Wednesday, February 11, 2015

WW: Kettle Falls Five prosecutor frets, Cannabis Cup winners and Bob's b-day

Posted By on Wed, Feb 11, 2015 at 4:24 PM

The prosecution in the Kettle Falls Five case, which involves a family of medical marijuana patients who are facing federal drug charges, is worried that the jury will ignore the law and vote to acquit the defendants in order to send a social message, according to a motion filed by U.S. attorneys on February 10.

The motion also really doesn’t want the defense or anyone else to talk about medical marijuana during court proceedings. Medical marijuana remains illegal under federal law, even though 23 states, including Washington, legitimize its use. Because the case is in federal court, the defendants aren’t allow to discuss medical marijuana at all, giving the prosecution a straight shot at putting the family in jail for possibly 10 years each.

The motion raises concerns that the defense is attempting jury nullification, where jurors deliberately reject evidence and legal standards in order to send a message about some issue. Pointing to a recent article on by libertarian writer Jacom Sullum that quotes Phil Telfeyan, one of the defense attorneys for the family, the motion suggests that even though medical marijuana can’t be mentioned in proceedings, jurors will read about this aspect of the case beforehand and vote to acquit: 
The United States believes this indicates the Defendants are attempting to engage in jury nullification – by circumventing the Court’s previous Order and attempting to provide the jury with evidence by “planting the seed” and hoping it will germinate in the jury deliberation room into a discussion of issues which the Court has already ruled are not relevant to this case and should be not considered by the jury. The law in this area is straightforward, it is improper for a Defendant to suggest in any way that the jury should acquit the Defendant even if it finds the United States has met its burden of proof. 
In other news:

The winners of the High Times SoCal Medical Cannabis Cup are in.

A federal study has found that driving stoned is probably fine.

A new Tinder-style app called “High There” helps marijuana-friendly singles meet.

Facing the prospect of fines and jail time, D.C. lawmakers and staff aren’t moving forward with hearings on legal pot.

The Jamaican Senate passed a bill that decriminalizes marijuana on Bob Marley’s birthday.

But remember that decriminalization is not legalization, so:

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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Dave's not here, man, but Cheech & Chong are coming to Idaho

Posted By on Wed, Feb 4, 2015 at 3:52 PM

In the late '70s and early '80s, it was hard to find a hotter comedy act than the duo of Cheech & Chong, unless you count the time Richard Pryor set himself on fire

The stoner comics took a nightclub act and turned it into a pop cultural force, creating hit movies and best-selling albums (including that famous "Dave" sketch) that gave every serious weedhead and occasional dabbler a reason to laugh the night away before hitting the Cheetos. 

After their creative partnership seemingly dried up, the two split in the late '80s, with Cheech Marin going on to some mainstream success in movies like Tin Cup and on shows like Nash Bridges, while Tommy Chong hit the road to do standup and created a line of pot-related products. That business eventually got him in trouble thanks to some overzealous California law enforcement, landing Chong in jail for nearly a year

When he got out, his old buddy Cheech was ready to get the act back together, and Cheech & Chong have been pretty much touring the casino and theater circuit ever since. 

They will hit the Coeur d'Alene Casino on Thursday, March 5, along with WAR, the killer Latin-funk outfit that provided the soundtrack to some of Cheech & Chong's most memorable movie scenes with their tune "Low Rider." Tickets for the show are on sale now for $45 and $55, via TicketsWest. 

This clip from Up In Smoke shows how well the comedy team and WAR go together: 

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WW: Feds won't drop Kettle Falls Five case; Nancy Grace talks Dr. Drew's 'big fat doobie'

Posted By on Wed, Feb 4, 2015 at 2:40 PM

Welcome back to Weed Wednesday, your weekly dose of pot news. Wondering what this is about? Click. Looking for our previous marijuana coverage? Click. Got a question or tip? Email me at: [email protected]

Late last year, Congress passed a massive spending bill that contained just a few lines of text that was intended to send a clear message: Federal law enforcement agencies need to quit interfering with state medical marijuana programs. To that end, a paragraph included in the bill stated that no funding was to be used by federal law enforcement agencies to interfere with medical pot in states where it’s legal.

