Category Archives: Washington

CLPP’s 2nd report for WSLCB is out, concerning cannabis-infused edibles & access to children

By Sam Méndez, Executive Director of the Cannabis Law and Policy Project

Today our second report for the Washington State Liquor & Cannabis Board (WSLCB) was released, announced by UW Today. The report is titled “Concerning Cannabis-Infused Edibles: Factors That Attract Children to Foods” and it seeks to provide WSLCB with a research foundation for regulating cannabis-infused edibles with children in mind, supporting some of their already established policies on the subject and providing the potential for new ones.

Photo: leafscience.com

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CLPP to launch fundraising campaign with Snoop Dogg at Vela

By Sam Méndez, Executive Director of the Cannabis Law and Policy Project

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A lot has happened in the last couple of weeks, with the [DEA’s announcement] that they won’t reschedule marijuana but will allow new entities to produce it for research purposes, ending the University of Mississippi’s monopoly on that front. We owe at least one blog post on those issues.

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Our Canopy Report’s Data Available + A Few Reflections

By Sam Méndez, Executive Director of the Cannabis Law and Policy Project

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Our report titled “Estimating Canopy Size for the Washington Medical Marijuana Market” was released back on May 12, 2016, and yesterday the anonymous survey data was made available on our website (see the heading on the right titled “Canopy Study Data”). We received a request via email to provide this data, and provided that person with the data. At that time, in the interest of transparency we figured it best to make the data available for all and easy to obtain, thus we have done so.

To recap, the report estimated that between 1.7 and 2 million square feet of canopy space (meaning, square footage of marijuana plants) would satisfy the current medical marijuana demand in Washington State. The LCB currently has allotted 12.3 million square feet of canopy for the entire regulated marijuana market, so we concluded the current allotment is enough to satisfy the current demand for marijuana, both medical and recreational, for the time being. Continue reading

Big Changes to WA MMJ Rules Come Online July 1

By Jeff Bess, third-year student at the University of Washington School of Law.

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Say goodbye to the familiar green cross.

Big changes are coming to medical marijuana in Washington state beginning tomorrow, July 1st. That is when the Cannabis Patient Protection Act (CPPA), passed by the state legislature in 2015, will come into full effect. The law, which has been gradually rolled out since its passage, is the culmination of efforts to fold Washington’s medical marijuana program – established in 1998 – into the recreational system created following the passage of I-502 in 2012. The changes mark a profound shift in the regulation of medical marijuana in Washington that will result in a fundamentally different marketplace with significant ramifications for medical marijuana patients, producers, and dispensaries.

In the short-term, the transition will likely be rocky. The most immediate effect of the new rules will be the closure of nearly all existing medical dispensaries in Washington. This is because medical marijuana dispensaries were largely unregulated under prior law and not required to be licensed by the Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB). Now, in order to reopen, medical marijuana dispensaries will have to go through the licensure process and conform to the same strict regulations as recreational dispensaries – a potentially significant hurdle for medical operations used to the informal status quo and unfamiliar with the process. Though LCB has already issued a number of licenses to “medically endorsed dispensaries” (a new term of art found in the CPPA), it will take time before they are up and running and even longer to match the output of the previous system. In the meantime, medical marijuana patients will have to go to licensed recreational dispensaries or continue to produce their own marijuana in accordance with state law.

Once the dust settles, here is what to expect:

New limits on medical marijuana sources and suppliers:

  • Medically endorsed marijuana stores must be licensed by the LCB
  • Additional restrictions on collective gardens authorized under earlier law

New marijuana taxes. Medical marijuana patients should note that, while they may be exempt from sales and use taxes, they will still be subject to the 37% excise tax on all marijuana products. Customers of medically endorsed marijuana stores are, however, exempted from certain taxes as follows:

  • No sales tax is due on medical marijuana purchases of products purchased by patients with a Washington medical marijuana card and a condition approved by the Department of Health (DOH)
  • No sales tax is due on medical marijuana purchases of low-THC products purchased by patients with a Washington medical marijuana card
  • No sales tax is due on medical marijuana purchases of high CBD products purchased by any patient

For more information on the Cannabis Patient Protection Act, check out Governor Jay Inslee’s FAQ and LCB’s information page on the law.

 

Photo by O’Dea, used under Creative Commons License.

Colorado’s Move to Eliminate Residency Requirements Could be a Boon to Cannabis Industry

By Jeff Bess, third-year stu­dent at the Uni­ver­sity of Wash­ing­ton School of Law. 

Image used under the Creative Commons License.

The continued growth and maturation of state-legal cannabis markets have led many to wonder just how the industry will develop going forward. Amid increasing speculation about the future of “Big Canna” and the globalization of the cannabis industry, a size limiting factor on the industry may be on its way out in Colorado. Continue reading

Cannabis Law & Policy Project’s First Report is Released

By Sam Mendez, Executive Director of the Cannabis Law and Policy Project

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We here at the Cannabis Law & Policy Project worked hard to produce the report titled “Estimating Canopy Size for the Washington Medical Marijuana Market” that was released today by the Washington State Liquor & Cannabis Board (LCB). A joint press release was also published, which provides a summary of the report’s background and findings. MJ Headline News has reported on today’s release.

