Marijuana legalization

Ed Andrieski / Associated Press

Marijuana-based businesses in Washington will be able to pay their taxes in cash, according to the state’s Department of Revenue. The agency is gearing up for more cash filers in its field offices.

Elaine Thompson / Associated Press

We’re about to find out the number of marijuana retail store locations that will be allowed in each of Washington’s 39 counties. The state’s Liquor Control Board plans to release that information Wednesday as part of the latest draft rules for Washington’s new legal pot marketplace.

AP Photo

Despite 75 years of federal marijuana prohibition, the Justice Department said Thursday that states can let people use the drug, license people to grow it and even allow adults to stroll into stores and buy it — as long as the weed is kept away from kids, the black market and federal property.

In a sweeping new policy statement prompted by pot legalization votes in Washington and Colorado last fall, the department gave the green light to states to adopt tight regulatory schemes to oversee the medical and recreational marijuana industries burgeoning across the country.

Elaine Thompson / Associated Press

Legal pot? Not so fast. That’s the message from a growing number of Washington cities.

Several municipalities are considering whether to pass a moratorium on pot-related businesses. Others, like Bellingham and Olympia, have already enacted temporary bans. 

Elaine Thompson / Associated Press

The chairman of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee wants to look into the conflicts between state and federal marijuana laws.

Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy says he's invited Attorney General Eric Holder and Deputy Attorney General James Cole to talk to the committee about the issue on Sept. 10.

Associated Press

As the state continues to hone its licensing rules for recreational marijuana businesses, local governments are working on land-use regulations that will determine where they can go. King County has drafted a new zoning law for unincorporated areas and is seeking public comment before it’s finalized. 

Elaine Thompson / Associated Press

Marijuana testing used to mean checking to see if someone had been smoking it.

But with Oregon, Washington and Colorado all making pot more widely available to the public, laboratory testing for safety, purity, potency and active ingredients is adding to the legitimacy of the drug.

Justin Steyer / KPLU

Washington state's new legal pot law is prompting a conversation about the place of hash and other potent, concentrated marijuana products in the industry.

The law doesn't allow the sale of pure hash or hash oil at state-licensed stores. But state regulators have issued draft rules saying the products can be sold — as long as they're mixed with something else, such as brownies, sodas or even a tiny drop of glycerin.

Ted S. Warren / Associated Press

Congress members from Colorado and Washington are planning to try again to help marijuana business access banking services.

Jeff Meade

Former Congressman Patrick Kennedy, son of the late Senator Ted Kennedy, is wading into Washington state’s marijuana legalization process. He’s opening a local chapter of his group that aims to educate people about the health risks of the drug.

Kennedy has struggled in the past with addiction to alcohol and prescription painkillers. And he’s admitted using marijuana in the past before learning about the health risks of today’s more potent cannabis.

Ted S. Warren / Associated Press

Bellingham is the latest local government in Washington state to place a moratorium on recreational marijuana businesses.  Some cities say it’s important to put a hold on things while the state works out the details of legalizing the retail sale of pot. Initiative 502, which passed last November, legalized the sale of  marijuana for recreational use.

Elaine Thompson / Associated Press

The stated goal of Washington’s new marijuana law is to stop treating adult pot use as a crime. But Washington’s pot consultant says this experiment in legalization will only work if the police aggressively target the black market. And he’s concerned that won’t happen.

Washington’s official pot logo is out. Outdoor marijuana grows are in. Those are just two of the changes to the proposed rules for the state’s new recreational marijuana market. The Liquor Control Board voted Wednesday to approve the revised regulations.

The biggest change in the rules comes as no surprise. The state will now allow outdoor marijuana grows as long as they’re fenced in. Liquor Board member Chris Marr explained why he and his colleagues had a change of heart about outdoor cultivation.

Ted S. Warren / Associated Press

As Washington state voters await clarification on what, exactly, legal marijuana will entail, one local pot dealer has taken to social media to connect with customers.

The state Liquor Control Board is working to draft a set of rules to regulate marijuana, which remains illegal under federal law. And although producing and distributing non-medical pot is still prohibited, Seattle police have taken to admonishing dealers with strongly-worded letters.

In this new murky landscape, one veteran dealer has found a new way to alert his customers about new shipment: Facebook.

Licensed outdoor marijuana grows may be allowed in Washington after all.

Staff at the state’s Liquor Control Board said Wednesday they’ve been persuaded by potential growers to consider alternatives to energy-intensive indoor pot production.

Meanwhile, medical marijuana patients rallied at the state Capitol in opposition possible new restrictions on them.

Elaine Thompson / Associated Press

More than half of Washington's congressional delegation is asking the U.S. government to respect the state's marijuana legalization effort.

In a letter released Tuesday, seven members of Congress asked the Department of Justice to not pre-empt the new law or prosecute residents acting in compliance with state law. They also asked federal officials to provide guidance on the U.S. government's legal response to a marijuana industry.