The legislation, signed into law by the president, had particular significance for the Kettle Falls Five, an Eastern Washington family that is facing serious federal drug charges (under which pot is completely illegal) for growing marijuana that they assumed was legal under their state program.

With Congress sending a message that they don’t want federal law enforcement going after medical marijuana, the family’s lawyer filed a motion last month to dismiss the case. The motion argued that the prosecution was in conflict with congressional intent, and it cited floor speeches by members of Congress stating that people using medical marijuana under their state law should be left alone by the feds.

But the prosecutors haven’t given up yet.

A response filed by U.S. Attorney Michael Ormsby on January 29 argues that the family shouldn’t be off the hook because there is evidence to show that the family was actually running a criminal for-profit operation under the guise of medical marijuana.

“It is clear that the defendants are hiding behind the medical marijuana laws in Washington in order to profit from their manufacture of marijuana. It is clear that they have violated both state and federal law,” reads the response.

Citing floor speeches from members of Congress who supported the amendment to the budget bill, Ormsby argues that the legislative intent was to protect physicians and patients prescribed the drug from prosecution.

“It is clear that there is still a political debate regarding marijuana,” reads the response. “This amendment has said nothing about the Controlled Substances Act so it is clear that it is still a violation of federal law to manufacture or distribute marijuana. The new law is intended to help patients and doctors and promote research into the uses of marijuana. It is not intended to protect or shield criminals from federal prosecution.”

Continue reading »

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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

WW: Washington State Legislature thinks about marijuana; Jamaica is about to change law on pot

Posted By on Wed, Jan 28, 2015 at 2:19 PM

Welcome back to Weed Wednesday, your weekly dose of pot news. Wondering what this is about? Click. Looking for our previous marijuana coverage? Click. Got a question or tip? Email me at [email protected]

The Washington State Legislature is in full effect, and some lawmakers have pot on their mind as they scramble to get bills pushed through before the session ends.

Perhaps the most notable weed-related topic this session are attempts to bring greater clarity to the state’s freewheeling medical marijuana program and its relationship to the restrictive recreational market. One proposal that’s getting attention is the idea of essentially folding the medical program into the recreational. Proponents of the idea say that it makes no sense to have a largely untaxed and unregulated medical market running parallel to a tightly regulated recreational market. Opponents says that it will undermine the medical marijuana market, which patients rely on for medicine.

Here’s a smattering other marijuana-related bills lawmakers are pondering:

SB 5417 would direct more marijuana tax money to local governments. Jurisdictions that have banned marijuana shops would get none of it.

SB 5002 would make it a traffic infraction to posses an open container of marijuana in a car where it could accessed by the driver or passenger.

HB 1041 would allow people who have a marijuana-related misdemeanor on their record to apply to get it vacated because the drug is legal now. A similar bill introduced last session ended up going nowhere after pushback from prosecutors.

SB 5051 would allow marijuana businesses to deliver their products right to your door.

HB 1650 would allow law enforcement to auction off pot and concentrates that have been illegally grown or produced.

SB 5493 would establish that cannabis health and beauty aids (which are pot-enhanced products intended to enhance the health or appearance of the user that don’t cross the blood-brain barrier) shouldn’t be regulated like pot.

Here’s the news elsewhere:

The American Academy of Pediatrics, citing how a pot conviction can ruin someone’s life early on, is calling for the decriminalization of marijuana while also concluding that some kids could benefit from medical use of the drug.  

Which recreational pot shop in Washington is the highest grossing (drum roll), it’s one right next Oregon.

In Ohio, activists are saying that a marijuana legalization initiative will “positively, absolutely be on the ballot” in 2015.

Apple says it won’t allow marijuana apps on its App Store.

After the feds announced last year that tribal governments can make their own pot laws, one tribe in Mendocino County, California (of course) will start growing its own medical marijuana.

