Political Buzz

Talking WA politics.

NOTICE: Political Buzz has moved.

With the launch of our new website, we've moved Political Buzz.
Visit the new section.

Tag: Medical Marijuana

Jan.
30th

Bipartisan group of lawmakers joins Gregoire in calling for marijuana downgrade

At least 42 Washington state lawmakers — including seven Republicans — want the Obama administration to reclassify marijuana to allow it to be prescribed and distributed as medicine without running afoul of federal law.

The group wrote a letter to the Drug Enforcement Administration today in support of a petition by Gov. Chris Gregoire and Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee. The goal is to downgrade Schedule I marijuana to Schedule II, a group that includes cocaine and methamphetamine but does acknowledge drugs’ medical uses.

Signers include Tacoma Democrats Steve Conway, Jeannie Darneille, Laurie Jinkins and Debbie Regala; Thurston County Democrats Karen Fraser,

Read more »

Nov.
30th

Gov. Gregoire asks feds to change legal status of marijuana

Gov. Chris Gregoire is petitioning the federal government today to reclassify marijuana to allow it to be prescribed as a medicine.

She is following up on a promise made this winter when she refused to go along the Legislature’s proposal to legalize and license medical-marijuana dispensaries, saying that would subject state employees to federal prosecution.

Washington does allow medical professionals to write authorizations for marijuana, under a system that isn’t recognized by federal law governing prescription drugs.

Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, a political independent, joined Washington’s Democratic governor in urging the Drug Enforcement Administration to acknowledge the drug’s medical

Read more »

Aug.
2nd

Tacoma City Council sets moratorium on marijuana dispensaries, collective gardens

Sellers of medical marijuana aren’t legal in Tacoma, city lawyers contend.

Today the City Council temporarily banned them anyway.

Mayor Marilyn Strickland said the six-month moratorium she proposed and the council unanimously approved is merely a prelude to future regulation that she hopes will license legitimate sellers and allow them to operate.

The moratorium bans dispensaries as well as the so-called collective gardens that were legalized by the Legislature this year. The gardens are forbidden whether or not they are connected to a business.

The ban probably won’t have much effect on the dozens of existing storefront medical-marijuana providers in Tacoma. That’s because the city is already going through the legal process of trying to shut them down — while allowing them to remain open as their appeals proceed and the council thinks about how to regulate them.

Those that might have to worry are new operations that are not already embroiled in legal appeals with the city, or people who are thinking about opening such a business.

“If you do, we’re going to shut you down,” Strickland said.

But while a shutdown might start with sending a letter, it’s not clear what happens after that. Would police raid the place? City Manager Rey Arellano said he and his staff hasn’t yet decided on an enforcement strategy.

The moratorium leaves it to Arellano to enforce the law — “in a manner that will continue to preserve legal access to medical cannabis for qualifying patients.”

That means in effect that the city won’t take any new enforcement action against existing businesses, city staff and council members said. Read more »

July
20th

No decisions yet on marijuana by Tacoma City Council

Seattle is getting ready to license medical-marijuana providers. Kent, Federal Way and Fife have temporarily banned them. Tacoma hasn’t taken action.

But the City Council doesn’t have much longer to wait out the issue.

Key dates loom: A new state law takes effect Friday. A hearing is Monday for dozens of marijuana dispensaries ordered by city government to shut down, which the City Council postponed last October after public complaints. And by August 10, council members must decide whether to approve a measure signed by thousands of voters making pot “the lowest enforcement priority” for Tacoma police. If they do nothing, it will go to the November ballot.

Some advocates are impatient.

“This is where we lack leadership on our City Council,” said Sherry Bockwinkel, a leader of the Initiative 1 campaign. “They were the ones who forced this issue last October, and they are the only city that’s done nothing.”

“It’s like they all went asleep at the switch.”

Council members say they have questions about their legal options. They want to regulate sellers to weed out the bad ones and keep the legitimate ones safe and far from places like schools. But some look askance at their neighbor to the north.

“I will look to see what Seattle is doing, but I think Seattle, like a lot of cities in California and Colorado, are kind of taking what I call a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ position,” Mayor Marilyn Strickland said, adding that’s threatened public safety in some places in California. “But it’s not an easy place for us.”

Council members put the blame on Olympia. Read more »

July
18th

AG: Cannabis same as marijuana, some doctor’s orders still in effect

Cannabis is the same thing as marijuana, the attorney general’s office says.

While most everybody watching the legislative debate knew that the words were used interchangeably, activist Steve Sarich was worried. When state law takes effect requiring a medical authorization for cannabis, Sarich argues patients with an authorization for marijuana might be out of luck.

According to state lawyers, some of them might be.

Authorization cards issued prior to June 10, 2010 are still legal, an attorney in Rob McKenna’s office argued in a legal brief filed last week in response to Sarich’s lawsuit that aims to stop the

Read more »

July
6th

Tacoma: Cannabis measure qualifies for November ballot

A proposed initiative that seeks to minimize enforcement of marijuana-related offenses in Tacoma has qualified for the city’s November ballot.

Tacoma Initiative No. 1 today surpassed the required goal of 3,858 valid signatures from registered city voters,  the Pierce County Auditor’s office confirmed.

“The petition was determined to be sufficient with a total of 3,934 valid signatures verified,” Pierce County Elections Manager Michael Rooney wrote in an official letter of verification to City Clerk Doris Sorum.

But even while celebrating the measure’s qualification for the ballot,  campaign supporters say they hope the issue won’t have to go before voters. 

Read more »

July
5th

Tacoma: Cannabis measure on verge of qualifying for November ballot

With three days to go and some 114 petitions left to count, a proposed initiative that seeks to minimize enforcement of marijuana-related offenses in Tacoma appears headed for the November ballot.

Tacoma Initiative No. 1 still needs 352 valid  signatures to reach a 3,858-signature goal by July 8,  the Pierce County Auditor’s office reported at close of business Tuesday.

But initiative supporters, who turned in more than 1,500 additional signatures on Tuesday,  are confident they’ve already achieved the goal.

“This is a great day to be living in the City of Tacoma,” said Sherry Bockwinkel, a veteran signature gatherer who is a key volunteer for the campaign.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Pierce County elections officials had actually deemed more signatures as disqualified than valid from the stacks of petitions so far turned in by the pro-cannabis campaign.  In all, 4,594 signatures were thrown out, compared to 3,503 ruled valid.

More than 2,700 were disqualified because the people who signed them were not registered voters.  Another 1,224 were deemed invalid because those signing live in a voting district outside of Tacoma.

Other reasons for disqualification included signatures that were duplicates (318) , illegible (284),  printed instead of signed (42), or could not be matched to past signatures (42) or addresses (9) on file.  One signature was disqualified because the signer did not previously have a signature on file as a point of comparison; while another signature came from a  felon who is ineligible to vote,  the auditor’s office reported.

Still, with 114 petitions — each containing as many as 20 signatures — still to be checked, the numbers appear to be tilting in the campaign’s favor.  The auditor’s office will resume validation checks on Wednesday.

Read more »