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Rally To Save Medical Cannabis In Washington State


washington state medical marijuana rally i502When: June 19, 2013, 12 noon

Where: The State Capitol campus, Olympia

Why: The Washington State House and Senate have both added budget amendments that, if passed, will turn control of medical cannabis over to the control of the same Liquor Control board that has publicly stated that medical cannabis is the biggest external threat to the success of their recreational pot stores. The goal of the legislation is to “bring medical cannabis laws into compliance with I-502”. That’s a solution that just won’t work for patients.

What will bringing medical cannabis into compliance with I-502 likely mean to patients?

-If patients must “conform” to I-502, they will be limited to one ounce, just like recreational users.

-They will pay the same 25%+25%+25%+10%+ tax rate as recreational users.

-They will lose their right to personal grows.

-They will lose their right to collective growing, which will also eliminate all the current access points for those that don’t grow, leaving them without medication.

That’s not all!

-They will further restrict doctor recommendations for patients, making it nearly impossible for most patients to get legal recommendations.

-They will set a 21 year old age limit for patients, leaving thousands of sick young people without access to medication and force them to choose between driving or complying with I-502’s “zero tolerance” policy for DUID.

It is not the fault of medical cannabis patients, nor their access points, that the legislature has failed to work with us to come up with common sense regulations. Turning control of our medicine over to the state’s liquor distributor and taxing our medication is certainly not an acceptable solution. We must convince our legislators to work with patients, not the LCB, to come up with solutions that will work for everyone and will not punish patients simply for their choice of medicine.

If you can’t attend the rally, please contact your two Representatives and your Senator. Here’s where you can go to find out who they are and how to contact them: http://app.leg.wa.gov/DistrictFinder/

You can also express your concerns to your legislators by calling the legislative hotline at: 1-800-562-6000

The message is simple: We don’t want the Liquor Control Board, the states’ liquor distributor, writing rules for controlling medical cannabis and we want that provision stricken from the state budget bill.

If you don’t take action, this could very well be the end of medical cannabis.

For further information on the rally or how you can help, please call: 206-612-9044 or send an email to steve@cannacare.org


State Capitol Campus Parking Information:

Campus Map:


About Author

Johnny Green


  1. Let’s face it. If all things were….different and the state had a real choice about who they would prefer to do business with, it wouldn’t be with 1000+ mom & pop artisanal growers would it? NOPE, they’d prefer to work with 1 grower, maybe two. And who would that be if….things were different?? That would be easy as that would be BIG Agriculture who’s skill at growing things is unequaled anywhere on the planet. And why doesn’t BIG Ag have this thing going (a business partnership with the state to grow all the cannabis they can sell) hands down?? Because until the Feds give their blessing and approval BIG Ag isn’t interested. So what does the state do in the meantime to get this bastard child of the taxed recreational cannabis market up & running?? Well we all know that by now too as Steve Sarich has spoken so clearly in his posts below. The state of Washington is preparing to offer up a few of their official growers as sacrificial lambs so to speak to the ever hungry Federal justice system (a true oxymoron if there ever was one). Oh they’ll deny this up & down once it happens. BUT…. they could crush this long before it ever happens by doing two things IMMEDIATELY in my opinion.
    #1 Right out of the gate (though I doubt it’s too late) the state should have adopted the following phrase: IF the state of Washington makes any money from the sale of taxed recreational cannabis those funds will go to fully funding education in our state. That would have solidified support for this even more during the last election. And most importantly, every time the Feds did one of their dirty deeds by arresting any state grower, someone from the media could blast the feds publicly by mentioning “there they go again stealing tax dollars from the children of Washington state used for their education. Why do we put up with this?” While that scenario is hard to imagine right now, that’s exactly what needs to happen. Give em some of their own medicine right back at em!! Hey if “for the children” is a popular phrase for the Feds (and it is. Who hasn’t heard em use that numerous times?) I say the state can make excellent use of it too – right back at em.
    #2 And after serious negotiations with the Feds and they aren’t able to GUARANTEE the non-interference of the other Washington in this state program, the state of Washington will pay for the complete legal defense of any state approved grower following strict state guidelines being selectively prosecuted by the Feds.
    Do & accomplish these two things and I will GUARANTEE the other Washington will back down and go back to the place they ruined over 100 years ago with their proverbial tails between their legs should the powers that be here in Washington state get some brass balls and go right back after the Great Satan in Washington DC. They’re so busy what with all the scandals going on I’m surprised we’re hearing anything regarding cannabis right now.
    Anyway, it’s about time to force the issue. And doing these two things would do just that…..