After winning the 2013 Regional Edward R. Murrow Award in the Best Audio News Series category for its election series, “If it’s legal: Five ways legal pot could affect your life,” the KPLU News team is proud to add the prestigious 2013 National Edward R. Murrow Award to its list of accolades for the series. 

The National Edward R. Murrow Awards will be presented by the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTNDA) on Columbus Day in New York.

Washington’s Liquor Control Board has been inundated with feedback on its proposed marijuana regulations. The deadline to submit comments was Monday. The Board is writing the rules for legalized cannabis. Among the many concerns: the state’s new pot logo.

It’s called the Produced in Washington icon. It’s an outline of the state with a marijuana leaf in the middle. The idea was to require this label be affixed to any package containing marijuana sold at a retail store.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

A Seattle investment group has declared the advent of “Big Marijuana,” but big questions remain about just how their multimillion dollar nationwide pot business would work.

Chuck used to sell marijuana in California. But the legalization of medical marijuana in the state meant he was suddenly competing against hundreds of marijuana dispensaries. So he moved to New York, where marijuana is still 100 percent illegal. Since making the move, he says, he's quadrupled his income. (For the record: His name isn't really Chuck.)

Ted S. Warren / Associated Press

Washington’s proposed marijuana rules weren't even 24-hours old when critics began finding things not to like. The 46-pages of draft regulations released Thursday cover everything from where marijuana can be grown to the criminal backgrounds of license applicants. But it’s the section on marijuana concentrates that’s getting some negative buzz.

Liquor Control Board

The state Liquor Control Board on Thursday released a draft of rules proposed to help regulate legal marijuana. The 46-page document is filled with details relevant to those who plan to apply for a pot license.

Here are five things non-license seekers should know about the proposed rules:

Elaine Thompson / Associated Press

 Officials in Washington state took their first stab at setting rules for the state's new marijuana industry Thursday, nearly eight months after voters here legalized pot for adults.

Among the preliminary regulations: They want to track marijuana from "seed to store," and while they're putting a cap on the number of retail stores in each county, they're not planning to limit the number of licensed pot growers or processors.

Austin Jenkins

Entrepreneurs who hope to cash in on legal marijuana will have some heavy reading to do Thursday. That’s when Washington’s Liquor Control Board is expected to release nearly 50 pages of proposed rules for growers, processors and retailers. But there is another pot rulebook that’s also in development.

It’s called the Cannabis Monograph. Think of it as an illustrated bible for pot quality control. It’s a technical but colorful handbook for testing labs to ensure the identity, purity, and quality of legal pot.

That Hardford Guy / Flickr

An annual march to support legalization of marijuana will take to Seattle streets Saturday. The Cannabis Freedom March will feature a mock funeral procession for cannabis prohibition, complete with a hearse. Organizers say the time has come to lay anti-marijuana laws to rest.

“2013 is the year to really push,” said organizer Sharon Whitson with Hempfest. “We have legalized cannabis in Colorado, and here in Washington state. We have a number of other states seriously looking at it. And a few states, over the course of this year, have legalized medicinal cannabis, as well.”

Ashley Gross / KPLU

The first state-licensed marijuana stores are still almost a year away, but business-minded people are already chasing profits. Today, entrepreneurs are pitching their pot-related ideas to dozens of wealthy investors in Seattle. 

San Francisco-based ArcView Investor Network arranged the private forum akin to the TV show “Shark Tank.” Entrepreneurs will have a few minutes to pitch their idea—which includes everything from better grow lights to handheld vaporizers, to mobile apps for marijuana retailers—and explain why their idea is a worthy investment.

Ted S. Warren / Associated Press

Marijuana legalization could be going back to the ballot in Colorado — a prospect that infuriated pot legalization activists Friday.

The marijuana ballot measure proposal went public as the House started debate on bills to regulate and tax pot. One bill would state how pot should be grown and sold, and the other would tax recreational marijuana more than 30 percent.

The House has approved a measure prosecutors and crime lab scientists say is needed because of concerns that a provision in Washington's new legal marijuana law jeopardizes their ability to go after any pot crimes at all.

The measure, passed on a 95-1 vote Friday, defines marijuana as part of the cannabis plant containing more than 0.3 percent of delta-9 THC and THC acid. Supporters said the change was a technical fix needed to help police and prosecutors distinguish marijuana from industrial hemp, which is grown for its fiber.

Ed Andrieski / Associated Press

The Colorado Court of Appeals has ruled that there is no employment protection for people who use marijuana.

In a split decision issued on Thursday, the court said marijuana use is still barred by the federal government, even though state-licensed marijuana use has been approved by voters and is considered lawful.

"For an activity to be lawful in Colorado, it must be permitted by, and not contrary to, both state and federal law," the appeals court said.

Prosecutors and crime lab scientists say a little-noticed provision in Washington's new legal marijuana law has jeopardized their ability to go after any pot crimes at all, and they're calling for an immediate fix in the Legislature.

The problem stems from a part of the law meant to distinguish marijuana from industrial hemp, which is grown for its fiber. The law defines marijuana as having more than 0.3 percent of a certain intoxicating compound, called delta-9 THC.