Legal Cannabis Week #63

Feds allow cannabis banking

This week the federal government took a historic incremental step toward allowing state-legal cannabis businesses to bank their cash. The Treasury Department issued guidelines for banks dealing with such money, and the Justice Department issued guidance to U.S. prosecutors to not go after these now-tolerated federal money laundering crimes. Progress on overcoming our 1986 crack-hysteria-fueled federal drug laws! Here are some headlines:

Feds let banks and marijuana sellers do business
FEB 14 | Associated Press

Obama administration clears banks to accept funds from legal marijuana dealers
FEB 14 | Washington Post

Feds offer banking rules for legal-pot industry
FEB 14 | Seattle Times

Banks given the go-ahead on working with marijuana businesses
FEB 14 | Denver Post

Federal guidance on pot business leaves banks wary
FEB 15 | Associated Press

Want to buy 502-compliant property?

Bob Young wrote about the state cannabis board offering thirty days for pot business applicants to get their guano in order:

State gives pot applicants more time to find business locations
FEB 10 | Seattle Times

This differs from what the board told Young last month: that applicants with non-qualifying real estate would be disqualified immediately. That angers some people and makes some people happy. That’s what some people expected and not what others expected. That seems fair to some and unfair to others. To be, or not to be?

Anonymous sources tell me the same story with a slightly different climax. The state calls to schedule a phone interview. They ask about your business plan and your finances. Then, at the end of the conversation, they say you have thirty days, starting now, to come up with the real estate and all of the capital. So if you applied for three licenses and said each location will cost $200,000 to build out, you have thirty days to show you have $600,000 in the bank plus qualified locations.

I’ve recently joined up with Todd from CannaMLS to help build their portfolio of 502-compliant properties for sale or lease. If you are interested in buying 502-compliant property, contact me at ben@hemp.net or 206-335-9214. Unfortunately, there are few commercial landlords leasing to cannabis businesses—please get in touch if you have any. On the flip side, everything for sale is 502-friendly, assuming properties pass the zoning, buffer, and political reality checks. Seems like an opportune time to be a pot landlord.

Legislative weed watch

I’m mostly reprinting last week’s legislative weed watch, with some important corrections. First, I erroneously maligned Roger Goodman for last year’s zero-tolerance commercial driver’s license legislation, which was left to die this year. Apologies to Roger for the low jab.

Second, I listed HB 2149, Rep. Eileen Cody’s medical cannabis bill, as dead, but it is alive and has been moved to the House floor for a vote. HB 2149 would create a mandatory government registry for pot patients, reduce current plant limits from 15 to 3 blooming plants, and create a business license endorsement to allow pot shops to sell patients three ounces at a time instead of just one.

Save hash! HB 2304 and SB 6160 are requests from WSLCB to let pot bakers buy pot ingredients from pot processors. But it also recriminalizes more than 7 grams of hash. Listen, regular folks buy hash by the gram, and hash is like a fine wine. I want a dozen kinds of hash in my freezer. No, I want 28 different grams of hash in my freezer, for real. And I should be able to.

I’m okay letting go the 72 ounces of liquid hash oil quirk in I-502, but I can posses an ounce of marijuana, and that means hash. (And please spare the ridiculous argument that concentrated marijuana is still illegal.) It’s true that hash usually represents more THC when compared gram for gram with pot flowers. Big whoop—we’re not trying to limit our citizens to a certain amount of cannabinoids. Whether you smoke the bunkest bud or the headiest hash, an ounce is an ounce. Leave it be.

Legislative hotline is 800-LOAN-000, as in “toll free, loan nothing.”

Moved this week:

  • HB 1597 – Goodman – Making marijuana law technical corrections.
  • HB 2149 – Cody – Concerning medical marijuana.
  • HB 2304 – WSLCB – Concerning marijuana processing and retail licenses. Recriminalizes hash possession over 7 grams.
  • HB 2409 – Carlyle – Deny standard tax breaks to cannabis businesses.
  • HB 2706 – WSLCB – Ensuring safe, responsible, and legal acquisition of marijuana by adults.
  • SB 6160 – WSLCB – Concerning marijuana processing and retail licenses. Recriminalizes hash possession over 7 grams.
  • SB 6214 – Kohl-Welles – Concerning industrial hemp production.