  2. I-502 was designed to pass. It was not designed to work. The law included a 25% tax from grower to processor, another 25% from processor to retailer, another 25% tax from retailer to the customer, plus another 10% sales tax on all of that. For the state licensed store to be able to sell recreational marijuana for the same $10 a gram as the medical cannabis dispensaries, the grower would have to be willing to sell his product for a gross price of $2 per gram. That would work out to less than $1 per gram in actual profits (that’s BEFORE Federal taxes). So for this system to work we would have to believe that there are business people that are slow-witted enough to risk a very lengthy Federal prison sentence for less than a dollar a gram in profits. Is there someone out there that there with money and experience enough to start a business like this that doesn’t know how to use a calculator and realize how quickly you’d go broke selling indoor marijuana at that price?

    The Federal criminal penalties are the same whether you are growing for the black market or for the state cartel. Here’s the difference. If you were you’re growing for the black market or the medical market, you’re are going to be as stealthy as humanly possible. I’m assuming, of course, that you’re not looking to go to Federal prison.

    If you decide instead to “go big” and grow for the state cartel, everything will be subject to full disclosure. This includes all of your records, how much marijuana you grew and how much marijuana you sold. When I say “full disclosure”, that means that the state is required to provide that information, as well as the location of your grow, your home address, and even your fingerprints (and that of your wife), to the DEA. Anyone here getting all excited about signing up for that deal?

    The LCB has been tight-lipped on retail pricing. I don’t know how any of these businesses can even do a cursory business plan without knowing this information, but they haven’t even hinted at what they may decide. If the Liquor Control Board decides to cap retail prices at $10 to match the prices of the medical cannabis dispensaries, and be somewhat competitive with the black market, they’ll never get growers. If you grow for the medical market, you can expect $5-$6 a gram, depending on your location. If you grow for the state cartel stores, you’ll gross roughly 1/3rd as much. That disparity is the difference between making a profit, or going broke working for the state so they can make a profit.

    Of course there are those that would argue that “while I lose money on each gram, I’ll make it up in volume”. I hope that works for you, but I wouldn’t count on it. And the more “volume” you grow, the longer the Federal prison sentence.

    If they don’t cap the price, you’ll see $40-$50 a gram recreational marijuana…and some VERY happy black market growers and sellers. You’ll also see totally empty state cartel retail pot stores. People like Jamen Shively, have already announced their intentions to sell “gourmet” pot at $50 a gram. They say their market is the same people who’ll spend $500 on a great bottle of wine. He’s probably right. I just don’t know very many of those people so I can’t tell you how many of them are stupid enough to pay $50 a gram, but my guess is that there aren’t enough to sustain a state-wide system of growers and stores. You might get that for great concentrates, but the LCB has made the sale of concentrates illegal.

    And what’s proven to be the favorite tool of the DEA over the last few years? The threatening letter to your landlord, right? 100 of these letters went out to dispensaries in LA last week. At least 37 have gone out to dispensaries in Seattle in the last year. So let’s forget about the idea of beating the Feds in some “David v. Goliath” states’ rights case in Federal Court. We already know what the Feds have in mind without any more hints from Mr. Holder. He’s already stated that the people that the people they are most interested in going after is large commercial growers….which is exactly what the LCB is planning on establishing.

