Tag: Washington

Jeff Sessions Giving You Trouble? Washington State AG Wants to Know

Washington state officials sent up a flare over the state’s legal cannabis industry this week, asking operators to speak up about problems that have arisen in the wake of US Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recent rescission of the Cole memo.

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An alert sent Monday by the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board requests that businesses relay any Sessions-related troubles to the office of state Attorney General Bob Ferguson—a sign that Ferguson’s office could be gearing up to mount a challenge to the Justice Department.

(Courtesy of the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board)

“If you have experienced a change in your business practices or customer relationships that you believe is connected to the Sessions Memo,” the bulletin says, “we invite you to share your experiences.” It refers respondents to a dedicated email address at the AG’s office: marijuanaimpacts@atg.wa.gov.

The office could be looking for a posterchild for Jeff Sessions’ misplaced attack on legal cannabis.

It’s no surprise, of course, that the state’s top attorney has a stake in keeping tabs on cannabis at a time when federal raids or lawsuits could come without warning. But there are signs that the unassuming announcement could be more than just a status check. The notice is similar to what attorneys in private practice send out when they’re in search of sympathetic plaintiffs to bring a lawsuit.

In other words, the office could be looking for a posterchild for Jeff Sessions’ misplaced attack on legal cannabis.

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It’s speculative, sure, but Ferguson would be a likely candidate to mount a charge against Sessions. His office hasn’t been shy about suing the Trump administration, having filed or signed onto nearly 20 suits since Trump took office.

On top of that, the notice was sent by Washington state cannabis regulators. Ferguson’s office has yet to issue a press release about the matter. That means the announcement is likely aimed not at winning media attention but at connecting directly with members of the cannabis industry.

If the state AG’s office could demonstrate that Sessions’ actions have harmed legal cannabis businesses, lawyers for the state could more easily challenge them in court. Even absent a lawsuit, industry experiences could be used to make a political case against Sessions. Showing that Sessions threw an otherwise well-regulated state system into chaos, for example, could be potent fodder at a time when congressional leaders are eyeing stronger cannabis protections at the federal level.

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At an event in October, I asked Ferguson how his office would respond to signs of a coming crackdown by the Trump administration. “We would defend Washington’s interests,” he said at the time.

Ferguson was more guarded about the strategy he might use, saying only, “We think we have good legal arguments.”

Monday’s announcement may suggest that one such argument is in the making.


Thanks you for visiting FLMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Florida. Currently, there is a Medical Marijuana Initiative on the November 2016 Ballot to legalize High-THC Medical Marijuana in the State of Florida. The FLMMCC Florida State Licensed Doctors are ready to review your medical records for a “FREE Pre-Qualification”. This will be the first step in becoming a legal Florida Medical Marijuana patient when the law passes.

Here’s Where US Attorneys Stand on Cannabis Enforcement

Don’t expect Jeff Sessions’ undoing of the Cole memo to unleash a nationwide crackdown. By rescinding Justice Department guidelines that encouraged federal prosecutors to take a hands-off approach in legal states, the attorney general isn’t so much dropping bombs as he is encouraging his lieutenants to fire at will. It will be up to individual US attorneys to pull the trigger.

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In other words, a crackdown on state-legal cannabis, if it comes, will likely happen unevenly. District by district, US attorneys will decide for themselves how to enforce federal cannabis law—or whether to enforce it at all. This is exactly what we saw in California during the last major federal crackdown, in 2011 and 2012. US attorneys in some parts of the state tried to close every dispensary in their districts, while others allowed shops to operate unimpeded.

US attorneys are playing their cards very close to their chests.

In this new normal, it’s crucial to understand not just Sessions’ views, but also where each US attorney stands on cannabis. To that end, we’re tracking how US attorneys in legal states have responded to the removal of the Cole memo—and how likely they are to take action.

You’ll notice a common theme as you read through this piece: US attorneys are playing their cards very close to their chests. Most have issued murky statements that can be interpreted in a number of ways. We’ve done our best to parse the available information and add to those statements to get a better sense of the risk of prosecution in that district.

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Initially we’ll be looking at states that have legalized adult-use cannabis. This page will be updated to include more information about US attorneys in medical-only states.

Each state has at least one federal district. A US attorney acts as the chief federal prosecutor for his or her district. (Courtesy of the US Department of Justice)

Alaska

US Attorney Brian D. Schroder, a Trump appointee whom the Senate confirmed in November, isn’t giving us much to go on. He said in a statement shortly after Sessions’ announcement that his office would continue using “long-established principles” in deciding which cases to charge. He added that violent crime, including that which stems from drug crimes, has been a top priority. His office has declined to comment further.

Schroder’s statement—like his record on cannabis—is awfully thin. Aside from any violent incidents in the state system, which would almost certainly draw his attention, it’s not yet clear what action, if any, his office might take.

Prosecution Risk: UNKNOWN

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California

Central District (Los Angeles)

Interim US Attorney Nicola T. Hanna took his post last week, when Sessions appointed him and 16 others as interim US attorneys. So far both Hanna and his predecessor, Sandra Brown, have been mum on enforcement, which could be an ominous sign if the office weren’t in the midst of a transition. As it is, it doesn’t tell us much.

It’s worth noting that Hanna was a federal prosecutor in Los Angeles and San Diego during the 1990s, when the war on drugs was in full swing. He then left the office for private practice, taking a position at the international firm Gibson Dunn. He hasn’t said much on cannabis, but in the 2016 presidential election, records show he gave $2,700 to the campaign of Chris Christie—a notorious anti-cannabis crusader.

Complicating it all, Hanna’s gig is only temporary. As an interim US attorney, he can serve for 120 days until President Trump must appoint someone and seek Senate confirmation.

Prosecution Risk: LOW/MEDIUM

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Eastern District (Sacramento)

US Attorney Scott W. McGregor, a Trump appointee currently awaiting Senate confirmation, already held the position under President George W. Bush. While in office, he targeted large-scale cannabis operations and developed a reputation for seeking harsh sentences. As the Sacramento Bee reports, at the time he asked local authorities to refer cannabis cases to federal prosecutors. He also went after a pair of dispensary operators who were convicted in 2008 and each sentenced to 20 or more years in prison. (President Barack Obama granted one of the two men clemency in 2017. The other is still behind bars.)

Following Sessions’ memo, McGregor spokesperson Lauren Horwood said the office would evaluate possible enforcement actions “in accordance with our district’s federal law enforcement priorities and resources.” That’s pretty standard boilerplate and doesn’t tell us much, but McGregor’s enforcement history suggests he wouldn’t be shy about going after cannabis businesses if he feels they’re too far out of line.

“He used to be a hardcore, anti-cannabis drug warrior,” Sebastopol lawyer Omar Figueroa told the Sacramento Bee. “I hope he has evolved.”

Prosecution Risk: MEDIUM

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Northern District (San Francisco)

Acting US Attorney Alex G. Tse took over for former US Attorney Brian Stretch, who announced through a spokesperson on Jan. 4 that he would be leaving the post. It was the same day Sessions rescinded the Cole memo, though Stretch said the announcement was not the reason for his departure.

Despite their San Francisco office location, Northern District prosecutors have a reputation for interfering with California’s legal-cannabis system even when local officials push back. The office famously undertook—and famously lost—a multiyear case against Oakland’s Harborside Health Center, perhaps the state’s best-known dispensary.

Tse, for his part, spent most of the 2011-12 federal crackdown in California working in the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office. The experience likely gave him an understanding of the close working relationship between federal and local authorities—something that might give him pause before bringing cases against locally approved, state-licensed businesses.

Prosecution Risk: LOW

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Southern District (San Diego)

Interim US Attorney Adam L. Braverman was appointed by Jeff Sessions in November, though he’s been a federal prosecutor in the Southern District since 2008. His focus was large, international drug-trafficking cartels, and after being sworn in as US attorney last year, he said he wanted to prioritize “those crimes committed by transnational criminal organizations.”

