Jan 22

Colorado Lessons: Marijuana Costs Cross County Lines

Like Washington State, Colorado is seeking ways to limit the unintended consequences of the retail marijuana industry. As Washington prepares for another round of marijuana debates in the legislature, some important lessons can be learned from our Rocky Mountain neighbors. For one, that the retail marijuana industry has far reaching social costs that are showing up all across Colorado, not just in those counties with retail marijuana sales.

This post in Denver Westward points out that the social costs of cannabis are crossing county lines in Colorado into areas that have banned retail marijuana. The post points out that “banned” counties are experiencing the same increase in arrests, traffic violations, and other new demands on law enforcement seen in regions open to the industry. Other unexpected costs in these areas include those associated with additional demands on child welfare and social services linked to marijuana. There are also calls for additional funding for youth education/ prevention campaigns and additional services in counties without a visible industry footprint.


Map of Colorado Counties

As Washington State considers legislation to mitigate the impact of legal marijuana, it is important to consider all the hidden social costs. For example, when debating “pay to play” funding that rewards only those cities and counties that DO NOT BAN marijuana with a share of tax proceeds, one should consider lessons learned in Colorado– that the true costs of the retail marijuana industry do not stop at the city or county line.



Jan 20

Marijuana Arrests and Social Justice

An important feature of the marijuana legalization debate centers on the issue of social justice and the disproportionate arrest rates of people of color and in communities of color. Legalization proponents argued that legalizing simple marijuana possession for adults will have a tangible benefit in this arena. Hopefully so. But does this really get at the root cause of the issue?

One has to ask, will creating a recreational marijuana industry really have a net positive impact on the issue of social justice? Will communities of color where marijuana retail stores are opening in greater numbers somehow be immune to the kind of negative consequences they already face from high-density alcohol and tobacco stores? What about addiction rates, crimes against persons, and health consequences? What will the effect be on youth for whom possession remains illegal?

Here is an interview with Project SAM Director, Dr. Kevin Sabet, who calls into question the wisdom of legalizing marijuana to reduce the number of unfair drug arrests. He points out that legalization, and the “Big Tobacco 2.0″ it will create, has far reaching negative effects for all communities, and we all should be paying attention.

Although we may have removed adult marijuana possession as a vehicle for institutionalized oppression, we need to remain vigilant to its continued influence on all Washington communities.

Jan 19

Marijuana Arrests and Social Justice

An important feature of the marijuana legalization debate centers on the issue of social justice and the disproportionate arrest rates of people of color and in communities of color. Legalization proponents argued that legalizing simple marijuana possession for adults will have a tangible benefit in this arena. Hopefully so. But does this really get at the root cause of the issue?

One has to ask, will creating a recreational marijuana industry really have a net positive impact on the issue of social justice? Will communities of color where marijuana retail stores are opening in greater numbers somehow be immune to the kind of negative consequences they already face from high-density alcohol and tobacco stores? What about addiction rates, crimes against persons, and health consequences? What will the effect be on youth for whom possession remains illegal?

Here is an interview with Project SAM Director, Dr. Kevin Sabet, who calls into question the wisdom of legalizing marijuana to reduce the number of unfair drug arrests. He points out that legalization, and the “Big Tobacco 2.0″ it will create, has far reaching negative effects for all communities, and we all should be paying attention.

 

Although we may have removed adult marijuana possession as a vehicle for institutionalized oppression, we need to remain vigilant to its continued influence on all Washington communities.

 

Dec 04

WA superior court judges rule that local governments can ban marijuana businesses

On December 4, 2014, a fourth superior court judge concluded that nothing in Initiative 502 overrides local governments’ authority to regulate or ban marijuana businesses. Every court to consider this issue has now agreed.

This most recent ruling came from Cowlitz County Superior Court Judge Michael Evans in the case of Emerald Enterprises LLC & John M Larson v. Clark County. Because the case was against Clark County itself, the plaintiffs chose to file in neighboring Cowlitz County. The plaintiffs in the case sought to open a marijuana business in Clark County despite the county’s ban on such businesses. A formal opinion released by the WA Attorney General’s Office in January 2014 concluded that, as drafted, I-502 does not prevent cities and counties from banning marijuana businesses.  

