Washington State’s first legal marijuana stores will be open for business on Tuesday, July 8. The Washington State Liquor Control Board is issuing about 20 of the state’s 334 licenses on Monday, July 7, and the licensees must spend that first 24 hours entering their inventory into the state tracking system. Michael Perkins, who expects to open his I-502 store on Seattle’s 15th Avenue Northeast, expects prices to be “$20 to $25 a gram until the producers reduce their prices… I expect to run out of product.” One grower rejected the rumor that producers are charging $5,000 a pound to the new retailers, saying “We are asking $2,800 per pound and we are asking the retailers we work with to cap their price at $420 per ounce to consumers.” One retailer explained the difficult market Washington will be for him, saying, “You have to compete against the medical and black market [while offering] super high prices and limited supply.”
A federal judge has once again ruled that a family on trial in Washington may not mention medical marijuana in court. “In regard to the medical marijuana evidence, I’m still persuaded that it will confuse the jury,” U.S. District Judge Fred Van Sickle of the Eastern District of Washington said during a pretrial hearing teleconference on Monday. “I don’t think [medical marijuana evidence] is relevant.” The family of five sought to present evidence that the marijuana they grew was, in fact, legal under state law, doctor-recommended and appropriate for each family member’s condition. The federal government charged each defendant with six felonies, including manufacturing, possession and distribution of marijuana and possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking. The trial is expected to begin at the end of July. The defendants face maximum penalties that range from 40 years to life in federal prison.
Maryland Delegate Heather Mizeur is running for governor and her outspoken support for legalization of marijuana has brought the issue up for all the candidates. When asked by WBAL-TV her opinion of legalization, Mizeur said, “Marijuana prohibition makes our communities less safe and wastes valuable law enforcement resources. Why should we treat something less toxic and addictive any differently than alcohol or tobacco?” Her Democratic competitors, Attorney General Doug Gansler and Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, support Maryland’s recent decriminalization, but oppose legalization. Brown wants to “learn from [Washington and Colorado’s] experiences and assess whether additional changes to Maryland’s law are warranted.” Gansler wants to “include Maryland’s health professionals, law enforcement and community organizations” in a debate that should favor health and security, “not a rush to tax a new source of income to address budget pressures.” All four Republicans running for governor told WBAL-TV they opposed legalization, but one, businessman Larry Hogan, supports decriminalization, saying, “While I don’t want to make it easier for people to use drugs, locking up someone for a very small amount of marijuana seems unjust.”
Which came first, the chicken or the egg? That’s the kind of debate that has swirled around marijuana use and schizophrenia. Researchers have long known that cannabis use is greater among people with schizophrenia and people who use cannabis are about twice as likely to develop schizophrenia. However, the question was always whether cannabis leads to schizophrenia or does schizophrenia lead to cannabis? Now, researchers at the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London have discovered that people with the genetic predisposition toward schizophrenia also share a predisposition toward cannabis use. Not only were folks with the genes for schizophrenia more likely to use cannabis, they were more likely to use more of it than folks without the genes.
Drug Policy Alliance has dropped its support of California’s SB 1262, a bill intended to finally establish statewide regulation of the medical marijuana industry. DPA singled out the fact that the bill leaves intact the patchwork of county and city regulations that mean severe restrictions, moratoriums, and outright bans on medical cannabis access. “There is nothing in this bill clarifying which entities are responsible for enforcement, or who will promulgate the rules and oversee the implementation of this program. Many localities have banned dispensaries and very few have approached the idea of licensing cultivation because of the lack of support at the state level. Finally, this bill leaves cultivators extremely vulnerable, because few, if any localities regulate cultivation.” The bill is still supported by police chiefs and Americans for Safe Access.