Wednesday, October 1, 2014

WEED WEDNESDAY: Spokane testing sewage for THC? Not so much

Posted By on Wed, Oct 1, 2014 at 2:20 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

Slowly but surely, Washington. The state has now licensed 235 growers (up just two from last week) and 61 stores (four more than last week). Seattle's second store has finally opened and you can find Spokane's stores on a map here. Statewide sales as of Monday totaled $18.75 million, generating almost $4.7 million in state taxes.

Here in Spokane, there's been talk about the city government testing sewage for THC levels to see if more people are getting high now that it's legal (see this SR story and this KXLY piece and this one from KREM). I know. It makes a great headline, right? But here's the thing: No one is actually talking about doing this in Spokane. In a city council committee meeting last week where city and state leaders talked about good ways to measure the effects of marijuana legalization, I-502 author Alison Holcomb mentioned the tactic as a way to test usage levels because there are university researchers doing it on the westside (we told you about this back in July). “What an awesome new use for our sewage,” Councilman Jon Snyder said in response, cracking a smile.

That was it.

There is no actual plan to pursue this tactic in Spokane, Snyder tells the Inlander. He says since the comments got media attention, he's checked into the project in Tacoma and found that the researchers "are getting a $100,000 grant, plus they have a quarter-million dollars worth of equipment to do this, which is not cheap." Combine that with the fact that there's other data that's easier to get, and that the city is dealing with much bigger wastewater issues. Since this non-issue hit the local news, Snyder has even done interviews with Reuters and The Guardian about it, and says he's gotten angry calls from people worried the city is trying to figure out who's smoking pot.

"You know, you work on issues for years and try to get publicity for them, and it's funny how one offhanded comment in a meeting gets attention," Snyder says. "Nothing fascinates people like sewage and drugs, I guess."

Don't light up in your car. That's the message from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, which wants the state to ban people from opening marijuana inside vehicles, reports the Tacoma News Tribune. When we talked to legal experts, including the chief author of I-502 this summer, we were told it's not legal to have marijuana open inside a vehicle because that's considered in view of the public, but the Traffic Safety Commission wants more explicit language inked into law.

Oregon's legalization campaign has launched its first TV ad, featuring a retired cop who says the time he and other officers spent on marijuana cases would be "better spent solving murders, rape cases [and] finding missing children." Watch the ad below.

Washington pot lawyer Hilary Bricken says "'pay to play' is going to be the new theme for Oregon’s recreational marijuana industry" as cities there start imposing taxes before the measure is even passed.

Biologists say water use in the Emerald Triangle — an area of Northern California and Southern Oregon where a ton of pot is grown for medical users and the black market — is threatening salmon already in danger of extinction, reports the AP.

It's a big week in Colorado. Back when the recreational industry started there in January, medical marijuana dispensary owners were given a head start to open recreational stores. Now, everyone else can get into the business, with 46 new stores licensed. And the Colorado State Supreme Court heard the case this week of a quadriplegic Dish Network employee who was fired from his job after he tested positive for pot, even though there's no evidence he was high on the job, reports the Denver Post. The decision could have big implications for states where medical marijuana is legal but employers continue to ban it.

ICYMI: Attorney General Eric Holder, who recently said Americans should consider rescheduling marijuana, resigned (via The Cannabist and Politico).

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About The Author

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...