On its face, that seems just fine. State-legal cannabis has shrunk the illegal market in the United States, and Braverman may rightly see prosecuting licensed businesses as a surefire way to reinvigorate cartels. But sometimes when you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

More worrisome is Braverman’s statement following the Sessions memo: “The Department of Justice is committed to reducing violent crime and enforcing the laws as enacted by Congress. The cultivation, distribution, and possession of marijuana has long been and remains a violation of federal law,” he said. “We will continue to utilize long-established prosecutorial priorities to carry out our mission to combat violent crime, disrupt and dismantle transnational criminal organizations, and stem the rising tide of the drug crisis.”

If Braverman does his homework, he’ll see that legalization tends to accomplish those priorities. But if he views legal cannabis as part of the problem, watch out.

Prosecution Risk: MEDIUM

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 Colorado

(Courtesy of DOJ)

US Attorney Robert C. Troyer became an acting US attorney in 2016 and was appointed interim US attorney by Jeff Sessions in November. Asked by the Denver Post about the Sessions memo, Troyer’s office provided this response:

Here is the question we ask every time we consider allocating our finite resources to prosecute any of the vast number of federal crimes we can prosecute, from violent crime to immigration crime to opioid crime: Will this prosecution make Colorado safer? … Under the attorney general’s new memo, we have more freedom and flexibility to make decisions that make Colorado safer by prosecuting individuals and organizations for marijuana crimes that significantly threaten our community safety.

US attorneys often point to their own district’s unique needs when explaining their enforcement priorities, so this doesn’t tell us much—although it does suggest Troyer could take action in response to local officials who believe legal cannabis is a threat to public safety, as has happened in past crackdowns.

For now, Troyer said he would “continue to take” the approach his office has been using—suggesting not much will change in the short term. Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman told the Post that she had asked Troyer to “please notify me … if there is going to be any change in those priorities or in those actions so that we have a heads-up. And I have his agreement that he will do that.”​ In the meantime, she said, “I would encourage people not to freak out.”

Prosecution Risk: LOW/MEDIUM

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Maine

(Courtesy of DOJ)

US Attorney Halsey B. Frank, a Trump nominee, was confirmed by the Senate in October. To his credit, he’s issued a lengthy statement on the Sessions move. Unfortunately, like most other US attorney statements so far, it doesn’t offer much in the way of clarity. “My job is to enforce federal law, not countermand it,” Frank said. “I do not have the authority to categorically declare that my office will not prosecute a class of crime or persons.”

Unlike some other US attorneys, Frank has spoken out publicly against legalized cannabis in the past. In a 2013 column in The Forecaster newspaper (published after the Cole memo), he wrote that when “there is a conflict between state and federal law, federal law prevails.” Maine’s state law, which at the time allowed medical use of cannabis, “is not a defense to federal prosecution for manufacturing or distributing marijuana,” he wrote.

Lest you think he was just opining on legal procedure, he also included this veiled jab at legalization: “Society can only tolerate a certain number of intoxicated people on its streets and highways, at school, at work and at play.” (You can read his full column here.)

One bright spot, especially for individuals: Frank’s recent statement notes that his office “has prioritized the prosecution of cases involving the trafficking of opiates, cocaine, crack and similar hard drugs.” Prosecuting individuals for possession, he said, “has not been a priority.”

Prosecution Risk: MEDIUM

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Massachusetts

US Attorney Andrew E. Lelling, a Trump nominee, was confirmed by the Senate in December. In response to the Sessions memo, he issued a statement saying he could not “provide assurances that certain categories of participants in the state-level marijuana trade will be immune from federal prosecution.”

This is a straightforward rule of law issue.  Congress has unambiguously made it a federal crime to cultivate, distribute and/or possess marijuana.  As a law enforcement officer in the Executive Branch, it is my sworn responsibility to enforce that law, guided by the Principles of Federal Prosecution.  To do that, however, I must proceed on a case-by-case basis, assessing each matter according to those principles and deciding whether to use limited federal resources to pursue it.

This has the noncommittal air of some other US attorneys’ statements, but the tone is comparatively harsh. While it doesn’t signal a categorical crackdown on cannabis businesses, it certainly suggests the office could bring targeted actions against certain state-legal actors.

More worrisome is the relative lack of local pushback to Sessions rescinding the Cole memo. While officials in many other legal states have decried the move, Massachusetts elected officials, many of whom opposed the 2016 ballot question that legalized cannabis, have been relatively quiet.

Prosecution Risk: MEDIUM/HIGH

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Nevada

Interim US Attorney Dayle Elieson was one of 17 interim US attorneys appointed by Sessions last week. Before the appointment, she was an assistant US attorney in Texas, where she focused on fraud, money laundering, and terrorism. As a new arrival to Nevada, she’s a relatively unknown quantity, and Nevada officials are eagerly awaiting further guidance from the office.

“I know that the US attorney in Colorado has already said that he is not going to enforce federal laws against the legalized marijuana industry in that state,” Gov. Brian Sandoval told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “I would like to see something similar here in Nevada, but that’s a discussion that needs to be had.” (It’s worth noting that Sandoval may be overstating assurances by Colorado US Attorney Robert C. Troyer; see the Massachusetts section of this story, above.)

Nevada’s legal cannabis program has strong support from state and local officials, which could help dissuade Elieson from taking a hardline stance legal against legal cannabis while still new to the office. Federal prosecutors tend to work closely with local law enforcement and other partners, and targeting cannabis could risk hurting those relationships.

As an interim US attorney, Elieson’s post is only temporary. She’ll be able to serve for 120 days before Trump must nominate someone for the position and seek Senate confirmation.

Prosecution Risk: UNKNOWN

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Oregon

(Courtesy of DOJ)

US Attorney Billy J. Williams, who became an acting US attorney in 2015 and was nominated by Trump in November to remain in the post, has already expressed concerns with the state’s cannabis regulatory system. In an interview with the Associated Press last year, he complained about what he said was insufficient enforcement by the state to prevent cannabis from being illegally exported to states where it’s not legal. Stopping diversion to other states was a key piece of the now-rescinded Cole memo.

Following Sessions’ move last week, Williams put out the following statement:

As noted by Attorney General Sessions, today’s memo on marijuana enforcement directs all U.S. Attorneys to use the reasoned exercise of discretion when pursuing prosecutions related to marijuana crimes. We will continue working with our federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement partners to pursue shared public safety objectives, with an emphasis on stemming the overproduction of marijuana and the diversion of marijuana out of state, dismantling criminal organizations and thwarting violent crime in our communities.

It sounds like Williams might be OK with Oregon’s cannabis program when it works, but failures—including things like diversion, violence, or illegal sales to minors—could prompt him to take action. So he’s presumably not too pleased with reports like one issued this week by Oregon cannabis regulators that found a number of stores around the state that reportedly sold cannabis to minors.

Prosecution Risk: LOW/MEDIUM

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Washington, DC

US Attorney Jessie K. Liu, a Trump nominee whom the Senate confirmed in September, has said through a spokesperson that the office is “committed to reducing violent crime and dismantling criminal gangs and large-scale drug distribution networks that pose a threat to public safety.”

Washington, DC, is unusual in that it allows individuals to grow, possess, consume, and even give away cannabis but, due to pressure from federal lawmakers, forbids purchases or sales. The laws have led to the emergence of a thriving gray market in which consumers make “donations” or purchase other items and are “gifted” cannabis as part of the transaction. Liu may take a closer look at these businesses—they are, after all, operating in Jeff Sessions’ backyard—but it seems unlikely at this point that she’ll bring cases against individuals who follow the law.

