Wednesday, May 28, 2014

WEED WEDNESDAY: Bans, banking and pot at the symphony

Posted By on Wed, May 28, 2014 at 3:16 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].

Sorry, Portlanders planning your road trips into Washington for weed. You'll have to drive a little farther. Growing, processing and selling marijuana is now banned in unincorporated parts of Clark County.

As Washington continues plodding toward the beginning of its recreational marijuana market — the first stores are expected to be licensed and open in early July — the Washington State Liquor Board is anticipating questions about marketing and advertising. So, they're asking hopeful licensees to send their questions to [email protected] by July 1. (A few examples from WSLCB: Can I sell T-shirts with my company’s tradename and logo on them? Can I sponsor a community event using my tradename and logo? Can I set up a separate business to promote my marijuana retail store?) The Liquor Board is right to anticipate this will be a big issue. In Colorado, newspaper advertising has already spurred a lawsuit. We wrote about the issue back in February here.

Also in the "we need to figure this out" category: banking. Yes, it's still an issue. This week, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper sent the feds another letter seeking further and faster guidance on this issue. While the feds earlier this year advised banks that those serving above-board marijuana operations would not be a high priority for federal enforcement, banks are hesitant since the law still allows them to be prosecuted for supporting what remains a federally illegal industry.

The much anticipated first installment of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra's "Classically Cannabis" series happened Friday. Sounds like there was plenty of pot and even a Beatles cover. But a critic from Denver's alt, Westword, asks why we're even making such a big deal about this.

Also in Denver: It turns out people are totally willing to turn over their pot when asked to by airport officials. According to The Cannabist, the Denver airport has stopped just 10 people for trying to take marijuana through security and they all cooperated when asked to dispose of the weed.

Here's a term you should remember: "the Mendocino model." That's because what's happening in Mendocino County, California, and how it shakes out could set an example for how marijuana prosecutions may be treated in California and elsewhere in the future. There, the district attorney has begun offering restitution ($50 per plant, $500 per pound of processed marijuana) to people charged with marijuana felonies. The process allows them to plead to a misdemeanor and get probation if they pay the restitution. Supporters say it saves time and raises cash for law enforcement. Others argue it creates a dangerous precedent that favors rich defendants over the poor and encourages officers to go after targets with the biggest potential yield. Read more from the LA Times.

click to enlarge WEED WEDNESDAY: Bans, banking and pot at the symphony
That's what 500 pounds of marijuana looks like.

In North Carolina, Police say someone accidentally sent 500 pounds of marijuana to an auto shop. Oops.

A small group of U.S. representatives is pushing a bill to overturn the federal government's ban on marijuana and a separate amendment to stop federal interference with state medical marijuana law. Major federal marijuana policy change is unlikely to happen this year, but the lawmakers say they believe the tide is turning. Read more from USA Today and the Drug Policy Alliance.

"Everything has to be geared toward undercutting the black market." Those were the words of a contractor who's developing the tax structure for Uruguay's new marijuana market, reports Reuters. The country will allow customers to buy cannabis from licensed sellers tax-free with hopes of competing with black market pot from nearby countries.

Finally, check out this New York Times profile of a massive cannabis operation (inside an old Hershey factory) in Canada, where the government is creating a national medical marijuana market.

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Heidi Groover

Heidi Groover is a staff writer at the Inlander, where she covers city government and drug policy. On the job, she's spent time with prostitutes, "street kids," marriage equality advocates and the family of a 16-year-old organ donor...