    The LCB is requiring each applicant to provide a written statement from their landlord that they approve of their property being used for an illegal marijuana growing operation in order for the applicant to obtain a growing license. If the Feds want to stop the state LCB plan in its tracks, all they have to do is wait for the LCB to turn over all of the information on the licensed growers, and their landlords, to the Feds and, in one day, the DEA can send out “cease and desist” letters to every one of them. In one day, it would stop every state licensed grow operation. Please don’t argue that there will be those that will ignore, or somehow fight, these letters. That’s just silly. You get the letter, you close down.

    So at that point there are no state growers. No state growers, no state stores, no state cartel recreational marijuana…and no “billions” in state tax revenues. All in one day…and since they’re the Feds, they don’t even have to pay for the postage.

    But that may not be what kills the LCB plan. The state of Colorado has already stated in the press that they’ll close down 64 in that state if it fails to bring in the revenues promised. The I-502 sponsors promised $562,000,000 in state tax revenues. Their paid consultant has already said that they’d be lucky if they got hit 20% of that. The LCB has missed every deadline they’ve set for themselves to far and just missed the last one this last week. It doesn’t look like we’ll see any marijuana on the shelves of state cartel stores for a least another year. And that’s optomistic and assumes they don’t miss anymore deadlines. That will mean zero in state tax revenues for another year. How long will it be before the state legislature finally decides that they don’t want to dump millions more into setting up a system that’s providing zero tax revenues back to the state? My guess is that they won’t wait long.

    Unfortunately, these are not the only land-mines that they’ll need to overcome. They still haven’t figured out how any of these licensees can possibly pay their monthly state taxes without having a bank account. This is no small issue and they’ve yet to come up with a solution. I don’t think that the state running an all cash pot business will be viewed as anything short of money laundering by the Feds.

    The truly sad part of this story is that for the $6.5 million dollars that they spent on this impossible “tax and regulate” scheme, they could have actually passed a real legalization bill in the State of Washington. Instead they opted for a greed driven business model that was doomed from the start.

    This is why we have to prevent patients from being loaded on to this “Titanic” that the LCB has created….BEFORE it sets out on its maiden voyage with the patients of Washington on board.

    Steve Sarich
    Cannabis Action Coalition

  3. On June 5, 2013, the State of Washington Department of Revenue met to discuss many urgent issues that their department would be facing. Of these topics, one that was discussed was the implementation of I-502 – the recreational marijuana initiative. As the Washington State Liquor Control Board has just recently developed and presented as a draft the rules regarding Washington Marijuana Businesses, the Department of Revenue could present only what they already knew. The sad thing is that the presentation by Armikka Bryant, a Department of Revenue Tax Policy Specialist was only scheduled to be 20 minutes long. Among the many pieces of information provided to the group were two very tantalizing bits. The tax revenue from recreational marijuana as high as $1,943,936,000
    over five years or as little as zero dollars. When comparing a Cost of Goods Sold of $10 at the Grower, a marijuana product at a dispensary would cost $10.65 compared to a cost of as high as $20.81 after 3 levels of excise taxes and sales taxes have been applied. It sounds like the state still has a way to go . . .

