as cocaine, evidence compiled by Rocky Mountain PBS I-News suggests more students are using marijuana.

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

Ross Reynolds talks with state Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, about a bill he has introduced that would add PTSD to the list of conditions that could be treated by medical marijuana.

Reynolds also talks with Harborview Medical Center psychiatrist Dr. Doug Zatzick about marijuana as a treatment for PTSD.

Flickr Photo/North Cascades National Park

Ross Reynolds talks to Anthony Broadman, a partner with the Seattle law firm Galanda Broadman, about how local tribes can sell marijuana on reservations.

Left to right: Bob Ferguson, Pete Holmes, Joni Balter and Larry Hubbell at a marijuana forum at Seattle University.
Courtesy of Danielle Potter

In 2012 Washington voters’ approved Initiative 502. Passage of the measure set in place a licensing and regulation scheme and rescinded state laws criminalizing recreational marijuana use and possession. It legalized the production, sale and taxation of small amounts of marijuana-related products for adults 21 and over.

marijuana joint pot
Flickr Photo/Dann Cove (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Ross Reynolds talks with Roger Roffman, University of Washington professor emeritus, about the links between high potency marijuana and psychotic episodes.

When voters in four U.S. states — Colorado, Washington, Alaska and Oregon — approved recreational marijuana sales, part of the appeal was the promise of a new revenue source to buoy cash-strapped cities and states.

But tensions are growing in those four states over how the tax rewards from pot sales should be divided. Local governments want to get what they say is their share of pot tax revenue.

The Washington state Senate voted unanimously Wednesday to make hemp farming legal. The measure now goes to the state House for further consideration.

A panel of Oregon lawmakers will take a first look Wednesday at changes to Measure 91 -- the voter-approved legalization of recreational marijuana.

Marijuana growing operations can be major power hogs. Now that they're legal in Oregon and Washington, experts are looking for ways to make them more energy efficient.

Indoor pot growing operations use as much electricity per square foot as data centers, according to energy attorney Richard Lorenz with Cable Huston.

"Just growing four marijuana plants uses as much energy as running 29 refrigerators," he said. "The carbon output is incredible."

Thursday is Medical Cannabis Lobby Day at the Washington Capitol. State lawmakers say this is the year they will rein in the state’s “Wild West” medical pot industry.

At a Tuesday news conference, King County prosecutor Dan Satterberg said Washington’s unregulated medical marijuana industry is “unworkable” and “needs to be fixed.

A bill in the state Legislature would prevent people under age 18 from buying vaping products
Flickr Photo/Joseph Morris (CC-BY-NC-ND)

This week a state senate committee will hear a proposal that would make it illegal to sell e-cigarettes and vapes to minors.

Last fall Sen. Judy Warnick got a tip from a police officer from her district in Moses Lake. He noted that students were buying e-cigarettes easily. “They were modifying them so they could use marijuana in those cigarettes," Warnick said. 

In the years before Washington and Oregon legalized recreational pot for adults, thousands of people were convicted of misdemeanor marijuana possession.

Hemp advocates have launched a renewed bid to make hemp farming lawful in Washington state.

Flickr Photo/Chuck Coker (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Washington state lawmakers have a lot on their plates this legislative session: everything from how to fully fund basic education to a debate over how to control pollution. But some legislators also put medical marijuana regulation on their priority list.

Legalizing marijuana in Idaho has been a complete no-go, even as its neighbors have started licensing pot dispensaries and retail shops.

Marijuana will be among the top agenda items when the Washington legislature convenes Monday.

Seattle Medical Marijuana van, usually parked outside a dispensary on Fremont Avenue near the Woodland Park Zoo. Tensions have mounted between medical marijuana entities and state-licensed pot shops.
KUOW Photo/Amy Radil

Ross Reynolds talks with John Davis, owner of the Northwest Patient Resource Center, about why we wants medical marijuana to be regulated by the state. Davis is also executive director of the Coalition for Cannabis Standards and Ethics, a cannabis industry group.

What's Next For Colorado Marijuana?

Jan 2, 2015

It’s been a year since the Colorado law legalizing the sale of recreational marijuana has been in effect, and while the long lines have died down, pot shop owners and cities are still raking in big revenues from sales and taxes.

But, as Colorado Public Radio’s Ben Markus reports, there are challenges on the horizon.

The state government and the marijuana industry in Colorado are working to educate people about how to use pot safely. But in the high Rockies, one community is taking matters into its own hands.

The local sheriff in Aspen is leading an education effort that targets skiers and snowboarders flocking to the winter resort. And the sheriff isn't waiting until visitors hit the slopes — their education starts at the airport with pamphlets on marijuana.