The report estimated that between 1.7 and 2 million square feet of canopy space (meaning, square footage of marijuana plants) would satisfy the current medical marijuana demand in Washington State. The LCB currently has allotted 12.3 million square feet of canopy for the entire regulated marijuana market, and we believe that that amount is enough to satisfy the current demand for marijuana, both medical and recreational.

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Responding to Erwin Chemerinsky’s Op-Ed on Marijuana Legalization

By Sam Mendez, Executive Director of the Cannabis Law and Policy Project

There is been much recent discussion, both on this blog and around the country, about the possibility of legalizing marijuana at the federal level (or at least changing it’s current legal status). Beyond simply arguing for or against the idea, there are questions as to how exactly legalization would occur if the day came. Naturally, there is more to it than what initially meets the eye. Earlier today, the Washington Post published an op-ed by Erwin Chemerinsky that points out how legalization will not be as swift or simple as some might think.

Photo credit: Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

Credit: Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

Erwin Chemerinsky is one of the nation’s most respected legal scholars, particularly in constitutional law. He is currently the second-most frequently cited American legal scholar. It would be folly to attempt to pin him down as “pro-” or “anti-” legalization, though he does write in the op-ed, “Like the prohibition of alcohol in the 1920s, the prohibition of marijuana has been a failure.” In 2013, he wrote a very interesting piece in the L.A. Times urging the federal government to respect the laws of Washington and Colorado, which had recently legalized marijuana. In that piece, Chemerinsky argued that these state laws were not necessarily preempted by the federal Controlled Substances Act, which makes possession of marijuana a punishable crime. “Preemption” is a legal doctrine that effectively means where there is a conflict between federal and state laws, the federal laws will carry the day. As Chemerinsky wrote,

The preemption doctrine is based on the supremacy clause of Article VI of the Constitution, which makes federal law “the supreme law of the land” trumping conflicting state laws. The question, then, is whether there is a conflict between the federal government prohibiting small amounts of marijuana and some states not doing so.

He then argued that there is not a conflict when one level of government has a law prohibiting conduct and another level of government does not have such a law. He stated, “a state can decide that certain conduct does not violate state law even if it offends federal law. It is then for the federal government to decide how, if at all, it wants to enforce the federal law.”

In the piece published today, Chemerinsky stated correctly that legalizing marijuana at the federal level will not necessarily make marijuana legal in the entire country, because states may still have laws prohibiting marijuana. He wrote,

Completely legalizing marijuana in the United States would require the actions of both the federal government and every state government. If the federal government repealed its criminal prohibition of marijuana or rescheduled the drug under federal law, that would not change state laws that forbid its possession or sale. Likewise, state governments can repeal their marijuana laws, in whole or in part, but that does not change federal law.

Chemerinsky is correct that a change of laws at one level of government does not necessarily affect the laws of another level of government. He also correctly pointed out the effort government has gone to arrest people for marijuana violations, particularly African Americans and Latinos.

What was not mentioned in this op-ed was the likely subsequent scenario should federal laws change: and that is the inevitability of states following and legalizing marijuana. To be sure, states and localities would be free to prohibit marijuana just as some communities still prohibit alcohol. But the majority of states and localities would probably legalize following a hypothetical federal legalization, simply because of the potential tax base gained from regulating marijuana. Colorado, merely the 22nd largest state by population, raised nearly $1 billion in 2015 in marijuana related taxes. Plenty of arguments can be made against legalizing marijuana, be they moral or health related, but what state could resist those potential taxes?

This is not to say that Chemerinsky is wrong. He is correct to state that legalization will be “much harder than you think.” Still, one must wonder how fast legalization at the state level would pick up steam if the federal government made such a change.

Something in the Air – Cannabis & Clean Air Policies

By Sam Mendez, Executive Director of the Cannabis Law and Policy Project

Recently, the Washington State Liquor & Cannabis Board (LCB) sent out an email on behalf of the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency (PSCAA), a regional government agency tasked with keeping the Puget Sound’s air clean. The email reminds producers and processors of marijuana in the region that in order to operate they must submit a Notice of Construction (NOC) application to obtain an Order of Approval from the PSCAA.

Cannabis is a very different product from tobacco, with it’s own regulatory structure to boot. But businesses in both industries have to abide by state and federal clean air rules, just as individuals smoking either product have to abide by public smoking rules. In King County, which includes Seattle, use of vaporizers in public is banned as well.

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Credit: Puget Sound Clean Air Agency

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Washington State Adopts Marijuana Recall Rules

By Daniel Shortt 

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On March 23, 2016, the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) revised draft marijuana rules and adopted emergency rules. The LCB’s rulemaking is part of its continued effort to implement the Cannabis Patient Protection Act, which requires the LCB and the Department of Health  regulate medical marijuana.

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Cannabis Industry Labor Laws

This post  was originally written by Daniel Shortt for Canna Law Blog

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Marijuana industry workers face a unique legal landscape due to the interplay of federal and state law. Several states allow for medical use of marijuana and Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Washington D.C. have legalized cannabis for recreational use. Federal law has not followed suit and it still prohibits marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act. This dichotomy of laws creates ambiguity when it comes to how federal law applies to marijuana businesses in a whole host of legal areas, including labor and employment law.

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