Wednesday, July 1, 2015

WW: Legal weed law tweaks good for pretty much all parties

Posted By on Wed, Jul 1, 2015 at 2:59 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

Vicki Christophersen, executive director of the weed lobby group Washington CannaBusiness Association (WACA), has been wrangling hard all legislative session for a solution to many of the I-502 kinks — crazy taxes, fewer retailers than anticipated, grey market medical marijuana dispensaries — that have threatened the future of the nascent marijuana industry. “If House Bill 2136 doesn’t pass, the industry is not sustainable,” marijuana producer Cip Paulsen told the Inlander last week. The industry got its solution yesterday when Gov. Jay Inslee signed HB 2136 into law, modifying several aspects of I-502 and eliciting a collective sigh of relief from stakeholders across the board.

"As of today there is 37 percent point-of-sale tax on all product," wrote Christophersen in an email message sent to WACA members this morning. "This is likely to be a little clunky as the transition occurs."

The most important bits of HB 2136:

No more double-tax scenario: A 37 percent tax will be tacked on at point-of-sale. "Tax used to be counted towards income," says Liquor Control Board Communications Director Brian Smith. "It's really going to help the bottom line for producers, processors and retailers." 

Cities are winners, too: The state will start sharing revenue with local jurisdictions; this should lift moratoriums and bring shops to markets where they've been frozen out.

More retail shops: The buffer zone around retail shops was reduced from 1000 feet to 100 feet, so more of the licensed shops should be able to find locations and open up. This is a big deal for customers (options!), retail license holders who haven't opened and producers and processors, who currently outnumber retail outlets and have been struggling to ply their wares.

Medical marijuana patients: Card-carrying patients will eventually be able to flash their credentials and buy weed tax-free at recreational shops. Shops will have to get a special license before they can sell to them, though, and it's unclear how far out that is or how many shops will bother. Meanwhile, many dispensaries are closing up shop. 

A few things that won't be happening: You won't be cruising through a marijuana drive-thru, frequenting a weed club or buying joints from a vending machine. Those things are specifically banned. 

With the tax-burden lifted and restrictions loosened, the recreational-weed gold rush many anticipated may materialize yet. 

Here's the news elsewhere:

Beginning today, marijuana is legal in Oregon. Here’s a guide on what’s legal and what’s not. The Portland police have also issued a video on what’s legal and what’s not. They’re also running extra DUI patrols throughout the month of July.

Wanna know where the 2016 presidential candidates stand on pot? The Marijuana Policy Project has issued a report card, grading each hopeful on their ganja-friendliness.

Kentucky senator and presidential hopeful Rand Paul, who received the highest grade from the MPP, is actively courting the legal marijuana industry for campaign donations.

A campaign to legalize marijuana in Ohio has turned in twice the number of required signatures to qualify for the ballot. However, lawmakers are attempting to undermine the proposal.

In California, you can now get a medical marijuana card using your smart phone.

In an opinion piece in the Washington Times, Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch supports allowing families with epileptic children to access cannabidiol oil.

Don’t get your dog stoned.

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