Prosecution Risk: LOW/MEDIUM

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Washington State

Eastern District (Spokane)

Interim US Attorney Joseph Harrington was another of the 17 interim US attorneys appointed by Sessions last week. He’s a longtime federal prosecutor, with nearly three decades of experience handling the office’s criminal division, health care cases, and terrorism matters.

Harrington has said hardly anything about how Sessions’ move would affect his office’s cannabis enforcement. Immediately following the undoing of the Cole memo, he directed questions directly to the main Justice Department press office in Washington, DC. The Eastern District, nevertheless, has come to be seen as an aggressive enforcer by many in the state’s legal cannabis industry. The office sought criminal charges, for example, against a family of medical cannabis patients who became known as the Kettle Falls Five.

Harrington filed a motion in October to put that case on pause, noting that a federal spending provision—which had been adopted three years earlier and halted a blockbuster California case in May 2016—prevented the case from going forward. But that provision, the Rohrabacher–Blumenauer amendment, is set to expire later this month, and it only blocks prosecutions against medical operations. Currently nothing stands in the way of Harrington bringing cases against the state’s many adult-use businesses.

Prosecution Risk: MEDIUM

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Western District (Seattle)

US Attorney Annette L. Hayes, who became acting US attorney in 2014 after her predecessor resigned, remained in the position after President Barack Obama declined to make an appointment. On the day Sessions rescinded the Cole memo, she issued this statement:

Today the Attorney General reiterated his confidence in the basic principles that guide the discretion of all U.S. Attorneys around the country, and directed that those principles shepherd enforcement of federal law regarding marijuana.  He also emphasized his belief that U.S. Attorneys are in the best position to address public safety in their districts, and address the crime control problems that are pressing in their communities.  Those principles have always been at the core of what the United States Attorney’s Office for Western Washington has done – across all threats to public safety, including those relating to marijuana.  As a result, we have investigated and prosecuted over many years cases involving organized crime, violent and gun threats, and financial crimes related to marijuana.  We will continue to do so to ensure – consistent with the most recent guidance from the Department – that our enforcement efforts with our federal, state, local and tribal partners focus on those who pose the greatest safety risk to the people and communities we serve.

This may be the most supportive statement of state-legal cannabis to come out of a US attorney’s office in the wake of Sessions’ announcement. Read between the lines. Hayes’ almost cheeky use of “reiterated” suggests little or nothing has changed in her eyes. Rather than read Sessions’ move as a sign the attorney general wants to see more cannabis cases—which, given Sessions’ views on cannabis, it almost certainly was—Hayes’ comments interpret the memo as an endorsement of local discretion. “Thanks for trusting us to do a good job,” the statement seems to say. It’s likely that wasn’t by accident.

Prosecution Risk: LOW

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Thanks you for visiting FLMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Florida. Currently, there is a Medical Marijuana Initiative on the November 2016 Ballot to legalize High-THC Medical Marijuana in the State of Florida. The FLMMCC Florida State Licensed Doctors are ready to review your medical records for a “FREE Pre-Qualification”. This will be the first step in becoming a legal Florida Medical Marijuana patient when the law passes.

Best in State: The Top Cannabis Locations, Products, and Activities in Washington in 2017


Our Best in State series spotlights the top cannabis dispensaries, companies, products, and activities in the largest cannabis markets in 2017.

Year after year, it’s a privilege watching any cannabis market grow into a mature industry. I’ve had the good fortune of watching this happen in Washington, which legalized at the same time as Colorado but has evolved further outside the spotlight. In many ways, that’s made for a market more centered around consumers (as opposed to, say, tourists), which has its benefits. Case in point: The dispensaries, products, and experiences you see below.

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From ultra-curated boutique stores and deeply knowledgeable budtenders to concentrates, edibles, and awesome things to do while high, the Evergreen State lives up to its name with incredible cannabis in every category. Below, check out the best of Washington in 2017.

Best Overall Dispensary: Have a Heart

Seattle and Bothell, WA

Have a Heart transitioned seamlessly from a beloved mini-chain of medical dispensaries to a top-tier group of recreational stores appealing to customers from all walks of life. Whether you’re a tourist, patient, aficionado, or occasional social smoker, there is something for absolutely everyone here.

Colville, WA

Given that most of Washington’s cannabis is grown east of the mountains, it makes sense that lower transportation costs and cheaper rent make for cheaper cannabis in Eastern Washington. That’s certainly the case at Herbal Escents, in the far Northeastern corner of the state, where you can find many products at lower prices that you’d expect elsewhere. What truly makes Herbal Escents stand out, though, is their team’s outstanding knowledge of every single product in the store, and an easy-to-follow layout that lets you find exactly what you’re looking for.

Best Boutique Dispensary: Vela

The Ultimate Summer Cannabis Road Trip Through Washington State | Leafly(Courtesy of Vela)

Seattle, WA

Everything at Vela is impeccably curated, from their top-shelf flower to their premium topicals. In addition to housing a cannabis grow and extraction lab next door to the dispensary (at which curious visitors can peer through a window), Vela goes above and beyond in terms of hosting community events with distinguished speakers, welcoming customers and groups ranging from millennials to senior citizens, and designing their space for a next-level shopping experience.

Best Budtender: Ben Perez, Dockside SoDo

Seattle, WA

The whole team at Dockside is pretty fantastic, but Ben Perez in particular stands out. He’s a communicative, levelheaded cannabis buff who first and foremost identifies with the customer, and thus understands the value of cannabis at multiple price points. He recognizes and recommends great quality and great craftsmanship from bottom shelf to top, and always tells it like it is, which the consumer benefits from in terms of knowledge, new product finds, and overall experience.

Seattle, WA

Located in SoDo, House of Cultivar’s cutting-edge program puts science first, and their state-of-the-art facility includes about 300 live mother plants and a lab for cloning and culturing cannabis tissue. The company’s brilliant engineer-driven team is constantly looking for ways to push what we can do with cannabis forward. They’re also aware of their impact in terms of sustainability, and set a positive example by reducing their environmental impact and working with local government to constantly improve their business practices.

(Leafly)

Seattle, WA

We’ve talked a lot about Lemonder this year, but this standout strain just keeps winning the hearts of ever more devotees. The strain’s greatest appeal lies in its terpene-laden flavor profile, derived from a ménage of the fragrant indica Lavender, woodsy hybrid OG Kush, and sweet-and-sour sativa Super Lemon Haze (all three of which made our 100 Must-Try Strains list, by the way).

Tacoma, WA

In our inaugural blind tasting of the top THC-dominant cannabis flower in Washington, we graded each cannabis strain on a 100-point scale and Middlefork by Royal Tree, with 95 points, came out on top. A Bellingham-bred strain with fizzy orange flavor and plenty of pine notes on the exhale, this strain stood out in pretty much every category (aroma, flavor, cure, and effects).

Auburn, WA

If you listen to our cannabis products podcast, you’ve probably heard about Oleum ad nauseum, but that’s why they top this list: We simply can’t find anything better. This product undergoes a proprietary filtration process (C-Thru) to remove everything but the pure, concentrated cannabinoids and terpenes, as well as pseudopolymorphism (what Oleum calls the Crystal Honey process). The result? Oleum is making the most flavorful dabs on the Washington market in 2017.

Best Edible: Peppermint Patties by Goodship

(Courtesy of Goodship)

Seattle, WA

New to the market from an old standard, Goodship Peppermint Patties are pure THC wrapped up in a melt-in-your-mouth confection from the woman who brought Cupcake Royale to the market.

Editor’s note: Leafly and Goodship are owned by the same company.

Best Topical: Flow CBD Gel by Fairwinds

Vancouver, WA

This product looks, feels, and works like the future of cannabis topicals. It blends in with any other salves and serums on your nightstand with nary a hint of gratuitous green or pot leaf branding, it smells like pure lemons, rather than skunky plant matter, and it works like magic. This may be the most accessible product in the industry today; it’s not going to scare a single person (no matter their experience level) away from cannabis.

