Center for Legal Cannabis

Legal Cannabis Week #7

Rulemaking public forums start next Tuesday

It seems like only yesterday that we became the first state in the world to legalize cannabis for all adults. Time moves fast, and next week the Washington State Liquor Control Board will begin holding public forums about I-502 implementation.

All events are comprised of an open house at 6 p.m., welcome at 7 p.m. and public testimony from 7:15 p.m.

Remember that under the tentative timeline, the last day for initial public input is February 10, 2013. Easiest way to comment is by email to rules@liq.wa.gov.

Liquor board opens bidding for cannabis consultant

It turns out our state's most adept rum runners don't know the marijuana market. A recognition of one's own ignorance tends to be an outward sign of one's intelligence, so kudos to the rum runners on that.

The liquor board issued a Request for Proposals for a cannabis consultant. This entity will help them understand 1) product and industry knowledge, 2) quality standards and testing, 3) product usage and consumption rates and 4) laws about cannabis.

All bidders must register through the state's online bidding system WEBS. A pre-proposal conference is scheduled for January 30, 2013 at 11 a.m. Final deadline for proposals is February 15, 2013 at 2 p.m.

Reticent as we are to register new accounts, we obtained the bid documents and made them readily available. It is important to note that bidders must register with the WEBS system, which may serve up amendments to the RFP in the future — meaning our hosted documents may be out of date, so don't rely on them as authoritative. Authoritative documents come only from the WEBS system.

State's largest credit union opposes legal pot industry

Most banks refuse business from medical marijuana dispensaries and businesses that flout federal law. Two months after Washington voters legalized marijuana, the state's largest credit union is going a step further and refusing to do business with companies who support Washington State's upcoming legal pot industry.

Ben Livingston discovered the policy on January 17 when he opened a business account at Boeing Employees Credit Union. Livingston makes maps to visualize zoning regulations found in I-502, which forbids the state from licensing marijuana stores near schools and other places children congregate.

After a BECU employee opened an account for his map-making business — called the Center for Legal Cannabis — a manager stepped in and put the kibosh on the new account. "He told me the credit union will refuse accounts for any company whose work could support legal cannabis businesses the state intends to license later this year," Livingston said.

The manager explained that the policy was "an internal thing" and a recent creation. When asked to see the policy in writing, the manager printed a small section of internal policies that state BECU will not open accounts for medical marijuana dispensaries or businesses. Asked how such language applies to a zoning researcher, the bank manager said that any business with "cannabis" in its name, or whose work supports the legal cannabis industry, will have their accounts closed at BECU.

Livingston, who is also founder of the Cannabis Defense Coalition activist group, pointed out that the nonprofit has banked at BECU for years without issue. "The manager responded by threatening to close the organization's accounts if I wanted to press the issue."

For now, Livingston says, he just hopes to cash a check from Brown Paper Tickets — entrance fees from a zoning lecture he gave two months ago. He created a web site to document his experience, and is asking BECU to clarify its position. "It is unfair for BECU to punish members who wish to help the state implement I-502. It's frustrating too, but at the end of the day I'd still like to bank with a credit union."

Week in review

Bremerton banned medical cannabis collectives.

The state Code Reviser's Office updated RCW 69.50.

The rebooted Washington Cannabis Association hired lobbyists Ezra Eickmeyer and Tammy Warnke, while the Coalition for Cannabis Standards and Ethics snagged lobbyist Lonnie Johns-Brown.

Cannabis hero Steve Fagar beat the federally-funded Olympic Peninsula Narcotics Enforcement Team in their four-year persecution. At 12:06 and 4:20, the meek raised glass to honor his staying power, his ability to patiently wait.

Anti-502 blogger Steve Elliott was arrested for assault. He subsequently posted on Facebook that he was fired by Village Voice Media.

The High Times Cannabis Cup is planned for America now that pot is more legal here than Amsterdam.

Anti-pot legislator Chris Hurst chairs the committee that will oversee pot legislation.

Washington State Patrol intends to spend millions to destroy illegal cannabis this year. Dude, why not just get a processor license? Turn that expense into a revenue.

Edmunds.com tackled the subject of DUI and pot safety. The general recommendation seems to be this: wait until you don't feel high as a kite before driving a vehicle.

Washington ski resorts are usually on federal land. so pot ain't super legal while snowboarding.

The Netherlands damaged their cannatourism industry before ditching a mandatory pot card program in favor of city-by-city policies.

Colorado might legalize industrial hemp, just like we did in Washington State.

Unreported news

Earlier this month, Whitman County prosecutors dropped charges against medical cannabis activist Adam Assenberg because the Appeals Court covering eastern Washington ruled last month that medical cannabis is not probable cause for arrest. Who woulda thunk arrest protection would hit Spokane before Seattle?

Snohomish County declined to file charges after the Snohomish County Jail accidentally killed Michael Saffioti, a 22-year-old incarcerated last July on a bench warrant for misdemeanor marijuana possession. Mourners honored the dead with a pipe full of humble outrage and prayer.

Aaron Swartz, 1986-2013

This week the internet mourns the loss of programming whiz and open government advocate Aaron Swartz, who last week was found hanged in his Brooklyn apartment.

Aaron caught the ire of the feds by visiting the federal law library in Chicago and legally downloading millions of public records from PACER with the intent of making them publicly available — public records from federal courts usually cost 8 cents per page no matter what.

As a researcher at Harvard, Swartz was provided access to the JSTOR repository of academic journal articles. He downloaded about 4 million of these articles from a network wiring closet at MIT, leading to what many call vindictive prosecution by the federal government under charges of wire fraud, computer fraud and unlawfully obtaining information from a protected computer. Facing up to 35 years in prison and $1 million in fines, the weight of his world was apparently too heavy for Aaron Swartz to bear.

In an ironic twist, shortly before Swartz's death, JSTOR announced their intent to make publicly available nearly 4.5 million academic journal articles, about the same number Aaron downloaded. Calling themselves a member of the internet community, they issued a public statement mourning his death. The feds are defending their prosecutorial choices, others are responding and the New York Times has an obit.

Thank you, Aaron Swartz, for your positive contribution in support of an open society.


Sean Cecil, Attorney Canna Law Group