Center for Legal Cannabis

Legal Cannabis Week #2

Ric Smith, 1963-2012

Medical marijuana advocate Ric Smith passed away Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at the age of 49. Smith – who battled cancer in numerous forms since childhood, contracted HIV from a blood transfusion at age 23, and suffered liver failure from HIV medications that required him to undergo years of weekly dialysis – was an ever-present leader in the Washington State medical cannabis community since the late '90s.

In 2010, the Seattle Weekly named Ric Smith "Best Hero to the Housebound" in it's annual "Best of Seattle" series. The article gives a brief history of Ric's involvement in the Washington cannabis community.

Best of Seattle 2010: Ric Smith
Best Hero to the Housebound

I knew Ric Smith. I talked with Stitch today, and he said he couldn't recall when he met Ric, that Ric had always been around. That's my memory too. I can't recall the first time I met Ric Smith; I've known him as long as I can recall.

I knew Ric from vigils and protests and letters he wrote. I knew him as budcando@hotmail.com on hemp-talk and other mailing lists. I knew him through Hempfest and later through the Cannabis Defense Coalition.

I count him among a small number of constants in our community. Not like a mathematical constant; I always knew Ric was, like all of us, a temporal certainty. In the years I knew him, he was near death a half dozen times it seemed. One year at Hempfest I thought him so close to death, shit you not, that I loaned him my library-borrowed copy of Tuesdays with Morrie, worried that maybe he hadn't prepared for this journey. I remember the barrel-chested lovable bear named Meril helping him from a wheelchair to his sketchy mid-90s american town car with the medical marijuana stickers – I think I called them "pull me over" stickers, and he said "another opportunity to educate police." I wondered if I would ever see him again and what the maximum library fines are in Seattle.

But Ric Smith kept living, despite my concern that he might be dying. Over and over, it seemed. I almost thought him invincible, despite existing so often at the precipice of death. It was like he lived near the edge of our world, the very last waterfall on the river of life, where the current is powerful and fate is near certain, but that was fine with him because he had little choice in the matter and he was a strong swimmer anyway.

Ric was among a small number of people that have supported most every activist project I have ever undertaken, both with his internal energy and usually around $20 to $100 in federal currency per project. I felt such injustice after witnessing the conviction of medical cannabis patient Sharon Tracy, I proposed a multi-county mailer attacking the judge while ranting in the motel parking lot. Meril – Ric's caregiving sidekick until the motorcycle accident in 2007 – offered me $100 cash on the spot, making me realize that not only did my parking lot rhetoric inspire people to action, but I needed to go all the way on this one or shut my mouth.

Ric kicked down for that project, and for a great many others: he helped pay for posters, lodging for medical cannabis trials and legislative hearings, plane tickets to get valuable people to valuable events, gas for activists to attend meetings and trials, etc. He was one of a handful of people who showed up at a meeting in my living room to launch the state's first one-member, one-vote cooperative cannabis activism experiment. He was member #007 of the Cannabis Defense Coalition.

Honestly, he could've been assigned any number between two and eight, but it seemed to me at the time – and still does – that among all of us, he was the most like 007 James Bond: able to move between different fora and cultural strata with relative ease, having a deep knowledge of local history and politics – the local terrain – and also racking up more technical felonies than most in the room, for which he was granted immunity – license - by his righteousness, his fearlessness and his usual location living on the precipice of death. If that wasn't reason enough, he was usually best dressed of us all, and his cane contained a laser ray gun. He deserved #007.

Ric wore his heart on his sleeve, as the old saying goes. He said what he thought, often without filter. I frequently wished he would wait until noon to put on his heart-sleeve jacket – like damn Ric, must we all wake up to pages of irrational chat room scroll back? He had a good view of the bigger picture, but could not help getting agitated by details large and small. He was friend to everybody, and at one point he was annoyed with each of them for something and probably made a snippy comment or two. But he usually got over it pretty quick, and so did everybody; it was easy to forgive Ric, his positive intent was usually quite clear.

I visited Ric on Monday night, motivated by a sense of selfishness and duty more than any belief that my presence might be helpful in Ric's final days. I am open to being helpful, but I mostly imagine I'm there to steal from him a final memory for my own benefit. He looked as alive as I'd often seen him over the years, despite the pain-med-induced difficulty focusing and finding words. Yet something in his body's core was failing him; it had run out of smoke.

I can't know what he was thinking, but at one point I saw an upward, tear-filled glance and I thought him holding back angry sobs. My mind saw a stark picture of a indomitable soul that survived nearly four decades clawing for physical survival, who because of deep personal knowledge of the preciousness and uncertainty of life chose to fill his every moment with intentional work, friends and family. It seemed like he wasn't ready to give up, that he knew his spirit was strong, and that meshing that abundant energy with the understanding that one of his parts had inevitably failed him was difficult, at best.

He knew it was coming for decades, but he had put it off so many times before. Yet this was it, when strength of spirit gives way to the inherent limitations of physical form. This is a life moment around which I personally have some trepidation – I am concerned that I may not elegantly come to terms with my own mortality in a timely fashion – and I can only imagine Ric, with bountiful spirit and years of false alarm preparation, performed admirably.

I remember Meril's funeral at the fire circle at Camp Parsons on the peninsula where his wife Melody, Ric, and members of the Skykomish tribe – of which Meril was an honorary member – performed a funeral dance and chanting that went on for a good long while. The Skykomish explained their belief that when a person dies, their soul travels from this world to another realm, and that transition is by no means immediate, it can take a great amount of time. That journey is also affected by souls in this world through intentional energy, for them best expressed through dance and chanted prayer, but effective through most any energy form or medium I imagine.