Still alive, but didn’t move:

  • HB 2144 – Condotta – Concerning the establishment of a dedicated local jurisdiction marijuana fund and the distribution of a specified percentage of marijuana excise tax revenues to local jurisdictions.
  • HB 2394 – WSLCB – Concerning state liquor control board enforcement officers.
  • SB 5887 – Rivers – Merging the medical marijuana system with the recreational marijuana system.
  • SB 5966 – Kline – Concerning the possession or use of cannabis products in sentencing provisions.
  • SB 6158 – WSLCB – Ensuring safe, responsible, and legal acquisition of marijuana by adults.
  • SB 6178 – Kohl-Welles Aligning the medical marijuana system with the recreational marijuana system.
  • SB 6481 – O’Ban – Funding recovery programs for persons with mental illness and chemical dependency disorders.
  • SJM 8000 – Kohl-Welles – Requesting that the DEA reclassify medical marijuana as a Schedule II drug.

Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board is promoting a trio of bills. HB 2304 and SB 6160 would allow cannabis processors to sell to other cannabis processors, so that a mom and pop bakery can buy hash oil or butter from another company. But those bills also criminalize anyone possessing more than 7 grams of hash—a significant reduction from the limits set by voter-approved Initiative 502. HB 2394 would turn liquor board officers into a full police agency, so they can arrest or kill you while conducting legal pot grow inspections, without as much administrative hassle or potential liability. HB 2706 and SB 6158 would create a handful of new civil infractions and misdemeanors surrounding underage pot purchasers, because we don’t criminalize those little shits enough already.

Municipal marijuana moratoriums would be banned under HB 2144, which also gives cities and counties a cut of state cannabis taxes. The bill cleared the House Government Accountability committee by unanimous bipartisan vote.

Rep. Reuven Carlyle, a north Seattle democrat, is pushing HB 2409 to deny to the cannabis industry tax breaks that are enjoyed by other state businesses.

Rep. Roger Goodman sponsored HB 1597 to make some statutory citation corrections.

Sen. Adam Kline wants to let judges restrict cannabis use by offenders on probation with SB 5966.

Mental health programs would get some pot tax money under SB 6481.

Federal cannabis rescheduling is the goal of SJM 8000, but keep in mind Schedule II means this backyard flower would be restricted to pharmacy sales.

Industrial hemp, legalized under federal law two weeks ago, would be planted by Washington State University under SB 6214, sponsored by Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, on which Ah Warner and Joy Beckerman Maher have done amazing advocacy work.

Medical cannabis seems to be the heavyweight bout this session, with three bills looking more similar with each amendment. Sen. Ann Rivers and two other senate Republicans proposed SB 5887 to fold medical cannabis into the recreational system. This is the bill that last year led to a budget rider requiring the liquor board to make recommendations on how to “merge” our medical and recreational cannabis laws. And Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles sponsored SB 6178 to “align” the two systems. On the House side, Rep. Eileen Cody proposed HB 2149.

Legislative staff prepared a comparison of SB 5887 and SB 6178. It is a good resource to easily understand the two senate bills. Cody’s HB 2149 is similar to them both. All three restrict patients to 6 plants and 3 ounces of pot—down from 15 plants and 24 ounces—eliminate the right to grow medical cannabis collectively, establish a mandatory registry for patients, and exempt patients from certain taxes when purchasing pot from state-licensed retailers.

Interestingly, the Kohl-Welles bill would remove child care, libraries, and transit centers from the 1,000-foot pot-shop setbacks in I-502. Removing child care from the I-502 zoning map would be a godsend for the legal cannabis industry, quite honestly.