Poulsbo, WA

Green Revolution (known earlier this year as Ethos) has become one of the most recognizable brands on the market (even as they’ve rebranded), and we count on them to deliver top-of-the-line tinctures in particular. The water-based CBD tincture, weighing in at 5:1 (250mg CBD, 50mg THC), leverages a perfect ratio for CBD-focused benefits with just a bit of THC to boot.

(@scolariglass/Instagram)

Olalla, WA

Scolari is one of the top glass brands in the state, and for good reason. Beautiful, functional, and original in design, we follow Scolari on Instagram because we can’t get enough of these drop-dead gorgeous pieces.

Central Cascades (Leavenworth area), WA

Washington affords its residents outrageously good hiking opportunities, and the Enchantments in the central Cascade mountains are the crown jewel. While hiking the area isn’t easy, it affords perhaps the most stunning views in the state (and trust us, they’re twice as good while you’re high) via day hikes to locales like Snow Lake or longer summer backpacking trips (for which would-be hikers must apply for a permit). That said, the Enchantments are on federal land (so while being high there is absolutely incredible, it’s technically illegal to bring cannabis along). For those who prefer to play it safer, we also recommend getting completely blazed and seeing Laser Floyd: The Wall at Seattle’s Pacific Science Center under the largest domed laser theater in the world.

Best High Food: Walla Walla Chicken Burrito by Taqueria Mi Pueblito

Walla Walla, WA

Do you love massive burritos? Do you like dishes stuffed with juicy chicken, stringy melted cheese, caramelized local sweet onions, and fresh avocado? Do you enjoy paying about $7 for something that will provide you with two full meals? If so, a stop at Taqueria Mi Pueblito in Walla Walla, Washington in an absolute must. I know multiple people who bring stashes of these legendary burritos back across the mountains with them to Seattle every time they’re in Eastern Washington. They’re just that good.

Lead image courtesy of Have a Heart Belltown


Thanks you for visiting FLMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Florida. Currently, there is a Medical Marijuana Initiative on the November 2016 Ballot to legalize High-THC Medical Marijuana in the State of Florida. The FLMMCC Florida State Licensed Doctors are ready to review your medical records for a “FREE Pre-Qualification”. This will be the first step in becoming a legal Florida Medical Marijuana patient when the law passes.

Washington’s Best-Tasting Strains From Fall 2017

A strain may have an incredible aroma, but it doesn’t always translate well to flavor. The intricacies of its aroma may fall apart under the heat of combustion. An imperfect cure, flush, or growing environment can also lead to a harsher smoke. But a well-grown flower with amazing flavor is something to truly revel in.

These Washington state strains exhibit flavors that can stand the test of heat, delivering well-preserved terpene profiles when smoked or vaporized. Whether you like sour strains that reek of diesel or sweet varieties that taste just like fruit medley, dig in and find the one for you.

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The Top THC-Dominant Strains of Washington State in Fall 2017

Sherbet by Gabriel Cannabis

Gabriel Cannabis' Sherbet: the best-tasting strain in Washington state for fall 2017

Voted “Best Flavor” in this season’s Top THC-Dominant Strains in Washington, Sherbet by Gabriel Cannabis embodies a harmony of sweet-smelling terpenes. Its aroma is sugary and dessert-like but opens up into flavors of deep grape and marionberry. The exhale leaves behind an earthy, herbal taste much like spicy echinacea tea.

Find Sherbet Nearby

Ghost Train Haze by Sweet As!

Sweet As1 Cannabis Co.'s Ghost Train Haze: the 2nd-best-tasting strain in Washington state for fall 2017

Ghost Train Haze is known to pack a spice rack of different flavors, which Sweet As! captures masterfully in its own rendition. Upon opening the container, your nose is immediately met with an overpowering aroma of overripe oranges, sour citrus, and pine oil cleaner. Its flavor shape-shifts into what feels like an entirely new palate of tastes, including clean mint, lavender, and rich sandalwood.

Find Ghost Train Haze Nearby

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Middlefork by Royal Tree Gardens

Royal Tree Gardens' Middlefork: the 3rd-best-tasting strain in Washington state for fall 2017

It should come as no surprise that the first place winner of this season’s Top THC-Dominant Strains in Washington delivered a standout experience of flavor. Royal Tree’s Middlefork carries an overwhelming diversity of fruity, dessert-like flavors that can range from lemon-blueberry muffins to vanilla chai, citrus tea, or candied oranges with a slightly sour fizz. The smooth exhale leaves these flavors lingering a moment before its dreamy, euphoric effects take the wheel.

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Chocolope by Gabriel Cannabis

Gabriel Cannabis' Chocolope: the 4th-best-tasting strain in Washington state for fall 2017

Traditionally, Chocolope is an earthy strain with subtle flavors of spice and coffee. Gabriel’s Chocolope, however, delivers an altogether different experience—one that is nuanced with bright flavors of lime, tropical fruit, and warm pine dancing together on the exhale. Its flavor is an undisturbed reflection of its aroma, which bursts from the jar with loud notes of sour candied citrus.

Find Chocolope Nearby

Sour Diesel by Nebula Gardens

Nebula Gardens' Sour Diesel: the 5th-best-tasting strain in Washington state for fall 2017

Sour Diesel has long been a household name, known by its sting of sour fuel and acrid gas. Nebula’s hand at Sour Diesel is impressive in both aroma and flavor, preserving these legacy attributes with an earthy, minty finish. Hints of rosemary and spearmint are detectable in a vaporizer, whereas smoking this strain brings more of a sweet, hashy taste like burnt sage.

Find Sour Diesel Nearby

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One Strain Five Ways: Sour Diesel in Washington


Thanks you for visiting FLMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Florida. Currently, there is a Medical Marijuana Initiative on the November 2016 Ballot to legalize High-THC Medical Marijuana in the State of Florida. The FLMMCC Florida State Licensed Doctors are ready to review your medical records for a “FREE Pre-Qualification”. This will be the first step in becoming a legal Florida Medical Marijuana patient when the law passes.

JoAnna McKee, Co-Founder of Seattle’s First Cannabis Co-op, Dies at 74

SEATTLE (AP) — JoAnna McKee, a pioneering medical marijuana activist in Washington state, has died at age 74.

Longtime friend Dale Rogers says McKee passed away Nov. 18. He was not certain of the cause.

McKee was instrumental in working to pass Washington’s medical marijuana initiative and pushing lawmakers to support patients.

McKee and her partner, Stich Miller, founded Seattle’s first cannabis co-op, Green Cross Patient Co-Op, in 1993, five years before Washington approved medical marijuana. Rogers says she grew and used marijuana to treat debilitating pain from a moped accident, and she wanted to donate excess cannabis to AIDS patients.

McKee was instrumental in working to pass Washington’s medical marijuana initiative and pushing lawmakers to support patients. She often appeared in her wheelchair, sporting a colorful eye patch, to testify at the Legislature.

Friends planned to gather for a memorial Thursday afternoon. Among the speakers were King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg and former state Sen. Jeannie Kohl-Welles.


Thanks you for visiting FLMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Florida. Currently, there is a Medical Marijuana Initiative on the November 2016 Ballot to legalize High-THC Medical Marijuana in the State of Florida. The FLMMCC Florida State Licensed Doctors are ready to review your medical records for a “FREE Pre-Qualification”. This will be the first step in becoming a legal Florida Medical Marijuana patient when the law passes.

