SEATTLE, WA — For three days in August, hundreds of thousands of people will descend on Myrtle Edwards and Centennial Parks on Seattle’s waterfront for the 22nd annual Hempfest, traditionally the largest annual gathering of pro-cannabis supporters in the world. But following last year’s historic passage of Initiative 502, which legalized the adult possession of marijuana […]
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OLYMPIA, WA — Federal agents from the Drug Enforcement Agency raided four medical marijuana dispensaries in Washington on Wednesday, where voters have approved both the medical use of marijuana by authorized patients, as well as the recreational use of marijuana by adults 21 or older.
The raids appear to have been the result of a two year investigation by the DEA, and a continuation of a paramilitary crackdown on medical cannabis providers that began in 2011.
But what was the cost to taxpayers, who are unknowingly financing a federal government crackdown that defies the will of voters?
Wednesday’s raid on the four dispensaries in Washington may have cost an upwards of $12.3 million, according to analysts from Americans for Safe Access, a national patient rights organization.
OLYMPIA, WA — When Bayside Collective owner Casey Lee saw seven vehicles speed into the parking lot of his Olympia, Washington medical marijuana dispensary Wednesday morning, he thought he was being robbed, and told his employees to take cover.
“When I came outside, there were guns drawn on me,” Lee said Wednesday night. “And then I saw the badges.”
As DEA agents cleaned out the shelves of his dispensary, confiscating an estimated $2,500 worth of medical marijuana and 17 small marijuana plants, Lee says an agent asked him why he continued to remain in the business of providing medical marijuana.
“One of the DEA agents said: ‘This is your second raid and your third robbery. Why do you keep doing this?’” Lee said. ”I just told him it’s because we just enjoy helping people, and he told us that he wasn’t expecting that a. . . . . READ MORE
OLYMPIA, WA — Federal agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration launched a new battle in the war against medical marijuana dispensaries in Washington on Wednesday, raiding several medical marijuana dispensaries the Puget Sound region.
A number of dispensaries in the area were closed for business as word of the raids, which began around 11 am PDT, spread among the community.
DEA spokesperson Jodie Underwood confirmed Wednesday that an operation was currently under way, but declined to provide any details about how many dispensaries were being targeted or how many search warrants were being executed.
It has been reported that Seattle Cross, Tacoma Cross and Bayside Collective have been raided, but only the Bayside Collective in Olympia has been confirmed.
Addy Norton, an employee at Bayside Collective, told the Olympian that she was “terrified” during this morning’s raid, telling the newspaper that DEA agents pointed guns in her face as they entered the building.
Another employee from Bayside Collective, Casey Lee, said that agents took 11 or 12 plants and seized about a quarter pound of marijuana, but did not arrest anyone working at the dispensary, but would be federally subpoenaed.
“I don’t think we’re doing anything wrong here,” Lee told the Olympian. “This is really disturbing. We just opened last month.”
SEATTLE, WA — For three days in August, hundreds of thousands of people will descend on Myrtle Edwards and Centennial Parks on Seattle’s waterfront for the 22nd annual Hempfest, traditionally the largest annual gathering of pro-cannabis supporters in the world. But following last year’s historic passage of Initiative 502, which legalized the adult possession of marijuana in the state, this year’s Hempfest is promises one thing that the previous 21 were not: a victory celebration.
What started out as a “humble gathering of stoners” in 1991, conceived during a peace vigil in opposition of the first Gulf War and attracting a crowd of about 500 people has grown to a world-renown 3 day “protestival” celebrating human rights, equality, freedom, and of course, cannabis.
Spanning 1.3 miles, two public parks, six stages, more than 300 vendors and staffed by over 1,000 volunteers, Hempfest isn’t just the largest annual pro-pot rally in the world — it is also one of the largest special events in the State of Washington. With a Special Events permit requiring a $1 million insurance policy, emergency evacuation plans, safety and security personnel, Hempfest is not a “pot party in the park,” it is a bona-fide political rally who’s organizers work closely with city officials to ensure a successful — and peaceful — annual tradition.
SEATTLE, WA — In the sparse Seattle offices of Privateer Holdings, Brendan Kennedy grabs an iPad to show how his bet on legal marijuana is already payingdividends in the form of a Google results page for “blue cheese.”
When Web users search that term, high on the list is a link to reviews of the pot strain “blue cheese” on Leafly.com, the medical cannabis website Privateer bought a year and a half ago and which it calls the Yelp of weed.
“We’ve got Wikipedia blue cheese and pictures of blue cheese, and the third thing you see is the ‘blue cheese’ strain on Leafly,” Kennedy said as he displayed the Google results page. He says Leafly produces revenue of over $100,000 a month.
