Saturday, October 26, 2013

Washington State Marijuana Activists Fear for Their Industry

Earlier this month, the Seattle City Council voted to require medical marijuana businesses to apply for a license under Initiative 502 regulations designed to regulate recreational marijuana, and medical cannabis activists are afraid it will destroy their industry.

The medical marijuana industry does not want to be incorporated into the same market and some activists believe the government intends to eliminate the medical industry altogether, which would only hurt medical cannabis patients.

The City Council says that they have no such intention. Instead, they are simply trying to pressure the Legislature into action. The governor has already called upon the state liquor board to take up the issue of medical marijuana in January.

When signed into law, the state’s medical marijuana legislation didn’t have any clear rules for buying, selling and processing, or sanitation requirements. Therefore, dispensaries that have emerged in Washington State have largely been unregulated.

If medical marijuana were subject to the same rules as recreational licenses, medical dispensaries in business since 2011 would have to comply with the new, more stringent regulations. This could be extremely costly for some medical businesses, preventing them from passing background checks, or placing them in zoning violations, and forcing them to discontinue operations.

For now, the city council will grandfather in medical marijuana dispensaries under their current rules, but only until 2015 when they will be subject to whatever new rules the state Liquor Control Board decides on. If the statewide limit on marijuana outlets is applied to medical businesses as well, it could make obtaining any kind of marijuana license equally difficult.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Legal Marijuana Trend Spreading in the West

If marijuana advocates in four states can get the required signatures to put the question on ballots in 2014, marijuana could be legalized for another 49 million Americans.

At the moment, public opinion is shifting, and Arizona, California, Alaska and Oregon plan to ride the wave of momentum that was created by Colorado and Washington last year. According to a survey by the Pew research Center released in April, 52 percent of Americans favor legalizing marijuana use.

The Justice Department’s announcement not to intervene in the formation of a regulatory structure to oversee recreational marijuana in Colorado and Washington, as long as prevent out-of-state distribution, access to minors, drugged driving and revenue from going to cartels, will almost definitely help accelerate change in public opinion.

In addition to recreational use, there are efforts to expand the twenty states that allow medical marijuana. Ballot proposals to legalize medical marijuana are being circulated in Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Nebraska, Utah and Wyoming.

In Oregon, where a referendum to legalize recreational pot narrowly failed last year, two pot measures are being circulated for signatures. In Portland, Maine, voters will consider a measure next month that would allow possession of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana for adults 21 and older. Economists say that legalizing marijuana could generate $8.7 billion annually in tax revenue for federal, state and local governments.

While many marijuana advocates are hustling to get their initiatives on the 2014 ballots, marijuana proponents in Montana are holding off until 2016 because presidential elections typically bring out more, and younger voters.