The Top THC-Dominant Strains of Washington State in Fall 2017

#5 | Lemonder by Seattle’s Private Reserve

Characteristics of Seattle's Private Reserve's Lemonder cannabis strain, the #5-rated THC-dominant strain in Washington state for fall 2017

Price: $45/eighth

Lemonder by Seattle’s Private Reserve leaves an immediate impression with an aroma that smells like fresh-squeezed lemons and flowering herbs. The soft lime-green buds crack open easily, filling the nose with a diversity of funky, floral, and citrus aromas inherited from its parent genetics: Lavender, OG Kush, and Super Lemon Haze. Its intricate but fragile flavor profile collapses with heat, delivering fleeting hints of candied lemon. This flavor is refreshing but subdued compared to its impeccable lemon astringent aroma. Anyone with a sweet tooth for lemon-loaded strains should not walk, but run to the nearest dispensary stocking Lemonder.

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From the Tasting Notebook:

“This is the best aroma I have smelled so far. Lemon, cream, spice, and a middle savory note that mellows the lemon in a weird way.” –Jeremiah

“Very healthy-looking lime green coloration and incredible lemon astringent aroma. It’s easy to focus in the stillness of its pleasant effects.” –Bailey

#6 | GG4 by North Coast Growers

Characteristics of North Coast Grower's GG4 cannabis strain, the #6-rated THC-dominant strain in Washington state for fall 2017

Price: $50-63.00/eighth

Sticky, euphoric, and reeking of sour fuel, GG4 (formerly known as Gorilla Glue #4) is easy to pick out of a crowd. This particular rendition from North Coast Growers was a polarizing force among our tasters, but the consensus brought this strain to #6 on our list. The close shave of the trim and subtlety of aroma and flavor were, for some, a miss. But others favored the trim and aroma, admiring its poignant odor of gas and pine. Hints of sweet white tea and aged sour cheese hit the palate on the exhale, a divisive but unique flavor that lacked somewhat in strength.

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From the Tasting Notebook:

“Its flavor is sharp pine with a hint of parmesan funk. Really deep and complex earthy notes that finish sweet with a tingle of citrus.” –Will

“This one has a deep herbal and pine aroma with a light skunky gas note. The onset of effects is jarring and intense—deeply euphoric and trippy.” –Bailey

#7 | Jet Fuel by Sweet As!

Characteristics of Sweet As! Cannabis Co.'s Jet Fuel cannabis strain, the #7-rated THC-dominant strain in Washington state for fall 2017

Price: $36/eighth

This take on Jet Fuel by Sweet As! is decidedly one of the best values when its quality-to-price ratio is considered. The strain has immediate bag appeal, showing off fuzzy, healthy green buds under a coat of gluey resin. Sweet and earthy aromas fill the nose, hinting at a spice rack of different terpenes. Jet Fuel scored well across the board, proving to be an all-around solid choice for those seeking a potent strain with a moderate offering of fragrances and flavors.

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From the Tasting Notebook:

“It has a sweet, skunky zest with a funky sour aroma that opens up with bright intensity. When smoked, it tastes like turpentine.” –Bailey

“Sweet, fresh, earthy aroma with subtle hints of spice and licorice when ground up. Effects are thought-provoking with cerebral energy out the gate.” –Will

#8 | GG4 by From the Soil

Characteristics of From the Soil's GG4 cannabis strain, the #8-rated THC-dominant strain in Washington state for fall 2017

Price: $50/eighth

From the Soil’s GG4 (formerly known as Gorilla Glue #4) is yet another solid take on the sticky, stinky favorite. The aroma of this strain was somewhat muted in the jar, but when ground up, the strain shares its fragrant secret in full: stinging fuel, sharp pine, and a whisper of sweet lemon. Its exhaled flavor is dampened by heat, giving rise to vague earthy flavors with a slight tinge of mint best preserved by a vaporizer. The effects rest neatly in the head, singing away stress and tension with warm euphoria.

From the Tasting Notebook:

“Buds offer little on the nose until broken up, but once cracked open, there’s a pleasant, funky aroma. Its swampy, earthy flavor sticks to the tongue but fades away pretty quickly.” –Jeremiah

“Smells earthy, woody, and muted as a nug. When cracked open, it exposes a loud fuel/gas scent reminiscent of Kush. Smells fantastic when ground up!” –Will 

Find GG4 Nearby


Thanks you for visiting FLMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Florida. Currently, there is a Medical Marijuana Initiative on the November 2016 Ballot to legalize High-THC Medical Marijuana in the State of Florida. The FLMMCC Florida State Licensed Doctors are ready to review your medical records for a “FREE Pre-Qualification”. This will be the first step in becoming a legal Florida Medical Marijuana patient when the law passes.

Washington Report Gives Side-Eye to Homegrow Legalization

If legal homegrow comes to Washington state anytime soon—and that’s still a big if—it’s likely to be very, very tightly regulated.

Recommendations unveiled Wednesday by the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) say that if the state does allow personal cultivation, grows should be subject to strict limits: government-issued permits, a four-plant cap, steps to ensure security and prevent access by minors, and, in the case of one proposal, even a system to track each individual homegrown plant across the state.

Washington is currently the only adult-use cannabis state that doesn’t allow residents to grow their own plants for nonmedical use. A bill passed by the Legislature in April directed the LCB to review that policy. On Wednesday, the agency released a report with three recommended “options” for lawmakers to consider.

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One option would maintain the status quo and keep adult-use homegrow illegal. The other two options would establish systems to license and regulate homegrows in ways the LCB says would comply with the Department of Justice’s Cole memo, which outlines provisions states must follow to avoid federal enforcement actions.

While the LCB report outlines a path for lawmakers to legalize homegrown cannabis, it’s hardly a full-throated endorsement. It actually provides plenty of fodder against legalizing homegrow, including warnings that “home grows have operated as a cover for the illicit market and diversion and could undermine the regulated system” and that “any approach that allows for private citizens to grow marijuana at home will carry considerable resource impacts and costs for regulation and enforcement.”

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This isn’t unexpected from the LCB. In 2015, the agency wrote a letter to lawmakers opposing a bill that would’ve allowed adults to grow up to six plants for personal use. It threw cold water on a similar proposal earlier this year, saying homegrow enforcement would be expensive and cut into state tax revenue from retail sales.

“People who consume marijuana should not be forced to take part in the retail market, and home cultivation is really the only way to do that.”

Morgan Fox, Marijuana Policy Project

“The WSLCB considered many options from tightly regulated approaches to no regulations but ultimately dismissed any considerations not consistent with the Cole Memo,” Chris Thompson, the agency’s director of legislative relations, wrote in a letter to lawmakers that accompanied Wednesday’s report.

The biggest difference between the two legalization options is tracking. One option would set up a framework to track plants throughout the state, similar to track-and-trace programs that Washington and other legal states use to track retail products from seed to sale. A second option would drop that tracking requirement and instead charge local officials with controlling and enforcing limits. (Overviews of the two plans are included at the end of this article, and the LCB’s full report is available on the agency’s website.)

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What’s so important about homegrow? Supporters argue that allowing adults to cultivate small amounts of cannabis for personal use would cut into illicit sales, give growers more control over the products they consume, ease access for medical patients wary of registering with the state, and put cannabis on equal footing with alcohol. It’s long been legal for Washington residents to brew their own beer and make their own wine without a license. Making hard liquor, however, requires a federal distilled spirits permit.

“We firmly believe that marijuana should be regulated very similarly to alcohol, and home brewing is legal in most states,” Morgan Fox, Marijuana Policy Project’s communications director, told Leafly in June. “People who consume marijuana should not be forced to take part in the retail market, and home cultivation is really the only way to do that.”

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John Novak, an advocate who worked on a homegrow bill this year that failed to make it through the Legislature, wasn’t optimistic when the LCB began working on the recommendations. “The WSLCB could come back and say, ‘Y’know, why the hell not.’ But for the past two or three years, they’ve been fighting against it hard.”

Now’s the time to call your elected officials.