I don't pretend to know, but I always allow for the possibility that my loved ones may appreciate or need my help at this moment in their journey as much as at any point during their worldly life. And so I offer my prayers with more focus – in every hummed or pianoed tune, in my thoughts about others, in the lightness of my visioning and the intention of my labor – I try to imagine that some sliver of the positive energy I generate slides over the waterfall at the edge of the world and helps Ric navigate safely onward.

I knew Ric Smith, and for that I am ever grateful.

Colorado legalizes cannabis

On Monday, Governor John Hickenlooper proclaimed Amendment 64 the law of the Colorado land. The governor had until January 5, but did it without fanfare or announcement which, the Washington Post noted, "prevented a countdown to legalization as seen in Washington, where the law’s supporters gathered to smoke in public to celebrate."

The governor also announced the makeup of a 24-member task force which will make recommendations on implementing the new law by March. The Denver Post listed the members of the panel.

Liquor board opens rulemaking process

And they're off. On December 5, 2012 the Washington State Liquor Control Board filed a Notice of Rulemaking "to begin implementing Initiative 502 by writing rules to implement marijuana producer licenses and their requirements." The notice continues:

"Rules are needed to implement Initiative 502. New license types were created with specific requirements. Rules are needed to clarify the new laws created in Initiative 502. This rulemaking will address rules regarding marijuana producer licenses and the requirements for those licenses. Additional rulemaking will be filed at a later date to address the other new licenses created in the initiative."

Public comment will be accepted through February 10, 2013. Comments may be emailed to rules@liq.wa.gov, faxed to 360-664-9689 or mailed to Box 43080, Olympia, WA 98504. Here is what WSLCB writes about the upcoming process:

The Liquor Control Board encourages you to give input on the rules. The Rules Coordinator will set up at least two meetings to collect stakeholder input prior to drafting proposed rules. The meeting schedules will be posted on the LCB website once the dates are established. Following the comment period, the agency will send out and publish proposed rules, establish a comment period on the proposed rules, and hold at least one public hearing before rules are adopted.

If you did not find out about this on December 5, and you care, get on the LCB-I502 email list. Remember the web site is liq.wa.gov/marijuana and check it occasionally. On December 6, WSLCB issued a new 502 FAQ which indicates they intend to license producers mid-year 2013, with retail licenses coming late 2013 at the earliest.

I-502 zoning map for King County released

Center for Legal Cannabis publicly announces its I-502 Zoning Map. This is the same map provided to attendees of the zoning lecture given last month by Ben Livingston. The map includes five of eight layers listed in Initiative 502 Section 6(8). We hope to produce the remaining layers in upcoming weeks.

Working media are encouraged to contact us via email or, better yet, by calling Ben at 206-335-9214.

We are seeking sponsors for our mapping project. This work is valuable to the legal cannabis community and our maps are generating increased traffic each week. If you are interested in a sponsorship link on our maps and web site, please contact center@legalcannabis.us.

The local week in review

Superintendent of Public Schools Randy Dorn issued a press release about marijuana claiming "recent anecdotal reports from school districts suggest an increase in marijuana possession" among youth without revealing any of his anecdotal evidence.

Some commentators were so annoyed by celebratory public pot smoking that they regret voting to legalize cannabis.

The city of Maple Valley approved an ordinance creating a civil infraction for public view or consumption of cannabis, perhaps similarly nonplussed with celebratory public pot smoking.

Jimmy Carter said pot legalization is okay.

An Olympia members-only club for cigarette smokers is allowing pot smoking now.

A lawsuit by anti-502 leaders to toss out the legalization initiative was tossed out by a judge last Friday. Some observers suggested the state may not have seriously considered the challenge, offering no support to its arguments that it denies plaintiff's points. Plaintiff vowed to take it to the Supreme Court.

Eastern Washington farmers may be uncertain about pot growing, but one eastern Washingtonian thinks wine and weed tours are the future.

Where are the hemp entrepreneurs?

Hemp is legal under Washington State law. Many folks respond to this news with a dreamy "we should buy some land in eastern Washington."

Yes, someone should grow large fields of hemp in eastern Washington. But that seems a bit uncertain. To create necessary "industrial" hemp infrastructure, we'll need large-scale investments in an industry that carries catastrophic risk potential from many angles – will the feds do you like they did Alex White Plume, who will process this stuff, where will they obtain the necessary machinery?

Rolling fields in eastern Washington are picturesque, to be sure, but they are also easy targets, visible, anything but nimble pieces on an uncertain chess board. What if we think outside that box?

What about hemp sprouts? Could this be the most expensive vegetable product one can buy at a neighborhood farmer's market next summer? Or maybe in my salad at a high end restaurant? What's the most expensive sprout on the market – broccoli, sunflower, chia? Could I get hemp sprouts for ten times that? Or less?

Hemp sprouts can be grown all year round under grow lights. Imagine converting an indoor ganja farm to a hemp sprout farm. Can one overcome the hurdles – sourcing seed stock certain to flower with less than .3% THC content (or effectively bypassing the legal concern about flowering marijuana), producing enough product on a rolling basis, successfully selling what may be a ridiculously priced product to start?

If any cannabis or cannabis product contains .3% or less THC, it is not "marijuana" for purposes of Washington State law. Cannabis seeds generally contain .3% or less THC, meaning we effectively legalized the cannabis seed industry. How about that?

Possibilities abound in the legal hemp industries of Washington State. Center for Legal Cannabis is promoting the development of this nascent industry. To that end we are interested in networking on this topic with like-minded individuals – the hemptrepreneurs of tomorrow. Let us know as much or as little as your comfortable telling us, if you're able and willing to speak with media, and any other relevant info.


Sean Cecil, Attorney Canna Law Group