Friday, December 21, 2012

Washington City's Proposed Changes in Zoning Medical Marijuana Businesses Causes Uproar

Proposed zoning changes for medical marijuana facilities in Everett, Wash. have access advocated up in arms. The proposed law would allow the city to close medical marijuana operations on nuisance grounds, but would allow collective farms to conduct business in parts of the town designated as industrial, away from its residential areas.

Despite the fact that marijuana is legal in Washington for medicinal and recreational purposes, Everett's city council is worried about the federal government closing the medical pot businesses.

"We want to make sure we are honoring state law. We also want to make sure that the federal law is not going to put us in a bad situation," said Everett city spokesperson Kate Reardon told KOMO News.

However, the city's justification does not satisfy medical marijuana users who are protesting the proposed changes. "Why is is fair for someone in Seattle or Shoreline to have that right, or the corner store, when these people in Everett can't? It's just not fair," said Jeremy Kelsey of the Medical Marijuana Patients' Network.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Medical Marijuana User Faces Termination of Housing Benefits — In Colorado (as in Pot-is-Legal-in-Colorado Colorado)

A Longmont, Colorado woman is facing termination of her Section 8 benefits because of her use of medical marijuana — despite the fact that the state was one of two that recently legalized recreational use of the drug, Denver NBC affiliate 9News reports.

Ashley Weber, who was paralyzed because of a drunk driver, depends on the monthly check from the Longmont Housing Authority to rent a house for herself and her three year old son. It also provided the funds that made her bathroom wheelchair accessible.

Weber uses medical marijuana in edible form. She says it helps with the pain from her injuries and muscle spasms. When she submitted paperwork that included her medical marijuana expenses during a yearly renewal, the housing authority stopped her benefits.

A spokesman for the agency said it has zero tolerance policy for drug use.

Again — Colorado. Legalized pot. What the hell?

"When I got the letter, I was sick to my stomach," Weber said. "I would have nowhere else to go.

Weber has found an attorney to represent her, pro bono. If her benefits are not reinstated, the lawyer plans to file suit against the housing agency.

Angelinos to Vote on Virtually the Same Pro-Medical Pot Initiatives in March

Los Angeles will have not one, but two medical marijuana initiatives to vote on in March. But it's not what you're expecting, with anti-pot group facing off against a pro-pot group. Instead it's a sort-of ludicrous Sophie's choice that puts the initiatives of two medical marijuana groups up against each other.

The Medical Marijuana Regulation and Control Act would only allow those dispensaries that opened and registered with Los Angeles as of Sept. 14, 2007. It's estimated that only about 100 clubs currently meet that criteria, the reports.

The Medical Marijuana Collectives Initiative Ordinance would allow dispensaries if they register with the city and adhere to policies decided on by the city. The proposed law would also give priority to those dispensaries that "operated as of September 14, 2007; timely registered with the City; have not ceased operations for 90 days except to relocate or in response to federal action; provide no ingress/egress from adjacent residential zoned lots; pass annual LAPD background checks; and after 300 days maintain a certain distance from schools, parks, and other designated places."

Over 450 medical marijuana dispensaries currently operate within Los Angeles.

So what are the possible outcomes? Both initiatives are shot down, but considering the overwhelming support for medical pot by Angelinos, that's not likely. One of the initiatives pass, which is pretty likely. Or, both initiatives pass, causing even more confusion in the Los Angeles dispensary industry — while not as likely as just one of the measures massing, this is still a very strong possibility...and once again, confusion will rule.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Forget Amsterdam — Marijuana Tourism may Take Off in Seattle and Aspen

With the future of Amsterdam's legendary coffee shops up in the air, will marijuana tourism in Colorado and Washington take up the slack for Americans looking for a legal toke?

It's one of the possible unintended consequences of the states legalizing pot, the Sandusky Register reports. While tourist officials in Aspen downplay the possibility of the city becoming "Aspendam," as some are saying tongue in-cheek, ski resorts are quietly investigating the possibility to adding adults-only cannabis lodges.

Seattle's "Hempfest" draws 250,000 visitors to the event, and are left alone, for the most part, by local law enforcement and city officials.

Now that pot is legal in Washington, even larger numbers are expected. Vivian McPeak, the event's executive director, said, "People travel to Seattle from other states and countries to attend Seattle Hempfest every year to experience the limited freedom that happens at the event. It's reasonable to assume that people will travel to Washington assuming that the federal government doesn't interfere.

Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo, whose jurisdiction includes Aspen, takes a tolerant attitude toward the possibility of pot tourism.

"For me, it's going to be live and let live. If people want to come to Colorado because pot is legal — and that's the sole reason — it's up to them. I am not the lifestyle police," he said.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Marijuana Advocates Try to Read the Tea Leaves in Obama's Latest Medical Pot Statement

In a recent interview with ABC's Barbara Walters, President Obama had this to say about casual users who are now smoking legally under the protection of Colorado and Washington: "We've got bigger fish to fry."

He continued, "It would not make sense for us to see a top priority as going after recreational users in states that have determined that it’s legal."

What he actually meant, though, is making pro-legalization and pro-access advocates each give their own conflicting opinions on the subject, according to the Eureka, Calif.'s Times-Standard.

Mark Lovelace, a district supervisor in Humoldt County, expressed his reservations about the quote. "A statement to Barbara Walters is far from substantive policy," he said.

"I would welcome any movement from the feds that would allow state and local government to regulate marijuana,” he added. "Even better would be to see not just a hands-off approach, but...a cooperative approach."

But others took his statement at face value. Joe Elford, general counsel for Americans for Safe Access, said, "It's a tremendous step forward. It suggests the feds are taking seriously enough the idea that there should be a carve-out for states with marijuana laws."

However, with federal raids on dispensaries commonplace despite then-presidential candidate Obama's promises to be hands-off when it came to medical marijuana, others aren't so optimistic about the future.

Alison Sterling-Nichols, former Humboldt Growers Association and Emerald Growers Association executive director voiced her doubts about the President and government agencies having "bigger fish to fry."

"Honestly, he said that in '08 when he was running for president about medical marijuana," she said.

Reefer Madness Redux: I-502 Makes Educators Ask Hard Questions About Policies, Anti-Drug Curriculum

Now that pot is legal in Washington state and Colorado, how will anti-drug crusaders now address the subject now that it's as legal as alcohol and tobacco? More importantly, how will those in schools discuss this "gateway drug"?

According to an article by the West Seattle Herald, the change in law is making educators examine what they're teaching to kids in terms of drug prevention. With the voter OK for legalization, it's making them realize that they may need to reexamine what they're teaching.

"Especially with the marijuana laws that passed recently, I think that one of the things we are not doing well at our school, and I think at many of our schools, is we are not really educating our kids very well," Diane Garcia, a principal at Cascade, a middle school, said.

Surprisingly, one of the school's counselors, Julian McCullough, admitted that not all students fit the stoner/underachiever stereotype and that some are better at coping that others and identifying kids who use drugs may not be easy as others want believe. While some students may have performance that plummets if they start to use marijuana, others maintain their grades.

"I’m sure that we have kids who are using regularly who come to school and get really good grades, play sports, and just do really well," McCullough said.