  4. One of the few voices of reason in this debate. Let’s hope they listen to his advice….

  5. Because of the numerous votes the state had regarding the medical cannabis initiatives back in the 1990’s (remember it was voted on more than one time and each time a larger majority supported medical cannabis in Washington state once it was finally implemented in 1998 – 15 years ago. 15 mostly non-eventful years ago I might add) I don’t think that just because state senator Hair Brain and a few of his cohorts don’t like medical cannabis because “it will cause the failure of the upcoming state taxed recreational scheme” yet to be put in place, they can change those results like they’re telling us they can and eliminate medical cannabis with a proverbial snap of their fingers. I’m sure they think they can BUT there are going to be many legal challenges over that matter should they try and pursue that course of action. And if you think time has stood still while waiting for the state to both come up with and implement a system for selling taxed cannabis in retail outlets, get a bunch of lawyers involved in what should be an easy solution fighting against state ignorance of the subject and something like that could potentially take years to settle. Oh, what would that easy solution be to the upcoming problems and eventual failure of this state proposed scheme?? Instead of setting the price for a gram of state taxed cannabis ABOVE the prices charged by the dispensaries (currently about $10 per gram or $280 per ounce) AND the black market (currently about $5 per gram or about $150 per ounce), the price of state grown and taxed recreational cannabis MUST be priced BELOW the dispensaries AND the black market prices. That would make the dispensaries come down on their prices or go out of business AND the black marketeers would also feel the pain and most likely would disappear or at least shrink. But the best thing out of all of this would be the increased volume of taxed cannabis sales resulting in the kinds of taxes paid to the state they seem to think this failure prone, illy conceived and poorly thought out scheme they are leaning towards now, could deliver. High pricing doesn’t work with groceries, gasoline or even medical expenses, people will always get what they want at the cheaper place IF it’s available. Why would these fools think their high prices for taxed cannabis (which they propose to be more expensive than their….competition right from the onset ) would be any different?? They need free market, free thinkers up there running this program. Not some prohibitionist trying to do something that isn’t in his DNA posing as the state sponsored cannabis savior waiting for approval from Washington DC that will never come. Talk about in over one’s head….

  6. The Washington New Wire is run by the lobbyist that wrote the bill. Probably not a reliable source :-)

  7. Wasn’t 502 passed by the voters and didn’t it state that no changes would be made to MMJ in WA if 502 passed?

  8. From: Kohl-Welles, Sen. Jeanne
    Sent: Sunday, June 02, 2013 10:59 AM
    To: Hill, Sen. Andy; Braun, Sen. John; Hargrove, Sen. Jim; Nelson, Sen. Sharon; Alexander, Rep. Gary; Wilcox, Rep. J.T.; Hunter, Rep. Ross; Sullivan, Rep. Pat; Hesselholt, Claire; Makowski, Yona; Barnes, Courtney; Moore, Ryan
    Cc: Schumacher, David; Wickstrom, Karen; Peterson, Ruth; O’Neill, Shawn; Hummel, Elizabeth; Peters, Barb; Trask, Sharon; Pedersen, Marilyn; Roberts, Lesley
    Subject: Budget Proviso Language
    Importance: High

    Dear Colleagues:

    I am writing to address issues related to current budget proviso language on regulation of medical marijuana. Similar floor amendments were adopted for the House and Senate operating budgets.

    Both provisos address the use of funds appropriated to the Liquor Control Board (LCB) from the liquor revolving account to implement I-502. The Senate version directs the LCB to develop recommendations regarding the interaction of medical marijuana regulations and I-502. The House version directs the LCB to develop legislation integrating the medical marijuana market with the recreational marijuana market. The House language is more direct in that it requires legislation and that the two markets be integrated. In theory, the Senate language could be satisfied with a report and the report could recommend separate regulatory guidelines for the medical and recreational markets.

    Additionally, both budget provisos require the LCB to work with the Dept. of Health and the Dept. of Revenue in carrying out this task. Other aspects to be addressed include age limits, tax of medical marijuana, collective gardens and regulation of health care providers.

    As you may know, I have been working on medical cannabis legislation since the mid-1990s, including bills to address some problematic issues with I-692, approved by the voters in 1998. While I have not been a patient or a recreational user, I witnessed firsthand as one of my closest and dearest friends as well as a sister-in-law experienced profound relief from their cancer suffering through the use of cannabis. I have advocated for patients since then by trying to create a workable, regulated system for the distribution of medical cannabis. In 2011, SB 5073 would have done just this, but it was unfortunately partially vetoed by Gov. Gregoire, mainly to remove the regulatory system for production, processing and distribution of marijuana for use by qualified medical patients. Many of you were here at the time and undoubtedly remember the attention and debate the bill received, and I worked with every possible stakeholder in that process.