Jamaica looks like it’s poised to decriminalize marijuana. Decriminalization is not the same as legalization, but still.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

WW: Spokane city councilman wants fewer weed-related explosions and diet weed and weed sex spray

Posted By on Wed, Jan 21, 2015 at 4:02 PM

Welcome back to Weed Wednesday, your weekly dose of pot news. Wondering what this is about? Click. Looking for our previous marijuana coverage? Click. Got a question or tip? Email me at [email protected]

One of the byproducts of the growing social acceptance of marijuana is exploding houses and cars.
Some marijuana users will pack the drug tightly into a glass tube or PVC pipe, pour butane through it and heat the mixture until it turns into a highly potent concentrate. But because butane is so highly flammable people have caused explosions while making the oil.

The problem has caught the attention of the New York Times, which ran an article on the problem on Saturday. It’s caught the attention of the Colorado attorney general, and, locally, it’s caught the attention of Councilman Jon Snyder who has introduced an ordinance that would ban the making of butane hash oil in Spokane.

“Don't do it at home; just don't,” says Snyder. “Find a professional to extract your hash oil. Just don't do it. People compare it to home brewing or home winemaking; it's not really a comparison.”
Jon Snyder is concerned about weed in cars and people blowing things up while making hash oil.
  • Jon Snyder is concerned about weed in cars and people blowing things up while making hash oil.

Snyder points to several instances where DIY butane hash oil operations have gone badly, and he says the issue is a matter of public safety

Under Snyder’s ordinance, only those with processing licenses could make butane hash oil and would they would also be required to get approved equipment, submit to an inspection and get a permit from Fire Department.

Snyder was also in Olympia last week to testify in favor of a bill that would require pot users to stow away their stash while in the car. Snyder says that the bill, which has some opposition, is supposed to mirror current laws that prohibit open containers of alcohol in cars.

“it's aimed at passengers,” he says. “You could say that if someone is smoking pot with the windows closed there’s a chance the driver could get a psychoactive effect from the second-hand smoke.”

He says it’s also aimed at potentially difficult situations where a police officer pulls over a marijuana-perfumed car where the passenger admits to smoking but the driver insists they’re sober.

Here’s the news elsewhere:

Marijuana businesses in states that have legalized pot have run up against a big problem: banks worried about legal risks won’t serve them. But one bank in Oregon is doing so anyway.

Another Colorado-based credit union is attempting to provide banking services to the weed industry.

Get ready for diet weed.

While you’re at it, get ready for weed sex spray.

The attorneys general of Nebraska and Oklahoma are suing Colorado for legalizing pot and allowing the drug to flood over its borders. The governor of Wyoming is considering suing the federal government for letting Colorado legalize pot in the first place.

A Washington couple were investigated for abuse because they smoke pot.

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Friday, January 16, 2015

Lawyer in Kettle Falls Five case moves to dismiss charges

Posted By on Fri, Jan 16, 2015 at 2:12 PM

The lawyer representing the Kettle Falls Five, an Eastern Washington family facing federal charges for growing medical marijuana, has filed a motion to dismiss the case.

The motion filed January 15 in U.S. District Court for Eastern Washington by Robert Fischer argues that a congressional spending bill, signed into law by the president, makes it clear that federal money should not be used to pursue cases against individuals who possess or grow pot under their state’s medical marijuana programs.

The case involves Larry Harvey, a man in his 70s who used medical pot to treat gout, and his family who were raided in 2013 by federal agents for growing medical marijuana on their property. The family was charged with growing and distributing marijuana under federal law, and they could each face 10 years in prison if convicted.

Their situation highlights an ongoing conflict between the 23 states that have medical marijuana laws and the federal government, which does not recognize the illicit drug as having any sort of legitimate use.

Late last year, Congress passed a spending bill that contained a bipartisan amendment that cut off funding for the U.S. Department of Justice for activities that would prevent these states from “implementing” their laws. There is some concern that the wording of the legislation is sufficiently vague to allow the feds to continue to pursue medical marijuana growers and patients, but the motion argues that the legislative intent of Congress is clear:

“[T]he basic premise that ‘medical marijuana’ has no currently accepted medical use at all, is now in conflict with congressional intent in passing the Act, as shown from the record of the floor debates providing reasons for the passage of the Act. 