Judge Evans is now the fourth judge to agree with the AGO opinion that nothing in Initiative 502 overrides local governments’ authority to regulate or ban marijuana businesses. This ruling follows Benton County Superior Court Judge Vic VanderSchoor’s ruling in November in a similar case involving the City of Kennewick, Chelan County Superior Court Judge T.W. Small’s ruling in October in a similar case involving the City of Wenatchee and Pierce County Superior Court Judge Ronald Culpepper’s ruling in August in a similar case involving the City of Fife. If courts continue to agree with the AGO opinion that I-502 does not require local governments and counties to allow marijuana businesses, they will not need to decide in these cases whether federal law preempts I-502. This allows I-502 to continue to be implemented.

Nov 25

Free webinar: Secure medicine take-back: Local solutions through extended producer responsibility laws

The California Product Stewardship Council (CPSC) is hosting a free webinar:

Secure Medicine Take-Back: Local Solutions Through Extended Producer Responsibility Laws
Tuesday, December 2, 9:00 – 10:00 a.m.


Medicine return programs are part of a multi-pronged approach to preventing youth prescription and over-the-counter medicine abuse.  

In this webinar, CPSC brings together key local government officials and experts to share their experiences on how they passed local producer responsibility ordinances for pharmaceuticals, including King County’s. This webinar will educate and provide tools to any advocate or government official interested in learning how producers and others in the product chain can share in the cost and responsibility for managing their products at end of life and the role of government in oversight of producer run programs. 

Webinar Agenda

9:00 Welcome – Lynn France, CPSC Board Chair

9:05 What is Producer Responsibility for Medicine Collection? – David Stitzal, Full Circle Environmental

9:10 Why EPR is a Policy to Consider for Safe Medicine Disposal? – Heidi Sanborn

9:15 Status of Pharmaceutical Industry Legal Challenge to Alameda County Ordinance – Kathleen Pacheco, Senior Deputy County Counsel, Alameda County

9:20 Alameda County, CA Safe Drug Disposal Ordinance – Bill Pollock, Alameda County Household Hazardous Waste Program Manager

9:30 King County, WA Secure Medicine Return Ordinance – Margaret Shield, Local Hazardous Waste Management Program in King County

9:40 City/Co of San Francisco, CA Safe Drug Disposal Stewardship Ordinance Development – Maggie Johnson, San Francisco Department of the Environment

9:45 Other Local Options and Tools for Increasing Safe Medicine Disposal – Heidi

9:50 Questions and Answers

Nov 13

Marijuana edibles in WA

The Liquor Control Board (LCB) recently proposed new rules to govern what types of marijuana-infused foods they will allow to be made (processed) and sold as part of Washington’s recreational marijuana system.  The LCB does not regulate the medical marijuana market so these rules only apply to the recreational (I-502) market. 


To learn more about medical and recreational marijuana-infused foods, watch the story KCTS recently broadcast about these growing markets.

Nov 13

Preventing teen marijuana use: What works

What programs are most effective for preventing teen marijuana use?  That question is being studied by the Washington State Institute for Public Policy (WSIPP) which recently released an updated review of scientific evidence about prevention programs.  They reviewed 23 youth marijuana prevention and treatment programs  and categorized them as “evidence-based”, “research-based”, or “promising.”  

The top ten prevention programs identified by WSIPP are:

  1. Life Skills Training
  2. Communities That Care
  3. Project STAR
  4. Lions Quest Skills for Adolescence
  5. SPORT
  6. Keepin’ it REAL
  7. Strengthening Families for Parents and Youth 10-14
  8. Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care
  9. Case management in schools
  10. Project Northland
Detailed information about these programs may be found on the National Registry for Evidence-based Programs and Practices website.  

While WASAVP advocates for the funding of these programs, the WSIPP list does not include policies proven to reduce youth access to drugs which is the focus of most of WASAVP’s work.  The Guide to Community Preventive Services is the place to start to gain an understanding of public policies that prevent youth alcohol and tobacco use.  Among effective policies are those that limit the density of retailers that sell alcohol and tobacco, the enforcement of minor in possession laws, and taxes.  

Nov 13

Local marijuana ordinances in WA

In the past, WASAVP’s online marijuana policy toolkit included a list of local ordinances adopted across Washington regarding recreational marijuana businesses.  Since the Municipal Research and Services Center (MRSC) collects identical information, WASAVP now refers youth substance use prevention advocates to the MRSC website.

