Washington DC appears to be headed on a collision course with full marijuana legalization according to a recent Marist Poll that shows support at an overwhelming 65%. The measure would effectively allow adults age 21 and over to posses up to two ounces of marijuana and grow up to 6 plants, without a doctor’s recommendation.
Although the possession of marijuana would be legal, the sale of marijuana would still be illegal under the District’s laws. Lawmakers expect that it would take another year after the measure passes to nail down the regulatory framework and tax laws for the industry to thrive. DC Council sat down last Thursday to talk about what the taxing and regulation of marijuana would look like for the city.
Council member Vincent Orange told the Washington Post:
“It could be an opportunity to generate a tremendous amount of tax revenue. But from my point of view, it has to be set up right.”
Council member David Grosso introduced a bill back in September that aimed to tax marijuana in many of the same ways that Colorado has. Under the bill marijuana would be regulated much as alcohol is in the District, even relying on DC’s existing alcohol regulators to police the sale of marijuana.
Grosso said Thursday last that he spent a lot of time reworking the bill to meet public concerns. He allowed for a medical marijuana program, which had been struck from the original bill, to to exist simultaneously. He also accounted for the projected $130 Million in tax revenue, sending significant portions to youth programs and prevention efforts.
If Initiative 71 passes tomorrow, it will be sent to Congress for a 30 day legislative review then would likely take effect in the first few months of 2015. However, unlike Colorado and Washington’s legalization programs it may be more difficult for the Obama Administration to turn a blind eye at the issue.
Maryland Congressman Andy Harris (R) took aim at blocking the decriminalization of marijuana back and June and will take action against Initiative 71 when passed. Harris says, “If legalization passes, I will consider using all resources available to a member of Congress to stop this action, so that drug use among teens does not increase.”
Harris defiantly wants to project his own beliefs on the District, despite DC’s Home Rule which gives residents a say in their own city. Still, Congress has more control over DC than exists for any other state.
The republicans would have the power to take the issue before Congress where DC’s cash is under their control, but a Presidential veto could be the final say on legalization. The timing of the bill is absolutely imperative as Congressional seats begin changing hands this fall. Grosso remains hopeful about the passage of the bill, but reminds us how important it is to get out and vote now:
“We have to move on this while President Obama is in office. I don’t know what happens after that.”
Photo Credit: Glyn Lowe Photoworks
Last week Seattle’s medical marijuana dispensaries began receiving letters saying they need to get licenses or face closure. Only one problem; the city has not yet begun issuing said licenses. Seattle has more than 300 medical marijuana dispensaries but the regulation of these medical shops is far less stringent than recreational shops.
Karl Keich, owner of Seattle Medical Marijuana Association says, “Countless patients who rely on my services will have nowhere to go if my shop is shut down.” Keich says he has paid more than $150,000 in taxes to the state of Washington along with additional taxes to local government.
The state of Washington has implemented it’s own unique approach to full legalization in contrast to Colorado’s recreational cannabis laws. Colorado issued trust to existing medical marijuana dispensaries and allowed them to simultaneously exist in both a medical and recreational capacity. Washington’s loose laws around the medical marijuana program pushed the state to separate medical and recreational dispensaries entirely. Both states, however, are facing some of the same problems. Medical marijuana is being bought by consumers, then redistributed on the black market.
Back in May, Seattle Attorney Pete Holmes wrote an op-ed urging lawmakers to merge the marijuana programs into one system. “We must ultimately fold medical marijuana producers and stores into a common statewide regulatory system,” Holmes wrote.
The letters gives Seattle dispensaries until July, 1 2015 to get their licenses. The letter says, “If you began operating after Nov. 16, 2013 and do not have state issued license, you are in violation of City law and can be subjected to enforcement action.”
Although the appropriates licenses to operate don’t yet exist, local government officials say they have given both themselves and dispensaries a large enough window to sort through it all. The deputy director of Seattle’s Department of Finance and Administrative Services, Denise Movius, who authored the letter spoke towards this issue, saying, “The dates set by the City Council, which are in place today, provide ample time for the State to take action and provide some guidance both for the businesses and local jurisdictions.”
Both Washington and Colorado have faced hurdles in their first months of legalization and there will certainly be more to come. The friction between dispensaries and government has remained at an amicable level as a whole, and more cooperation will lead to more progress in legitimizing this new industry for the rest of the country.
Photo Credit: Seattle Times
A Washington Sheriff is giving Oregon voter’s some important information regarding the legalization of marijuana: it’s working. The King County (Seattle) Sheriff spoke out in a video for the “Yes on 91” campaign released this Monday. In the video, Sheriff John Urquhart tells Oregonians, “The evidence keeps coming in, our new approach is working. Month by month, tax dollars are going to schools and police, not the drug cartels.” Urquhart also sites that wasteful arrests are down, along with the number of DUIs.
Sheriff Urquhart isn’t just blowing smoke either. He is a veteran with a career of 36 years in law enforcment including time as a patrol officer and a street-level narcotics detective. He first issued his support for legalization back in 2012 while running for King County Sheriff.
His support ranges from his home state all the way to the nation’s capitol in 2013 where he told Congress, “My experience shows me that the war on drugs has been a failure. We have not significantly reduced demand over time but we have incarcerated generations of individuals with the highest incarceration rate around the world.”
Urquhart went on to tell Congress “We, the government have failed the people and now they want to try something else. Too often the attitude of the police is, We’re the cops, you’re not. Don’t try to tell us how to do our jobs. Thats the wrong attitude.”
It’s refreshing to see this type of rhetoric being used to educate the United States Senate as well as voters who struggle to find accurate and trustworthy information about the legalization of cannabis. It’s clear that Urquhart’s intentions are pure and who better to speak out on the issue than a man who has spent most of his life locking up citizens for the opposing team. Now it’s up to Oregon voters to decide as ballots are cast this fall.
Image Source: seattlepi.com
Happy Tuesday, Seattle! It’s all happening!
The second retail shop for recreational marijuana in Seattle proper will open it’s doors today at noon. A total of sixty retail licenses for recreational marijuana shops were granted for the city. The first retail shop opened July 8, 2014, and until today, it was the the one and only provider. Congratulations to the residents of Seattle, and congratulations to the state, as it will finally be able to begin cashing in on more of the high tax revenue earned from retail purchases of recreational marijuana.
Cannabis City, pictured above, is currently the sole retail shop, and is not able to keep product on the shelves. The store flies a flag outside to show customers whether any product is available each day. Sometimes the only products available at the store are pre-rolled joints or shake, which is not near the quality expected by customers. This store often running out of product means there is a higher demand for retail marijuana than there is supply. This means that consumers inside Seattle proper do not want to commute to the metro area to purchase their marijuana, and that is great news for store number two, called Uncle Ike’s, as well as all shops opening in the future.
Three more recreational marijuana shops are scheduled to open by October 18, 2014. The remaining shops have yet to announce opening dates. Consumers, shop owners and the state of Washington all stand to benefit from the grand openings of the remaining fifty five shops. More retail product available for consumer purchase promotes purchases leaving the black market.
photo credit: AvgeekJoe