    While I introduced legislation this session, SB 5528, which mostly involved technical and clean-up changes, the bill did not get a vote by the Senate. I had made the decision to wait until the 2014 legislative session to introduce legislation to create a regulated system for medical cannabis until the LCB releases its rules for the recreational use system under I-502. I still believe this is the best approach and for that reason did not sign on as a sponsor to Sen. Rivers’ legislation, SB 5887.

    I also have concerns about the current budget riders regarding medical cannabis. While I initially thought the Senate floor amendment was satisfactory, although I hadn’t known about it in advance, I now believe that even though the sponsors had good intentions, the proviso is unneeded and could have negative unanticipated consequences.

    It has also has resulted in a high level of concern on the part of many patient and other advocacy groups — including even outright opposition being expressed in rallies and demonstrations. I am concerned that we would be handing over too much of our responsibility to a regulatory agency. I also worry that too many conclusions would be drawn behind closed doors, and that the process for creating these rules would circumvent public input. In many ways, the LCB has a vested interest in diverting business from the medical collectives now operating and into the retail stores when they open early next year. It is easy to argue the LCB also has a vested interest in wanting to add to its regulatory scope, and bring the medical cannabis industry into its system. This may turn out to be the end result down the road, or it may be determined that another state agency should have that responsibility.

    For these and other reasons, I think it best to have the LCB focus on its task at hand, that given to them by the voters in approving I-502 — an initiative that specifically mentions it will have no effect on medical cannabis laws. We can visit this next year and, by doing so, have the advantage of determining then whether the system developed for recreational users should be replicated. Let the LCB open the doors for recreational-use business first and then determine what problems, if any, need fixing between the two systems.

    Finally, we need to see what reaction the federal government has to whatever rules and system the LCB creates and implements. We do not even know if the LCB will be able to implement the new system or if the federal government will stop it in its tracks.

    Once we are able to evaluate more of the developments and information that the LCB will produce in its implementation of I-502, I will be meeting with stakeholders and other members during the Interim about legislation for the 2014 session. The LCB has its hands full, and I do not think we should hand it one of our responsibilities.


  9. 5034-S AMS RIVE S2503.1
    SSB 5034 – S AMD 224
    By Senator Rivers
    ADOPTED 04/05/2013
    1 On page 20, line 33, after “limitations:” insert the following:
    2 “(1)”
    3 On page 21, after line 3, insert the following:
    4 “(2)(a) The liquor control board must work with the department of
    5 health and the department of revenue to develop recommendations for the
    6 legislature regarding the interaction of medical marijuana regulations
    7 and the provisions of Initiative Measure No. 502. At a minimum, the
    8 recommendations must include provisions addressing the following:
    9 (i) Age limits;
    10 (ii) Authorizing requirements for medical marijuana;
    11 (iii) Regulations regarding health care professionals;
    12 (iv) Collective gardens;
    13 (v) Possession amounts;
    14 (vi) Location requirements;
    15 (vii) Requirements for medical marijuana producing, processing, and
    16 retail licensing; and
    17 (viii) Taxation of medical marijuana in relation to recreational
    18 marijuana.
    19 (b) The board must submit its recommendations to the appropriate
    20 committees of the legislature by January 1, 2014.”
    EFFECT: Requires the liquor control board, the department of
    health, and the department of revenue to develop recommendations for
    the legislature for rules and regulations regarding the integration of
    medical marijuana provisions and the provisions of I-502.
    No fiscal impact.
    — END —
    Official Print – 1 5034-S AMS RIVE S2503.1

  10. It seems that a copy of the proposed legislation needs to be looked at. The coverage in the Washington Wire is to the effect that the proposed legislation was to fund a study not make the sweeping changes cited in the article above. It becomes a matter of who to believe.

    So what’s the deal? Am I to be scared into action or does someone going to publish the text of the proposed legislation. Marijuana activism will descend into the mire unless it is credible. If it supports the same knee jerk scare tactic rhetoric as the prohibitionists then stop the train; I for one am getting off.

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