Among the apparently-dead pot-related bills: HB 1084, HB 1482, HB 1661, HB 1662, HB 1789, HB 1976, HB 1991, HB 1992, HB 2000, HB 2028, HB 2030, HB 2198, HB 2206, HB 2303, HB 2233, HB 2322, HB 2411, HB 2509, HB 2510, HB 2511, HB 2566, HB 2638, HB 2732, HB 2767, HB 2772, SB 5010, SB 5279, SB 5528, SB 5595, SB 5954, SB 6130, SB 6393, SB 6505, SB 6542, SB 6543.

Week in review

Arlington City Council enacted cannabis zoning.

Ganja Future Growers and Producers Association considered cannabis reform in Jamaica.

Agrisoft Development Group joined the cannabis software sector.

Hawaii Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court ruling invalidating a voter-approved decriminalization initiative.

Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board allowed cannabis business applicants thirty days to get their real estate in order.

Colorado law enforcement officials consider pot-specific DUI tracking.

Colorado voters think legal pot is bad for their image, but still support it.

Colorado regulators review the first month of legalized pot sales.

Carl Anderson and Wesley Jenkins sued Health Canada over new medical cannabis rules.

Rep. Mary Lou Marzian introduced a medical cannabis bill in Kentucky.

Wyoming NORML walked for weed.

Enumclaw-area entrepreneurs applied for legal pot licenses.

Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board faces the ire of frustrated cannabis business license applicants.

Angel Swanson and Crystal Jones started a cannabis staffing company.

Wahkiakum County Board of Commissioners declined to comment on a cannabis production application from Shane Kehrli and Chris Bianchi.

Oklahomans rallied in support of a proposed legalization bill.

Constitutional Court of Italy struck a super-harsh cannabis sentencing law

High Times and Westword sued Colorado over cannabis advertising restrictions.

Valley Marijuana Council connects law enforcement, teachers, parents and pot shops.

Utah Sen. Curtis Bramble joined the board of a cannabis payments company.

United States Postal Service reminds us to ship weed via private companies. Like I said.

Patricia Albright faces federal pot prosecution in California.

Congressional Representatives petitioned President Obama to reschedule cannabis.

Rhode Island legislators introduced a bill to legalize recreational cannabis.

State Rep. Christopher Hurst warned that I-502 moratoriums will cause crime to increase in the moratorium locations

Oregon Senate Judiciary Committee discussed two cannabis bills.

Rep. Robert DeLeo pushed for an investigation into the Massachusetts dispensary licensing process.

Albania seized two tons of hash. And I almost cried.

Kittitas County Planning Commission holds a cannabis zoning hearing on February 25.

Longview City Council rejected a cannabis zoning proposal.

Mexico City legislators introduced a bill to decriminalize cannabis.

Drug task force employees fear cartel-backed cannabis smuggling.

Kirkland City Council offends all sides with its cannabis zoning decisions.

Kansas activists rallied in support of a medical cannabis bill.

Former prohibitionists jump on the pot profit bandwagon.

Marysville City Council continued an I-502 moratorium.

The world embraces rational drug policy after the U.S. softens its irrationality.

Robbie Moloney awaits eviction after a six-year pot battle.

Steve DeAngelo swapped leadership roles after his Massachusetts dispensary plans were questioned.

Al Jazeera America in-depthed Colorado’s legal pot industry.

Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board released cannabis testing lab criteria.

Worth repeating

“We decided that everyone who applied for a license should be provided with the same benefit of 30 days.”

Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board spokesman Brian Smith on allowing cannabis business applicants a month to suss out their real estate situation

“Many people of color did not go for their I-502 license because of distrust or past history with law enforcement. But that doesn’t mean that there are not people with excellent skills and relevant experience that would be very valuable to employers.”

Green Staffing Solutions owner Angel Swanson on minority employment opportunities in the legal cannabis industry

“So I started thinking about this and said, ‘Why can’t Aspen be a model community for the introduction of this product? We’ll do it right.'”

Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo on creating community cannabis coalitions

“Those who think that banning I-502 stores will make marijuana less available are out of touch with reality.”

Washington State Rep. Chris Hurst on I-502 moratoriums

“When I realized you could make money in this industry I did an about-face.”

Investor Jim Willit on changing his anti-pot opinion

Contact

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