Marijuana: The Path To Legalization In Washington State

Washington became one of the first states to legalize marijuana for recreational use in 2012. But there are a lot of challenges ahead: the state must set up a licensing system for marijuana growers and sellers, the federal government may mount a challenge, the need to set a new limit on amount of marijuana in the bloodstream for safe driving. And medical marijuana is still in the picture.

Over the next several months we will be exploring the issue and tracking the impact of I-502.

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Marijuana Legalization
1:05 pm
Fri October 18, 2013

State Agencies To Issue Medical Marijuana Roadmap

Now that Washington state’s regulations for recreational marijuana have been finalized, policymakers are turning their attention to medical marijuana.

The current system for patients to obtain marijuana with medical authorizations is largely unregulated.  Federal authorities say that needs to change. 

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Marijuana Rules
2:41 pm
Tue October 8, 2013

Will Seattle's New Marijuana Rules Delay Access To Pot?

Brent Miller displays marijuana plants at one of the grow rooms of his medical marijuana grow operation in Seattle. Gov. Inslee said he wants a clearer distinction between medical and recreational pot.
AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

Governor Jay Inslee's interview with KUOW's Ross Reynolds.

CEO of Northwest Patient Resource Center founder and CEO John Davis' interview with KUOW's David Hyde.

Seattle City Councilmember Nick Licata's interview with KUOW's David Hyde.

The Seattle City Council attempted to clarify on Monday how pot could be distributed within the city, but how consumers will be able to buy marijuana remains hazy.

Gov. Jay Inslee told The Record’s Ross Reynolds that many people are still buying marijuana through medical channels – even though they don’t need it. He called the current medical marijuana system the “Wild West.”

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Pot Regulation
10:02 am
Tue October 1, 2013

Labs Worry As Marijuana Testing Standards Lag

Austin Jenkins Northwest News Network

Originally published on Mon September 30, 2013 4:42 pm

Before legal marijuana in Washington hits store shelves, it will have to be tested. Special pot labs will check for potency, molds, foreign matter and bacteria like E. Coli.

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Seattle Pot Stores
4:10 pm
Wed September 25, 2013

Could 23rd & Union Become Pot Central?

One of the few places in the heart of Seattle that could legally host a pot retail center is 23rd Avenue and Union Street, in the Central District.
Google Maps

Beginning next year, as many as 21 marijuana retail stores could be open for business in Seattle — and that's sparked a contentious debate over where these stores can be located.

State rules mandate that retail stores must be 1,000 feet from schools, public parks, libraries and even transit centers. That leaves very few places for pot stores to open. According to the city's preliminary map, in nearly all of central Seattle (including Capitol Hill, First Hill and the Central Area), there are very few places that pot retailers will be able to open up. One of those places is the corner of 23rd Avenue and E Union Street.

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Marijuana Retail
12:03 pm
Wed September 25, 2013

Kent Says No To Recreational Pot Stores

Flickr Photo/Dank Depot

Starting next year, recreational pot stores will be open for business all over the state of Washington. State officials said the city of Kent could have three. But now, it looks like they won’t have any. Last year, the Kent City Council banned medical marijuana collective gardens over concerns that they violated federal law. Now, the city’s applying that same ban to recreational pot stores. Why?

Pat Fitzpatrick is Kent’s acting city attorney. He talked with Ross Reynolds.

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Pot Banking
10:28 am
Tue September 24, 2013

Washington's Bank Willing To Accommodate Pot Revenue

Washington state Treasurer James McIntire
Courtesy of Washington State Treasurer's Office

Bank of America will handle proceeds connected to marijuana sales despite federal restrictions. Under federal policy, the government views money from marijuana sales as money laundering.

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Pot Ruling
7:54 am
Fri September 20, 2013

Washington High Court Sides With Non-Card-Carrying Medical Marijuana Patient

Cacophony Wikipedia

Originally published on Thu September 19, 2013 3:18 pm

The Washington Supreme Court has sided with a wheelchair-bound pot user who lacked an official medical marijuana card. In a split ruling Thursday, the high court said even non-card-holding patients can mount a medical necessity defense at trial.

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Federal Vs. State Law
5:18 pm
Fri September 13, 2013

Washington Amends Pot Regulations To Appease Feds

If someone sells drugs within 1,000 feet of a school, they can receive a stiffer sentence under federal law. In developing rules for legal marijuana, Washington state regulators tried to depart slightly from that federal rule. They allowed stores to count the 1,000 feet along sidewalks or roads, rather than “as the crow flies.”

The change would have created more legal locations for pot stores.  But now the state is backtracking.

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Federal Vs. State Law
3:33 am
Fri September 13, 2013

Feds Seek To Corral Medical Marijuana 'Wild West'

A man pulls out a bag of marijuana to fill a pipe at Hempfest in Seattle on Aug. 16. Thousands packed a waterfront park for the opening of a three-day marijuana festival, an event that is part party, part protest and part victory celebration after the legalization of pot in Washington and Colorado in 2012.
Elaine Thompson AP

When the Obama administration recently announced it wouldn't challenge the decision by Colorado and Washington voters to fully legalize marijuana, criticism rained down.

The administration's position, complained one Colorado congressman, was tantamount to allowing states to opt out of the federal law banning pot possession, cultivation and sale.

Other anti-legalization activists predicted that the administration was waving the white flag in the war on drugs.

The first claim is essentially true: The states will be creating their own regulatory regimes.

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Banking
7:46 am
Tue September 10, 2013

U.S. Senate To Hold Hearing On State Pot Legalization

Architect of the Capitol

Originally published on Mon September 9, 2013 5:01 pm

The conflict between federal law and pot legalization in Washington and Colorado will be on the agenda in Congress this week.

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Pot Legalization
9:28 am
Mon September 9, 2013

Pot Taxes Paid In Cash? Washington Says OK

Leah Gaines US Navy

Originally published on Fri September 6, 2013 4:48 pm

Marijuana-based businesses in Washington will be able to pay their taxes in cash. That’s the word from the state’s Department of Revenue.

The agency is gearing up for more cash filers in its field offices.

Most banks are unwilling to open accounts for marijuana businesses because of the federal prohibition on pot. That means Washington’s new, legal recreational marijuana market could be a largely cash-based enterprise.

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New Rules On Pot
1:03 pm
Wed September 4, 2013

Revised Pot Rules Allow 334 Retail Stores In Washington

Flickr Photo/prensa4

Washington could have as many as 334 marijuana retail stores statewide. That’s the cap proposed on Wednesday by the state’s Liquor Control Board.

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