Popular interest in marijuana and moves by Washington state and Colorado to legalize recreational marijuana have led Kennedy’s two-year-old private equity firm and a handful of politically connected investors to dive into the pot business. Cannabis remains illegal under federal law.
Privateer this week said it closed a $7 million first round of fundraising. It also named to its board of directors Michael Auerbach, an investor with ties to former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.
A next round of Privateer fundraising. . . . . READ MORE
AMSTERDAM — The US states of Colorado and Washington voted last year to legalize marijuana and are moving forward toward implementing legalization. Activists in several states are lining up to try to do the same next year, and an even bigger push will happen in 2016.
With public opinion polls now consistently showing support for pot legalization at or above 50%, it appears that nearly a century of marijuana prohibition in the US is coming to an end.
Exactly how it comes to an end and what will replace it are increasingly important questions as we move from dreaming of legalization to actually making it happen. The Netherlands, which for decades now has allowed open marijuana consumption and sales at its famous coffee shops, provides some salutary lessons — if reformers, state officials, and politicians are willing to heed them.
To be clear, the Dutch have not legalized marijuana. The marijuana laws remain on the books, but are essentially overridden by the Dutch policy of “pragmatic tolerance,” at least as far as possession and regulated sales are concerned. Cultivation is a different matter, and that has proven the Achilles Heel of Dutch pot policy. Holland’s failure to allow for a system of legal supply for the coffee shops leaves shop owners to deal with illegal marijuana su. . . . . READ MORE
SEATTLE, WA – Redhook Brewery, the Northwest’s original craft brew, announced today the release of “Joint Effort,” a new hemp beer brewed in collaboration with Seattle’s Hilliard’s Beer that celebrates the legalization of marijuana in Washington State.
The relationship between the two breweries began with a Ballard bar-hopping trip down memory lane for Redhook’s brewing team. The area where it all started for Redhook in 1981 has since become known as the “Redhook District” and is a haven for beer lovers with a number of notable breweries opening and thriving. Among those is Hilliard’s Beer, founded in October 2011 by Ryan Hilliard and Adam Merkl.
“We have a real appreciation for the brewing energy in Ballard right now. Thirty years ago Redhook was exactly where guys like Hilliard’s, Reuben’s Brews and Populuxe are today,” said Karmen Olson, Redhook Brand Manager. “We’re stoked to be working with our friends at Hilliard’s and to raise a pint to our Emerald City heritage.”
Joint Effort is a session ale brewed with hemp seeds. Dry-hopped with Zeus, Cascade,. . . . . READ MORE
OLYMPIA, WA – Two Washington state regulators who are drafting rules for the state’s newly legal recreational marijuana industry said they would benefit from clearer directives by the federal government on how to build a system that would avoid being shut down.
Chris Marr, one of three appointed members of the state Liquor Control Board charged with drafting state pot rules, said the U.S. Department of Justice had so far provided scant guidance on how to develop an industry that federal authorities, who view pot as an illegal drug, won’t feel compelled to shutter.
“Policy is being established that will be a precursor for a large number of states,” Marr said. “It’s irresponsible. They should at least engage even if just for the purposes of information gathering.”
Washington and Colorado last November became the first U.S. states to legalize recreational pot use, even as the drug remains illegal under federal law, and both expect to have recreational-use marijuana stores open starting next year.
Despite the federal prohibition of cannabis, the states are proceeding with efforts to create rules for their nascent markets with provisions including advertising restrictions and security requirements for growing operations.
Engagement in those efforts could give federal authorities a voice in a pr. . . . . READ MORE
WASHINGTON, DC — US Congressmen Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) and Denny Heck (D-WA) introduced a bill Wednesday, along with 16 bipartisan co-sponsors, to reform federal banking laws as they apply to marijuana related businesses, both in the existing medical marijuana industry and the forthcoming recreational marijuana industry in their respective states.
The bill, US House Bill 2652, the Marijuana Business Access to Banking Act of 2013, would allow regulated, state authorized marijuana businesses — either medical or recreational — to have access to financial institutions. The bill would update federal banking rules to resolve conflicts between federal and state laws, promoting community safety and financial security, according to the bill’s sponsors.
Currently, even the most basic banking services, such as business checking accounts or merchant credit card processing services, are largely unavailable to the marijuana industry.
Federal regulators impose stiff punishments and penalize banks and their employees for providing services to marijuana related businesses. The result is legitimate, licensed and regulated businesses have extreme difficulty accessing the banking system to accept credit cards, deposit r. . . . . READ MORE