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Two big news items from the past week you need to know about:
First, a lawsuit is challenging a policy in Wenatchee that requires businesses to follow federal law in order to get a city business license. As the Seattle Times explains, the case could have major implications for Washington's pot law and the ongoing federal vs. state issue.
Second, the U.S. House of Representatives approved an amendment to a spending bill that would prevent the Department of Justice from interfering with state medical marijuana laws. Specifically, the House version of the bill now reads:
"None of the funds made available in this Act to the Department of Justice may be used, with respect to the States of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin, to prevent such States from implementing their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana."
Remember, this still has to be approved by the Senate and signed by the president before it becomes a reality and, as Forbes explains, it may not alone completely protect patients. Still, it's a significant states' rights move from the Republican-dominated House. Below, watch the amendment's sponsor, Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), give his fiery closing remarks. “Some people are suffering," he says, "and if a doctor feels that he needs to prescribe something to alleviate that suffering, it is immoral for this government to get in the way and that’s what’s happening.”
In Washington, the Liquor Control Board, which is licensing and regulating the new market, has released a new list of FAQs addressing questions like whether retail businesses selected in the state lottery can move and whether "winning lottery tickets" can be sold to other hopeful entrepreneurs (answers: maybe and no).
The board is also now certifying labs to test growers' and processors' recreational marijuana before it goes to stores, as mandated by state rules. The first certified lab is now opening a second location in Yakima to help serve cannabis businesses on this side of the state. We wrote about this in this week's issue. (The whole process also presents the irony that, while recreational users will have access to state-certified information about their purchases, patients in the state's largely unregulated medical market — the people who arguably need more precise dosage information, for example — still won't.)
And in possibly the most Washington thing ever, a company called Mirth Provisions plans to sell cannabis-infused coffee. Yes, really. The company, which is still awaiting its producer and processor license, plans to offer cold brew (black and with cream and sugar) along with cherry, pomegranate and lemon-ginger drinks, all infused with a different strains. The goal, according the company's manifesto: "Form a more perfect Washington, establish unprecedented chillness, promote widespread joy and secure the blessings of euphoria for ourselves and our buds." We can get on board with that.
New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd wrote an awkward column this week about her very un-mellow experience eating a marijuana-infused chocolate bar in Denver and Twitter was not into it. The better read anyway is this piece that ran in the Times over the weekend (which Dowd references) about the challenges Colorado has faced in the first five months of legalization, including helping inexperienced users know how much to consume and keeping edibles out of the hands of kids. The Cannabist caught up with one of the industry insiders Dowd met while she was in town, who says he gave her the same warning everyone else gets about edibles: that they affect everyone differently. While you're at it, check out The Cannabist's guide to how to get the right dose.
Up North, Canada is getting a flood of applications from people who want to grow medical marijuana after a court there ruled the country must give patients a reasonable way to access marijuana as medicine.
In California, with a severe drought as the backdrop, controversy is brewing over marijuana growers' use of water, the AP reports.
Newly discovered documents show the tobacco industry was researching marijuana in the 1960s and '70s as both a possible business expansion opportunity and a competitive threat. "We are in the business of relaxing people who are tense and providing a pickup for people who are bored or depressed," one memo says, according to the LA Times. "The only real threat to our business is that society will find other means of satisfying those needs."
Finally, good news for Rolling Papers, the documentary following legalization in Colorado that we told you about a couple weeks ago: They reached their funding goal just before their Kickstarter campaign ended. Look forward to screenings of the film at festivals next year.