The website includes a map showing jurisdictions that have adopted zoning ordinances, moratoriums, and bans on marijuana businesses with links to policy documents.

The website also includes information about lawsuits against cities that ban marijuana businesses, law enforcement, and marijuana tax revenue.

Nov 13

Liquor Control Board seeking comments about marijuana edibles

The Liquor Control Board (LCB) recently proposed new rules to govern what types of marijuana-infused foods they will allow to be made (processed) and sold as part of Washington’s recreational marijuana system.  The LCB does not regulate the medical marijuana market so these rules only apply to the recreational (I-502) market.

The LCB is now seeking public comments about their proposed rules.  Comments are due by December 3 and a public hearing will be held that day.

Following is an overview of the proposed rules.

  • Marijuana processors must get infused products approved by LCB.  What the proposed rule says: A marijuana processor licensee must obtain approval from the liquor control board for all marijuana-infused products, labeling, and packaging prior to offering these items for sale to a marijuana retailer. The marijuana processor licensee must submit a picture of the product, labeling, and packaging to the liquor control board for approval.
  • Denials may be appealed.  What the proposed rule says: If the liquor control board denies a marijuana-infused product for sale in marijuana retail outlets, the marijuana processor licensee may request an administrative hearing per chapter 34.05 RCW, Administrative Procedure Act.
  • Products must be scored to show serving sizes.  What the proposed rule says: Marijuana-infused products in solid form that contain more than one serving must be scored to indicate individual serving sizes, and labeled so that the serving size is prominently displayed on the packaging.
  • Packages containing multiple servings must be re-sealable.  What the proposed rule says: Products containing more than one serving must be packaged in a package that remains child resistant after the package is opened.
  • Servings must contain equal amounts of THC.  What the proposed rule says:  Marijuana-infused products must be homogenized to ensure uniform disbursement of cannabinoids throughout the product.
  • Packages must say that the product contains marijuana.  What the proposed rule says: All marijuana-infused products must state on the label, “This product contains marijuana.”
  • Products cannot be appealing to children.  What the proposed rule says:  A marijuana processor is limited in the types of food or drinks they may infuse with marijuana to create (an infused edible product) marijuana-infused solid or liquor products meant to be ingested orally, that may be sold by a marijuana retailer. Marijuana-infused products that are made to be especially appealing to children are prohibited. Marijuana-infused products such as, but not limited to, gummy candies, lollipops, cotton candy, or brightly colored products, are prohibited.

The LCB regularly updates the list of marijuana-infused products that they approved.  Here are a few of the marijuana-infused products approved as of 11/6/2014:

  • Legal Rainier Cherry Soda
  • Zoots Premium Cannabis Infused Lemongrass Nuggets
  • Zoots Premium Cannabis Infused Chili Cinnamon Fire Nuggets
  • Baked Botanicals Assorted Cookies
  • Baked Botanicals Green Chief Granola
  • Baked Botanicals Twisted Trail Mix
  • Baked Botanicals Peanut Butter Cookies
  • Baked Botanicals Cinnamon & Sugar Pita Chips
  • Baked Botanicals Chocolate Covered Pretzels
  • Baked Botanicals Cocoa Ripped Shortbread Cookie
  • Baked Botanicals Black Magic Bar
  • Nana’s Crispy Gingersnaps
  • Botanica Seattle Brownie Bites Hybrid
  • Nana’s Chewy Oatmeal Cookies with Raisins
  • Nana’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies
  • Nana’s Gluten-Free Raspberry-Almond Bars

Nov 10

October saw spike in WA pediatric marijuana poisonings

The month of October saw a large spike in marijuana poisonings called into the Washington Poison Center (WPC).  Thirty-three cases were reported, up from 14 in September.

With only a handful of recreational marijuana stores open in the state, the majority of exposures likely resulted from marijuana obtained at medical marijuana dispensaries, according to the WPC report.   Unlike recreational (I-502) marijuana, medical marijuana is unregulated.

The largest number of reported pediatric marijuana poisonings has been reported in King County followed by Pierce and Snohomish Counties.

mj_poison_Oct2014

So far this year, slightly more than half of the poisonings were among adolescents between the ages of 13 and 19 years old.

mj_poison_teens_Oct2014

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