Wednesday’s report represents the most favorable stance to homegrow the LCB has taken so far, but it’s also peppered with warnings that could scare lawmakers into upholding the current ban. Its pages give prominence to the concerns of law enforcement officials, who have a whole host of concerns around homegrow. The report is virtually silent on the benefits homegrow could bring—despite the fact that nearly three-quarters (74.5%) of public comments came in favor of personal cultivation.

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With the report in the hands of lawmakers, now’s the time to call your elected officials. Here are the options the LCB has recommended to them:

Option 1

Tightly Regulated Recreational Home Grows – State Framework

  • Allow recreational home grows under a strict state regulatory framework that requires a permit and tracking of plants throughout the state, with enforcement jurisdiction shared between the WSLCB and local authorities.
  • Absent a permit, growing marijuana for any purpose is illegal other than already legally sanctioned medical marijuana home growing.
  • Require tracking of all plants in the traceability system to help prevent diversion.
  • Limit of no more than four plants per household.
  • Include a statutory provision that allows law enforcement to seize and destroy all plants possessed by a person if the person has more plants than the law allows.
  • Include a statutory provision to allow recreational growers to acquire plants from licensed producers so long as the person possesses a valid permit.
  • Include requirements for security, preventing youth access, preventing diversion, etc.
  • Include the same restrictions that apply to medical marijuana patients on processing marijuana in recreational home grows (no extraction with combustible materials. See WAC 314‐55‐430)

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Option 2

State Statute Framework, Local Authority Recreational Home Grows

  • Allow recreational home grows under a regulatory framework based on statewide standards set in statute, but authorized, controlled, and enforced by local jurisdictions (counties, cities).
  • Include statutory requirements for security, preventing youth access, preventing diversion, etc.
  • Require a permit to possess plants. Absent a permit, growing marijuana for any purpose is illegal other than already legally sanctioned medical marijuana home grows.
  • Limit of no more than four plants per household.
  • Include a statutory provision to allow recreational growers to acquire plants from licensed producers so long as the person possesses a valid permit.
  • Include a statutory provision that allows law enforcement to seize and destroy all plants possessed by a person if the person has more plants than the law allows.
  • Include the same restrictions that apply to medical marijuana patients on processing marijuana in recreational home grows (no extraction with combustible materials. See WAC 314‐55‐430).
  • Allow local jurisdictions to “opt‐in” for or “opt‐out” of allowing recreational home grows.

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Option 3

Prohibit Recreational Home Grows

  • Do not allow recreational home grows. Maintain current status.
  • A regulated system is in place and widely available throughout the state.
  • Home grows for medical purposes, including cooperatives, are currently allowed under state law.
  • Allowing recreational home grows may provide a cover for the illicit market. This has been seen in other states that permit home grows for both medical and recreational purposes.
  • Recreational home grows may contribute to diversion, youth access, etc.; primary considerations under the guidelines set in the Cole Memo.


Thanks you for visiting FLMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Florida. Currently, there is a Medical Marijuana Initiative on the November 2016 Ballot to legalize High-THC Medical Marijuana in the State of Florida. The FLMMCC Florida State Licensed Doctors are ready to review your medical records for a “FREE Pre-Qualification”. This will be the first step in becoming a legal Florida Medical Marijuana patient when the law passes.

One Strain Five Ways: Sour Diesel in Washington

Washington’s endless opportunities for outdoor recreation make for a state that loves a good high-energy sativa like Sour Diesel. Below, meet a classic Sour Diesel flower, a live resin that mixes Sour D with strains of similarly sour flavor profiles, two case studies of different ways to cross Sour Diesel with OG Kush, and the coolest Sour Diesel tee around.

Note: Prices may vary by retailer.

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(Courtesy of Pioneer Nuggets)

This classic Sour D is grown in Arlington, Washington, and exhibits a tangy, diesel-forward mix of aromas and flavors from the first hit to the last. The high is fast-acting, creating a dreamy headspace that nevertheless allows for plenty of productivity.

Price: $15/gram

Notes: Indoor-grown in batches of 60 plants at a time; hand-trimmed and -processed.

When to use it: Hand-rolled and shared with your best bud.

(Courtesy of From The Soil)

From the Soil frequently selects the mix of strains used to craft their live resins based on flavor profile—that’s why the 206 Sour Mix is so incredibly tasty. Derived from flower as well as sugar leaves, the mix incorporates genetics including Sour Diesel, Sour Kush, Sour Juice, Loud Sour Headband, Sour Urkle, Sour Chem Scout, and more.

Price: $50

Notes: Flower used is grown in “living soil.”

When to use it: Pairing vaporizer hits with something sweet to sip.

(Courtesy of Royal Tree Gardens)

When you cross Sour Diesel with one of the most popular hybrids worldwide, you’re guaranteed to get something good. Sour D meets OG Kush in this hybrid strain originally bred by DNA Genetics: The flower is orangey in color with flecks of purple here and there, and the high is uplifting yet deeply relaxing.

Price: $16

Notes: Grown indoors in Tacoma, Washington.

When to use it: To make cleaning your house more fun.

(Courtesy of Artizen)

In another take on mixing Sour Diesel with OG Kush, Lacey, Washington-based Artizen offers this sativa-leaning hybrid that tends toward a happier, more euphoric high than the cross above. Flavors of zesty lemon and lime meet pine and that classic diesel for a thick, pungent smoke or vapor.

Price: $12

Notes: Artizen also took home top honors in our Blue Dream critics’ picks competition.

When to use it: In a desktop vaporizer at low temp to capture its unique flavor.

(Courtesy of Leafly)

Designed in Washington by your favorite Seattle-based cannabis company, this strain tee depicts blue skies and palm trees in a nod to the bright, breezy high that stems from good Sour Diesel.

Price: $30

Notes: Yours truly is also a proud owner of this tee.

When to use it: To make your Sour Diesel-loving friends jealous.


Thanks you for visiting FLMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Florida. Currently, there is a Medical Marijuana Initiative on the November 2016 Ballot to legalize High-THC Medical Marijuana in the State of Florida. The FLMMCC Florida State Licensed Doctors are ready to review your medical records for a “FREE Pre-Qualification”. This will be the first step in becoming a legal Florida Medical Marijuana patient when the law passes.

On Legalization’s 5th Anniversary, Here’s What We’ve Learned.

Monday, November 6, 2017, marks the five-year anniversary of the glorious back day in 2012 when Colorado and Washington voted to become the first two US states to legalize recreational cannabis.

‘We have not experienced any significant issues as a result of legalization.’

Dr. Larry Wolk, Head of Colorado’s Department of Public Health

Since then, the data generated by those two states have refuted pretty much every dire fear that the nation’s drug warriors predicted would come to pass. Legalizing and regulating cannabis has made for a safer and more just society, while ushering in the beginning of the end of a costly, massively corrupt, and wholly counterproductive war on a largely beneficial plant.

Perhaps the most definitive conclusion to the great “legalization experiment” was given recently by Dr. Larry Wolk, head of Colorado’s Department of Public Health and Environment. When asked by CBC Radio what he’s seen in the five years adult-use cannabis has been legal, Wolk said:

“The short answer is we have not seen much. We have not experienced any significant issues as a result of legalization. I think a lot of people think when you legalize you are going from zero to some high-use number, but they forget that even when marijuana is not legal, one in four adults and one in five kids are probably using on a somewhat regular basis. What we’ve found since legalization is that those numbers haven’t really changed.”

So as we celebrate the five-year mark, let’s address the most important sets of evidence that Colorado and Washington have given us.

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No rise in underage use

According to figures from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, in 2015, 21 percent of Colorado youths reported having used marijuana in the past 30 days.

Teen use in Colorado has fallen 4% since 2009. Nationally, it’s at a 20-year low.

That’s less than the national average and less than the 25 percent reported in 2009.

Meanwhile, a 2016 study from the Washington State Healthy Youth Survey found that rates of cannabis use among 8th, 10th, and 12th graders haven’t changed significantly in the last ten years.

