Washington State is set to open two dozen recreational marijuana stores tomorrow morning. Today the Washington State Liquor Control Board issued 24 licenses, including three in Spokane, two each in Vancouver and Tacoma, and, oddly enough, just one license in all of Seattle. However, a limited set of licensed growers means that the shops may put limits on purchase amounts for fear of running out of product on Day One. One retailer in Vancouver estimates that cannabis buds will sell for $12 to $15 per gram. There will be no cannabis-infused edibles or liquids to purchase yet, as no licensed kitchen has yet to go online. We will have expert guests joining us from Washington in our final show segment today to explain, and our host “Radical” Russ will be joining us live from Seattle tomorrow from the city’s first legal pot shop.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Saturday signed the law making New York the 23rd state to recognize medical use of cannabis. New York’s is the second law, after Minnesota, to ban the smoking of medical marijuana, instead only allowing non-smoked edible, liquid, and vaporized forms of cannabis. Five commercial entities will be licensed statewide and each may open four retail outlets, for a total of twenty possible dispensaries for a state of twenty million people. New York’s program has a seven-year sunset clause, meaning the law will expire if not renewed by politicians in Albany, but the governor, the state health department, and the state police superintendent can shut the program down sooner if they feel it is being abused. Patients will not be able to qualify for medical marijuana in New York with chronic pain or nausea. No patients will receive any medicine for the next eighteen months while the state works out the regulations.
Activists in the nation’s capital have submitted over 58,000 signatures to put marijuana legalization on the city’s November ballot. Washington DC organizers called the DC Cannabis Campaign hope their Initiative 71 will succeed in the district where over 60 percent of residents support the idea. The initiative would legalize possession of two ounces of marijuana and cultivation of six plants at home. Recently, DC City Council has decriminalized marijuana possession, but Rep. Andy Harris, a Republican from Maryland, has attached an amendment to an appropriations bill in Congress that would forbid Washington DC from spending any taxpayer dollars on enacting pro-marijuana laws. Paradoxically, Rep. Harris’s amendment would mean no DC cop could write the $25 ticket under marijuana decriminalization, effectively making possession legal anyway. But it would also mean no ballots could be printed or votes counted on legalization in November.
Somebody call Danny Danko! Berkeley, California, has approved a first-in-the-nation program of FREE WEED for indigent patients. The Berkeley City Council last week approved a plan that would not only allow for a fourth dispensary in the city, but also require all city dispensaries to give away 2% of their cannabis inventory to low-income and homeless patients for free. It further mandates that the 2% can’t be just schwag or trim, but must be the same high-quality flower it offers for sale. Berkeley Patient Group’s Sean Luse, said, “We’ve found out over the years [that] one of the cruel realities is that when you get sick and you have a serious illness is that it’s often hard to keep a job, it can be hard to keep your income up, so those people really need the help the most.”
This weekend’s Marijuana Farmers Market in Los Angeles attracted a line of patients stretching for blocks and waiting for hours. The California Heritage Market opened up this weekend and director Paizley Bradbury explained that patients will “be able to get flowers, concentrates, edibles, lotions…. And you can get 70% off the prices at a dispensary.” Los Angeles’ recently-passed Proposition D has shuttered many of the dispensaries in Los Angeles County, forcing patients to scramble to acquire their medicine. Attendance was estimated at over 5,000 patients on Friday and Saturday, despite the sweltering heat and long wait times. One attendee appreciated being able to quiz the growers directly about their product, saying, “sometimes the shops don’t really know,” while a grower explained, “the dispensary is so last decade.”
Support for legalization of recreational marijuana is falling in Pennsylvania even as support for medical marijuana is rising. The most recent Franklin & Marshall College poll shows support for legalization at just 35%, falling from a high of 38% last May. Meanwhile, support for medical marijuana has risen to 84%, up from 82% last May. Strong support for medical marijuana has now reached 59%, up from 55% last May. A medical marijuana bill has been sent to the Pennsylvania Senate Judiciary Committee.