Friday, February 17, 2012

Washington State's Legislature Refuses to Clarify Legal Status of Dispensaries

Though storefront medical marijuana operations can be found in Seattle and Tacoma, their existence is cloaked in a legal gray zone.

An attempt to legalize medical dispensaries, such as those found in California, is dead in the state legislature despite the best efforts of outspoken access advocate Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, a Democrat from Seattle.  "The bottom line is, it was very difficult to reach a full consensus. There wasn’t as much momentum and interest as there was last year," Kohl-Welles told The Seattle Times.

The bill would have established the legality of 105 dispensaries in Seattle, as well as establish a patient registry.

The hopes of medical access advocates now rests on the state of Washington's initiative to legalize the recreational use of pot.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Greater Los Angeles Collective Alliance Seeks Tighter Regulation of Medical Pot Industry

Though the Greater Los Angeles Collective Alliance only lists 13 collectives as members of its organization, it's become one of the leading voices for pot shops in the city.

When the city council meets about anything related to their interests, the GLACA is there. Recently, with U.S. Attorneys threatening action against local landowners and local governments that support medical marijuana, the city council's stance on the issue is to shut all the establishments down. In response, the GLACA has proposed tight regulations on the medical marijuana dispensary community with a government enforcement arm to back it up, the L.A. Weekly reports.

While the GLACA's stance on the issue seems contradictory to their mission, when examined closer it reveals perhaps the only way to save safe and legal access in L.A. The organization is currently seeking signatures to place its proposal on the ballot.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Profitable Collectives do Not Violate the Law, California Medical Marijuana Author Says

U.S. Attorneys shutting down medical marijuana collectives in California more often that not use the talking point of "profitability" as if it was a four letter word.

However according to the author of the state's medical marijuana law, former state Senator John Vasconcellos, a profitable collective doesn't mean it's breaking the law. In fact, according to the law he authored, there's no requirement that the dispensary be non-profit, reports the L.A. Weekly.

In a letter to clarify the issue, he wrote:
Nothing in that section prohibits profit. Nothing in that section explicitly authorizes profit, either. But I must point out that nobody is required to obtain an "authorization" from the Legislature to make a profit in California. 
... the language does not in any respect purport to prohibit profit ~ if that had been the intent, the language would have so stated clearly. It obviously does no such thing.

Washington Punts Legalized Marijuana Question to Voters

The Washington legislature refused to act on a voter-backed initiative to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in the state, leaving the decision up to the voters in November.

If passed, the law would be the first in the nation to OK the recreational use of the drug. Similar voter initiatives in other states, such as California and Oregon, are taking place but none have been able to secure the number of signatures to bring the issue to the ballot.

Support for relaxing the use of marijuana comes from unlikely corners, including former law enforcement officials. The Seattle Times reports Charles Mandigo, the former head of Seattle's FBI field office, testified, "It is the money, not the drugs, that drive these criminal organizations and street gangs. Take away the money and you take away the criminal element."

If passed, the law would allow Washington residents 21 and over the right to purchase dried marijuana, marijuana in edibles and marijuana-infused drinks. The state would impose a 25 percent tax on processors, growers and stores.