Center for Legal Cannabis

Legal Cannabis Week #18

Liquor board targets private pot clubs

The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board started emergency rulemaking to disallow pot in members-only smoking clubs. This move came after party-crashing Governor Jay Inslee got hot and bothered by a Gene Johnson AP story about two such establishments.

The liquor board press release quotes agency head Sharon Foster concluding two things:

  • "It is important that the board clarify now that consuming marijuana in a state liquor-licensed establishment is not acceptable."
  • "Public consumption of marijuana is clearly illegal under Washington’s new law."

Public consumption of marijuana is indeed illegal, but a private club is not actually a public place. While state officials paint a picture of public pot consumption in bars throughout the state, the actual issue is so-called private clubs that allow indoor smoking. Frankie's in Olympia has allowed cigarette smoking for years, and recently began allowing pot, too. Last week, news broke of a pizza joint in Tacoma joining the private club fray.

This led to hyper-concern by the governor and immediate action by his liquor board, with enforcement chief Justin Nordhorn stating, quite ridiculously, that “once people are aware this is a business model they’re going to be popping up all over the place.”

The private club loophole is no recently-uncovered secret. Frankie's is perhaps the most well-known, having stood up for nasty habits in court several times since voters banned indoor smoking in 2005. Other private smoking clubs have operated, and continue to operate, throughout the state since then, and even the Attorney General's Office opined that a private club with no employees was exempt from the indoor smoking ban.

The suggestion that bar owners everywhere are going to hear this "new" idea and promptly turn a portion of their building into a members-only smoking area is simply unfounded. Because, as it turns out, most people don't want to hang out in smoky bars that have no employees. The market is somewhat self-limiting.

Legislative weed watch

  • Chris Hurst is b-a-a-a-a-ck! His proposal to increase legal pot licensing fees is scheduled for executive session in the Hurst-controlled Government Accountability committee.
  • Washington legislators are on track to pass a new per-se DUI law for boaters. Nobody in the cannabis community officially testified against the bill.
  • The bill disallowing pot purchases with electronic benefit cards (food stamps) may have hit a snag.

HB 2000 | NTIB: Increase cannabis license fees

  • APR 11: Scheduled for executive session in House Government Accountability Apr 11 @ 9:30am.

SB 5437 | Cannabis boating DUI

  • APR 4: Cleared Senate (47-0-2). Cleared House Public Safety and House Appropriations and sent to House Rules for second reading.

HB 1888 | Industrial hemp

  • APR 4: House Appropriations held public hearing.

SB 5010 | No pot on probation

  • APR 3: Cleared Senate (49-0). Cleared House Public Safety and sent to Senate Rules for second reading.

HB 1808 | Walmart may dispose found pot

  • APR 2: Cleared House (97-0-1). Senate Rules made eligible for floor vote.

HB 1723 | I-502 general funds to early learning

  • MAR 29: Cleared House (59-38-1). Cleared Senate Early Learning and referred to Senate Ways and Means.

SB 5887 | NTIB: Dispensary licensing through liquor board

  • MAR 28: Referred to Senate Ways and Means.

SB 5279 | No pot for food stamps

  • MAR 26: Cleared Senate (39-10). House Human Services held public hearing, but no executive session scheduled.

Week in review

David Ahl and Seth Simpson encountered zoning problems when trying to open a dispensary in Bellevue.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife biologists wondered if outdoor marijuana poisons are endangering fishers.

Colorado company My 420 Tour offers some of the nation's first cannatourism packages.

Hydroponics companies see dollar signs in Washington State.

The U.S. Department of Personnel intends to clarify that employees must report state-legal pot use to them.

Rhode Island decriminalized cannabis.

Seattle police admonished street dealers in the U-District.

The U.S. Department of Justice indicted eight suspected pot-ring participants in Bellingham.

Unlicensed pot sellers say legal pot doubled their Central Washington business.

Blue Horizon authorization clinic hopes to keep medical pot separated from legal pot.

Cannabis hero Keith Stroup published a memoir on 40 years of pot activism.

Colorado pot shops encounter difficult decisions at tax time.

The Amsterdam City Council called for legalized cannabis cultivation.

Pseudonymous writer William Breathes reflects on pot reviewing.

KPLU covered my petition to let cops use pot.

Pew Research Center reports a majority of Americans now support cannabis legalization.


Sean Cecil, Attorney Canna Law Group