Apr 082015

In the general city election last night, Wichita voters said yes to reducing penalties for possession of marijuana. Of the 37,000 Wichita voters, 54 percent said they wanted more lenient penalties for first-time offenders. Violations would be an infraction that wouldn’t have to be disclosed on most job and college scholarship applications. Attorney General Derek Schmidt has issued an opinion that the initiative is unlawful, primarily because it conflicts with state law. Rep. Steve Brunk, R-Wichita, said he is concerned that Wichita residents might think they are protected by the city initiative and would only have to pay a $50 fine. But under state law, first-time marijuana possession is a Class A misdemeanor carrying a penalty of as much as a $2,500 fine and a year in jail. Legally, that puts it on par with violent offenses including assaulting a police officer. Wichita police make 1,800 to 1,900 marijuana arrests a year.

Pasadena police raided a prominent medical marijuana lab in Southern California, The Werc Shop, Monday evening. According to reports, Pasadena Police raided The Werc Shop in Pasadena at 10 p.m., Monday night, detaining 28 people and ultimately arresting 2 on suspicion in manufacturing a controlled substance. The Werc Shop is a leading cannabis analysis laboratory in Southern California, and performs potency and pathogen testing on southland medical cannabis for dispensaries, collectives and patients. According to reports, an anonymous tip about cannabis odor led local police to two Werc Shop sites in Pasadena. Police said they seized “200 pint-sized bottles” of hash oil, 500 pounds of marijuana and found a “manufacturing factory for hash oil or honey oil.” The legality of extraction labs hinges on a California Appellate Court ruling which criminalizes cannabis extraction using butane, but allows for extraction using inflammable solvents like water.

Seattle’s first legal marijuana-grow operation erupted in flames early this morning — and about 3,000 pot plants perished in the blaze. The two-alarm fire gutted Sea of Green Farms about 4 a.m. after an electrical wiring problem, the Seattle Fire Department said. It was controlled about 45 minutes later. There were no reported injuries. Firefighters, who wore standard masks to battle the blaze, were not affected by the marijuana fumes, Seattle Fire Department spokesman Kyle Moore told The Seattle Times. “The building is ventilated upward, so all the smoke went up into the air,” he said. The Seattle City Attorney’s office sued the grower last summer claiming the company failed to comply with city building code. The suit was dismissed once Sea of Green got the proper land-use designation. The fire caused about $250,000 in damages to the building and equipment, not including the lost marijuana products, the fire department said.

A Republican-backed effort to legalize marijuana for limited medicinal purposes in Tennessee is officially dead for the year. The Senate Health and Welfare Committee decided to delay action on the proposal from Nashville GOP Sen. Steve Dickerson until 2016. Chairman Rusty Crowe said there wasn’t enough time to fully discuss the pros and cons of the bill. House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville, recently touted aspects of the bill but said it needed more work before it could become law. Sen. Mark Green, a Clarksville Republican and doctor, also said he supports the general idea but said the bill needs some work. Neither specified what work they wanted to see done on the bill. The bill was officially sent to summer study by a 7-2 vote.

A bill that would allow parents to use cannabidiol oil to treat their kids’ seizures now sits on the Idaho governor’s desk awaiting his signature. But no one is sure that the governor will sign it. Many in the Statehouse, including some on the governor’s staff, have voiced concerns that there’s not enough medical science behind the bill, and that it essentially legalizes marijuana. Or at the very least, they say, it opens the door for legalization in the future.

Meanwhile, a bill to legalize the use of cannabidiol is heading to a vote of the full Oklahoma Senate after being unanimously approved in the Senate Health and Human Services committee yesterday by a vote of 9-0.  The bill passed in the House by a vote of 99-2 earlier this year. State Rep. Jon Echols (R-Oklahoma City) emphasizes the bill is not an attempt to legalize marijuana, but an effort to help his niece and other children in the state who suffer from a variety of debilitating types of epilepsy.