Even nationally, according to the federal National Survey on Drug Use and Health, teen marijuana use is at a 20 year low.

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Arrests Are Way Down*

According to an analysis by the Drug Policy Alliance, arrests in Colorado for cannabis possession, cultivation and distribution of marijuana plummeted 95 percent after the state legalized recreational sales.

Arrests in both states fell by 95% to 98%. But troubling racial disparities remain.

The asterisk comes into play when you dig into the numbers and see that marijuana arrest rates for black citizens in Colorado remain 2.4 times higher than for whites (despite using cannabis at roughly the same rate). Even more alarmingly, according to NPR, in the first two years after legalization in Colorado “the marijuana arrest rate for white 10- to-17-year-olds fell by nearly 10 percent… while arrest rates for Latino and black youths respectively rose more than 20 percent and more than 50 percent.”

According to the ACLU, marijuana possession cases in Washington fell 98% the year after legalization, but racial disparities remain strong there as well.

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Traffic Fatalities Did Not Increase

Opponents of legalization often point to misleading statistics showing a rise in “marijuana-related” traffic accidents, but as I noted in a comprehensive primer on drugged driving for Leafly, the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Task Force—a federally funded law enforcement organization dedicated to suppressing illegal drugs—admitted in a 2015 report that the term “marijuana-related” does not “necessarily prove that marijuana was the cause of the incident,” and applies “any time marijuana shows up in the toxicology report [of drivers]. It could be marijuana only or marijuana with other drugs and/or alcohol.” It also could mean cannabis use that took place days or weeks before the accident.

Meanwhile, a comprehensive study published this June in the American Journal of Public Health found that “three years after recreational marijuana legalization, changes in motor vehicle crash fatality rates for Washington and Colorado were not statistically different from those in similar states without recreational marijuana legalization.”

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Violent Crime Didn’t Rise

Just this past February, US Attorney General and longtime cannabis-foe Jeff Sessions tried to claim there’s a link between legalizing cannabis and increased crime.

Violent crime fell in both states after cannabis legalization.

We’re seeing real violence around [marijuana legalization].” Sessions said in a meeting with reporters. “Experts are telling me there’s more violence around marijuana than one would think and there’s big money involved.”

Well, if unnamed “experts” are telling you, that’s pretty solid, right? Seems strange though, that taking cannabis sales out of the criminal black market and moving them into a legal regulated industry would create crime. Fortunately, the Drug Policy Alliance ran the numbers, and found that in the year after recreational cannabis sales started, Denver saw a 2.2 percent drop in violent crime, and overall property crime dropped by 8.9 percent. Meanwhile in Washington, violent crime fell 10 percent from 2011 to 2014.

Opioid Use Went Down

Just last week, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (more on that asshole here), in his role as chair of President Trump’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, actually tried to blame the opioid epidemic’s staggering toll of death and addiction on cannabis.

Opioid-related deaths fell 6% in the two years after Colorado legalization.

Marijuana legalization will lead to more drug use, not less drug use,” Christie said. “[Legalization] will lead to more death not less death, and the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) has proven it.”

That is not true.

In fact, this May, NIDA added language to its website affirming that access to legal cannabis is associated with “lower levels of opioid prescribing, lower self-report of nonmedical prescription opioid use, lower treatment admissions for prescription opioid use disorders, and reduction in prescription opioid overdose deaths.”

A separate study that looked into Colorado showed that legalization led to a “reversal” of fatal opioid overdoses, with 2014—the first year of legal adult use cannabis sales—marking the first time overdose deaths decreased since at least 2000, when they began to rapidly rise.

After Colorado’s legalization of recreational cannabis sale and use, opioid-related deaths decreased more than 6% in the following 2 years,” concluded the study, which was published earlier this month in the American Journal of Public Health.

Cannabis Tax Revenue Improved Society

Colorado voted to legalize recreational cannabis in November 2012, but the state’s first legal sales didn’t take place until New Year’s Day 2014. Since then, according to data analyzed by Denver-based VS Strategies, the state has collected more than $500 million in cannabis revenue (a figure that includes taxes on both medical and recreational cannabis, though the vast majority is recreational). In Washington, where the retail tax rate is 37%, the state’s total tax obligation for fiscal year 2016 is $185 million and according to a new report from New Frontier Data is expected to increase 25% to $233 million for fiscal year 2017.

More than $1 billion has been taken off the illicit market and used to build schools and bolster drug education programs.

Taxes get a bad rap, because we tend to think of paying them rather than what they pay for, but already in two relatively small states we’ve seen well over $1 billion that previously went into the illicit market now going towards public education and other popular programs.

Recent research by Leafly found that more than 149,000 full-time jobs are currently supported by cannabis legalization. New Frontier estimates that by 2020 cannabis will create more jobs than manufacturing in the United States. And the industry’s unprecedented growth shows no signs of slowing down.

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“About a year into this job, I’ve finally accepted how explosive growth is in this industry,” Tom Adams, Editor-in-Chief of Arcview Market Research, tells me. “And the detonator on that explosion has been adult use legalization, which takes an often very limited medical marijuana market in a state and opens the doors of the stores to everybody. When that happens, the legal operators really start gobbling up market share that used to belong to the illicit trade, which makes for growth rates not to be found anywhere else that I’m aware of—including the internet boom at its height.”

Specifically, Adams points to a “compound annual growth rate” in Colorado and Washington in the three years immediately following adult use legalization of over 50%—a rate of expansion he says, that “just does not happen” in other industries.

Those Arcview numbers don’t include the economic benefits of a sustained boom in ancillary businesses like real estate, legal services, accounting, and security, or the government’s vast savings on enforcement, prosecution and incarceration. Not to mention all the people who didn’t lose their jobs, get kicked out of school, or otherwise have their lives and finances disrupted over a cannabis arrest.

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Where Have All the Flowers Gone?

On the retail end, one of the most pronounced changes seen since the onset of legal adult use sales has been a marked shift away from sales of dried cannabis bud (flower) and into products like edibles, tinctures, concentrates, and topicals. It takes time for consumers to discover and adopt these products, but they have each steadily created their own thriving market segments while eating into the overall percentage of sales that goes to flower.

Flower purchases have slowed as consumers discover a vast array of new products and choices.

In its annual report, The State of Legal Marijuana Markets – 5th Edition, Arcview Market Research reports that “on average, while the whole market in [Colorado, Washington, and Oregon] grew 47% in 2016, the pre-roll category grew by 121%. Growing more slowly, although notably more rapidly than flower, were the concentrates and edibles categories, which increased by 75% and 53% respectively… compared with growth of just 31% for dried flowers.”

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Some of this disparity can be attributed to reductions in the price of flower, but the data also reflect a distinct change in preference towards other means of consumption. By the end of 2016, sales of dried flower made up just 55% of the product mix by dollar sales in Colorado and 59% in Washington.

Arcview attributes this in part to the fact that while high quality cannabis flower remains readily available on the illicit market, concentrates, edibles, topicals, tinctures and other alternatives can’t easily be found outside the regulated market.

“Legalization has ushered in the age of the tested, packaged, and branded cannabis product,” the report concludes. “Customers buying a given product know what they’re getting, know what it contains, and are assured of a mostly consistent experience. That’s causing long-time cannabis smokers to try out and even embrace other forms of consumption, from vaping and edibles to topicals and pills.”

For those of you (and me!) who still love flower, Leafly’s cannabis experts recently compiled this list of 100 Strains to Try Before You Die

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From Dispensary Founder to Mayor?

To get past the numbers, and delve into the human impact of adult use legalization, I’ll give the last word to Kayvan Khalatbari, co-founder of Denver Relief Consulting, 2019 candidate for mayor of Denver, and an industry veteran who started up the state’s second oldest cannabis dispensary in 2009 “with a $4,000 investment and a quarter-pound of cannabis.”

