Jan 152015

The Russ Belville Show #523 420RADIO News – Washington Pot Shops Lobby for Level Playing Field [2015-01-15 Thu]

Washington marijuana retailers are hiring lobbyists to push state legislators in Olympia to regulate medical cannabis. They want medical marijuana to meet the same safety standards as recreational pot and say customers who aren’t true patients should have to buy the high-tax retail product. Some dispensaries are bringing in their own lobbyists to make sure they don’t get squeezed out. Amber Lewis was hired in November by an alliance of medical and recreational businesses that want to figure a way that’s fair to both sides. “I’ve learned that in the cannabis industry, things are very loose, until they’re not,” says Lewis.  While the state doesn’t have an exact count of medical dispensaries, they far outnumber the 334 recreational marijuana stores licensed to open. In Seattle alone, about 300 dispensaries operate, but only 21 retail licenses were issued, says Rick Garza, director of the Washington State Liquor Control Board.

New York Senator Liz Krueger will introduce a bill seeking to legalize marijuana for general use in New York State, she said on Sunday, hoping the recent passage of medical marijuana laws will help give the bill momentum.  Ms. Krueger, a Democrat representing Manhattan for more than a decade, said that in the legislative session beginning in January, she will fight for a bill modeled partly on cannabis legalization laws that recently went into effect in Washington and Colorado.  Ms. Krueger introduced a similar bill last session, but it was largely considered a liberal pipe dream, unlikely to pass a Republican-controlled Senate in a state that hadn’t yet legalized medical marijuana.

Supporters of medical marijuana in Kansas are joining Democratic two state lawmakers at a Statehouse rally in favor of the Cannabis Compassionate Care Act.  Rep. Gail Finney, of Wichita, and Sen. David Haley of Kansas City filed medical marijuana bills prior to the start of this year’s legislative session. Similar measures have been filed since 2009, but none of them have made it to the discussion stage in committee.  In addition to Thursday’s rally, several medical cannabis groups also will be lobbying state lawmakers on behalf of patients and caregivers throughout the day.  Finney said she thinks there’s a good chance the measure will get a hearing during this year’s session.

The Vallejo, California City Council finally made a decision about medical marijuana dispensaries operating within the city of Vallejo.  In a series of four motions, the council first decided in a 5-2 vote to shut down all dispensaries in the city – even if they are compiling with the Measure C tax.  In 2011, city voters approved Measure C, which imposes a business license tax rate of 10 percent on the sales of medical marijuana products within the city.  According to a recent city staff report, 11 dispensaries were maintaining an active tax certificate out of the 26 known to be operating within the city.  The council then unanimously approved a motion for city staff to bring recommendations back to the council on the regulation of dispensaries inside city limits. The final dispensary motion of the night – to stop issuing Measure C tax certificates to new applicants and stop renewing certificates to dispensaries which hold a valid tax certificate – passed 6-1.

The Tennessee chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws plans to launch a petition signature drive to defund Nashville’s enforcement of marijuana possession laws.  Rather than explicitly calling for decriminalization, the proposed amendment says that the Metro government shall not appropriate any resources supporting, nor in any way monetarily support, the criminal prosecution of an adult for possession of less than 2 ounces of marijuana.  It also includes a “private right of action” provision that would give citizens standing to sue if Nashville violates this law. If an individual or organization prevails in court, the amendment reads, they would receive $1,000 in damages and payment of all costs and reasonable attorney’s fees.  The group would need to collect 6,877 charter amendment signatures — 10 percent of the August 2014 general election turnout — by May 18 to qualify for the August ballot.

The Real Housewives of New York City reality star Bethenny Frankel plans to launch her own line of “Skinnygirl Marijuana” in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington, where recreational cannabis is legal, sources reveal exclusively in the new issue of Us Weekly.  “It will be a specially engineered strain of pot designed to not give you the munchies,” an insider close to the Skinnygirl cocktails creator, 44, tells Us. “She read about how profitable the cannabis industry is and wants to get in on that.”