Motion to Dismiss

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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

WW: New Airway Heights pot store; Nancy Grace versus 2 Chainz

Posted By on Wed, Jan 14, 2015 at 11:31 AM

Welcome back to Weed Wednesday, your weekly dose of pot news. Wondering what this is about? Click. Looking for our previous marijuana coverage? Click. Got a question or tip? Email me at: [email protected]

Airway Heights is getting a new member of the “I-502 family” called the Top Shelf.

The proprietor of the recreational marijuana shop is Florence Childs, an 80-year-old who opened it up on Saturday, January 10. Her family always told her that she was the luckiest person they knew. So when the lottery opened up for licenses, she decided to apply, drawing a license.

She doesn’t smoke any pot herself, but, she says, “I believe it’s here to stay, and I believe it does a lot of good.”

The store’s selection of bud is, for the moment, grown entirely in Spokane, Cheney and Liberty Lakes, says Jenn Bordoy, the store’s manager.

“I just think from having gone from a bartender to budtender that the local just does better with people,” she says.

The store sells marijuana-infused cookies for $12, grams ranging from $15 to $25 and half grams of concentrates that go for $20 to $40.

The Top Shelf, located at 1305 S. Hayford Road, is having its grand opening on Saturday, January 24. It’ll feature glass-blowers and local farmers who will be available with “sniffy jars” and answers about their products.

Childs and Bordoy stressed that they they don’t give any advice on medical marijuana or give out any samples. So don’t expect any.

Here’s the news:

Under federal law, marijuana is as bad as heroin or LSD. But a federal judge in California could challenge that.

Rumors are swirling in New York City that Mayor Bill de Blasio and his wife regularly smoke pot. Gawker reports that these rumors are coming from the police, who’ve had a frosty relationship with the mayor.

The Buckeye State might be next to legalize pot. 

Indiana lawmakers pushing for some sort of medical marijuana bill can’t get other legislators on board and it’s all the fault of states with more liberalized pot laws. 

About half of Michigan voters want to legalize pot.

Illinois has a medical marijuana law, but Pat Quinn, who recently left the governor’s office, didn’t allow a single license for growers or sellers despite vowing to do so. His successor, Republican Bruce Rauner, isn’t much groovier.

Lastly, here’s a video of Nancy Grace and 2 Chainz arguing about marijuana:

This post has been updated to reflect a new grand opening date for Top Shelf.

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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

WW: Potential changes to Washington's pot laws and how other states laws are working

Posted By on Wed, Jan 7, 2015 at 3:39 PM


Welcome back to Weed Wednesday, your weekly dose of pot news. Wondering what this is about? Click. Looking for our previous marijuana coverage? Click. Got a question or tip? Email me at [email protected]

In Washington state, the big news this week was proposed changes to the state’s medical marijuana system, which has been kept separate from the recreational system in order to ensure that patients have access to the drug. Lawmakers are set to gather in Olympia next week, and changes could be on the horizon for how pot is regulated in the state.

One bill proposed by Sen. Ann Rivers, R- La Center, would create new licenses for medical marijuana dispensaries who would be required to test the strength of their product in much the same way recreational pot is, reports The Associated Press. The bill would also only allow these stores to sell edibles and no smokable dried pot, pointing out that smoking is considered unhealthy. It would also place new restrictions on collective gardens used to grow medical pot.

A competing bill from state Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, would effectively merge the state’s medical and recreational systems together, an idea that was recently endorsed by Seattle’s city attorney and opposed by Seattle’s mayor.

However, medical marijuana advocates are reluctant to put both the two systems under one regulatory umbrella. Recreational marijuana is heavily taxed and patient advocates worry if the two systems are combined sick people who rely on the drug will have a harder time getting it. There are also concerns that patients won’t be able to get advice on the therapeutic effects of various strains at a recreational dispensary.

"Instead of trying to fit a square peg in a round hole by forcing medical marijuana into the adult-use program, policymakers should be adopting a regulatory framework that fully implements the state's 16-year-old medical use law, thereby better protecting and preserving the needs of patients," said Kari Boiter, Washington state coordinator for Americans for Safe Access, an organization that advocates on behalf of medical marijuana patients, in a prepared statement.

In other news:

Last month, the attorneys general of Oklahoma and Nebraska brought a lawsuit against Colorado asking the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down the state’s marijuana legalization law, arguing that weed was spilling across its borders. It turns out that some groovy Oklahoma lawmakers are telling their state’s AG to mellow out on the lawsuit - for state’s rights, of course.

Colorado has launched its “Good to Know” campaign that’s intended to educate people about the ins-and-outs of its marijuana law, reports USA Today. For instance, it’s good to know that you’re not supposed to give weed to kids or take it to states where it’s not legal.

Illinois’ medical marijuana program has been in effect for over a year, but only one person to date has used it.

States that have legalized marijuana, recreationally and medicinally, have created booms among certain industries. In New York state, it’s expected to give a boost to an unexpected industry: lobbyists.

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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

WEED WEDNESDAY: Year-end pot sales and fancy pot food

Posted By on Wed, Dec 31, 2014 at 11:02 AM

Welcome back to Weed Wednesday, your weekly dose of pot news. Wondering what this is about? Click. Looking for our previous marijuana coverage? Click. Got a question or tip? Email me at [email protected]

In July, pot stores opened up their doors as the retail portion of the state’s marijuana legalization initiative went into effect. Proponents of the initiative argued that legalizing marijuana would create new economic activity and provide money for state coffers. So how much money is there in the newly legitimate ganja business as the year comes to a close?

According to figures released just yesterday by the Washington State Liquor Control Board (the agency that oversees legal pot), there has been over $63 million in pot sales in the state, which generated nearly $16 million in taxes.

Those numbers have been trending upwards. In August, there was about $7 million in sales, which rose to $15 million by December.

In other news:

Now that President Barack Obama no longer has to worry about any upcoming elections, he’s taken bold actions on climate change and immigration. Surely he’ll do something similarly bold on marijuana legalization, like flying out to Washington or Colorado, firing up a doobie and calling for an all-out end to the drug war before dropping bales of pot out of Air Force One on this way home, right? At the very least he’ll call for marijuana legalization (in a very qualified and measured way), right?

No, he won’t. In an interview with the Huffington Post, Dan Pfeiffer, a White House senior adviser, said that Obama administration has “nothing” else planned on marijuana policy.

Remember Mike Gravel? He was a former U.S. senator from Alaska who read the top secret Pentagon Papers into the congressional record and ran a very cranky campaign for president in 2008. In a sign that marijuana culture is becoming increasingly mainstream, Gravel, an outspoken critic of the war on drugs, will now head up KUSH, a company that will develop and market cannabis products for the medicinal and recreational markets.

Washington D.C.’s new attorney general says that the district’s marijuana legalization law can go forward despite attempts by Congress to block it.

Colorado’s attorney general has issued an opinion finding that making hash oil at home is still illegal, reports The Cannabist. The opinion is based on the placement of a single comma in the amendment to Colorado’s Constitution that legalizes pot.

Pot food is about to get fancy, reports The New York Times.
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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Colorado's unhip neighbors file a lawsuit, and R.I.P. Joe Cocker

Posted By on Wed, Dec 24, 2014 at 11:05 AM

Welcome back to Weed Wednesday, your weekly dose of pot news. Wondering what this is about? Click. Looking for our previous marijuana coverage? Click. Got a question or tip? Email me at [email protected]

The big weed news this week was the attorneys general of Oklahoma and Nebraska filing a lawsuit asking the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down Colorado’s voter-approved law that legalizes marijuana, reports The Cannabist. The central gripe of the lawsuit is that legal weed is flowing from Colorado into the two neighboring states where law enforcement is using more resources to chase stoners. The lawsuit argues that marijuana is still illegal under federal law, and the nation’s top court should strike down Colorado’s legalization ballot initiative.

Speaking of Colorado, a campaign is being mounted to get a measure on the 2016 ballot that would, if passed, prohibit sheriffs from denying concealed carry permits to people because of pot use.

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge has ruled that a medical marijuana delivery service that uses a smartphone mobile app is illegal.

New research from analysts at Morgan Stanley have found that teens are more likely to light up joints than cigarettes, which could have big implications for the tobacco industry.

Looking to have a green Christmas? The Cannabist has a recipe for a ganjabread house.

Joe Cocker died this week. R.I.P.
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