‘The biggest thing I’ve learned in the last five years is that people just aren’t as hard to convince on this topic as I thought they would be.’

Kayvan Khalatbari, Denver dispensary pioneer and mayoral candidate

That was quite an accomplishment. But I’ll always admire him most for his dedicated grassroots cannabis activism, including way back in 2007 when he used to dress in a chicken costume and follow around then Denver mayor (now Colorado governor) John Hickenlooper with a sign that said, ““Hey, Mayor Chickenlooper, What’s So Scary About Marijuana?”

“The biggest thing I’ve learned in the last five years, and even going back further, is that people just aren’t as hard to convince on this topic as I thought they would be.” Khalatbari tells me. “It turns out the opposition to legalization was wide but not deep, and once we started to get data on adult use, and could show politicians and the public that the sky didn’t fall, and revenue went way up, we really started to build momentum, not just in Colorado but nationally as well.”

One interesting byproduct of that has been rapid acceptance of the industry in rural and more traditionally conservative areas that now increasingly see cannabis as an opportunity to bring in jobs and tax revenue. Those regions have begun steadily wooing businesses out of more urban areas, where some residents and regulators have grown wary of the industry’s relentless growth.

Khalatbari worries, however, that as this process of mainstreaming and expansion takes hold, the cannabis industry will move further and further away from its roots as a social justice movement, and become “just about doing business and making a profit.”

Specific areas of concern including boosting Colorado’s notoriously low rates of minority ownership and employment; increasing the industry’s focus on environmental stewardship; and ensuring a more positive impact on communities where cannabis businesses operate, especially those that were disproportionately targeted by the War on Marijuana. “As we consolidate as an industry, and the size of these businesses get bigger, a lot of that tends to fall by the wayside,” Khalatbari says. “At which point we risk becoming just another industry, and not a better industry.”

To that end, he’s a founding member of the Minority Cannabis Business Alliance, and was a driving force behind the Initiative 300 campaign, which allowed Denver to create a pilot social use program. Now he’s planning to sue the city for stalling the Initiative 300 system, and throwing up roadblocks to its success. He’s also concerned that rapid consolidation of the industry has pushed out the original mom & pop style operators.

“I think it’s fair to say we’ve seen our ‘unique operators’ in Colorado cut in half in the last two years,” Khalatbari says. “The number of chains have expanded and taken up that market share, which has led to a drop in the price [of cannabis]. We have $100 ounces in Colorado, and obviously that’s good for consumers, but it makes it even harder for those mom & pops to stay afloat and keep up with the economy of scale enjoyed by the bigger operators.”

These are all issues (among many other progressive causes) Khalatbari will be raising in his upcoming campaign for mayor of Denver. And if that sounds like a pipe dream, keep in mind that long before he became the state’s most powerful politician, John “Chickenlooper” started out as a pioneering brewpub owner.

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Thanks you for visiting FLMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Florida. Currently, there is a Medical Marijuana Initiative on the November 2016 Ballot to legalize High-THC Medical Marijuana in the State of Florida. The FLMMCC Florida State Licensed Doctors are ready to review your medical records for a “FREE Pre-Qualification”. This will be the first step in becoming a legal Florida Medical Marijuana patient when the law passes.

Washington’s Cannabis-Tracking Snafu Could Disrupt Sales

Last week, the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) threw the state’s cannabis industry into panic with the announcement that its new traceability system, MJ Freeway’s Leaf Data, wouldn’t be ready until Jan 1. The development set the stage for a two-month gap between software systems, as the contract with the state’s current provider, BioTrack THC, will expire on Oct. 31.

With US Attorney General Jeff Sessions already critical of Washington’s legal cannabis program, failure of the state’s track-and-trace monitoring could be devastating. One of the key provisions of the Cole memo, a Department of Justice document outlining enforcement priorities around state-legal cannabis, is that states ensure cannabis isn’t being diverted out of state or to the illegal market. Without a tracking system, however, that’s impossible to demonstrate.

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In other words, as Washington’s cannabis industry switches systems, Sessions is likely to be watching closely.

“We have no intention of giving the federal government any reason to give this industry a hard time.”

Patrick Vo, BioTrack CEO

The LCB tried to extend its contract with BioTrack, but talks fell apart after BioTrack cited unaddressed security concerns and the LCB dismissed them as unfounded.

That impasse triggered the LCB’s contingency plan: a system of spreadsheets submitted on a weekly basis. Use of the manual system sparked rumors of product shortages, and many observers worried the industry’s ability to function during an incredibly busy harvest season might grind to a halt.

Jim MacRae, a data scientist who monitors the Washington cannabis industry, has called the situation the “Great Traceability Meltdown of 2017,” and has theorized that, under the spreadsheet system, there could be “pickup trucks full of bales of fine Washington Cannabis driving out of the state.”

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BioTrack’s Plan B

This past Thursday, in something of an end run around the state, BioTrack CEO Patrick Vo sent an open letter to the industry announcing that the company would continue operating its traceability system independently. Under the arrangement, cannabis businesses would be able to continue transferring products and tracking production as usual.

“We have no intention of giving the federal government any reason to give this industry a hard time,” Vo wrote. “BioTrack understands that even with manual spreadsheets, there needs to be some method of communication and data exchange between licensees regardless of which third-party commercial system you use.”

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The Cole memo mandates that legal states keep close track of their cannabis, ensuring that none is shipped across state lines or diverted to the black market. The fear is that cannabis could get lost under the spreadsheet system, as state regulators would be responsible for manually reconciling records rather than an automated software system that covers all licensees.

“If someone is manually keying in, ‘Okay, I received Manifest #123, I have a dozen brownies with identifier #456, I have two dozen vape cartridges under #789,’ and they mis-input something—intentionally or from honest human error—it’s going to be a lot more difficult to track that down,” Vo said.

The LCB, for its part, has downplayed the transition. Brian Smith, the LCB’s director of communications, told Leafly that the state will collect exactly the same data it currently does, just on a less regular basis.

Data on destruction and transportation of cannabis will still be collected daily, he noted. And while he acknowledged it wasn’t an ideal system, he predicted that traceability enforcement—by far the agency’s highest priority for cannabis—wouldn’t suffer.

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“We believe that we will enforce and we will be reviewing records, and we believe that most of our licensees will try and follow this new procedure correctly,” Smith said. “It’s too bad. We wish that there was more time and they wouldn’t have to make a change like this and it would happen automatically, but there is a period for two months that this will be in effect.”

Coordination is Key

Vo at BioTrack said it isn’t so much that the LCB won’t have access to the necessary data for enforcement, it’s that the data won’t be of much use to them if it’s not coordinated across the industry.

“The system we’re putting up just allows coordination,” he said. “If I’m using [the BioTrack inventory management client] and you’re using GreenBits, our systems can still exchange information. It’s going through the same switchboard.”

“The worst possible outcome in all of this is a splintered solution.”

Bob Ramstad, Oz owner

Having that information reconciled in real-time is crucial to the LCB’s ability to conduct traceability enforcement, he said. Reconciling by hand all the data submitted via spreadsheets could be prohibitively time-consuming for the LCB’s enforcement staff

“This is one of, if not the, busiest time for these licensees,” Vo said. “Even taking malicious diversion aside, the licensees have so much activity that there’s definitely a potential for creating a high-risk environment with respect to errors and inconsistencies.”

Cannabis businesses in Washington, meanwhile, universally agreed that maintaining a consistent traceability platform was essential for the industry to function.

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“The worst possible outcome in all of this is a splintered solution, some of them free, some of them paid, with different processors having to integrate with different solutions in order to work with different retailers,” Bob Ramstad, owner of Seattle retailer Oz, wrote in a forum discussion about the situation.

As of Monday, BioTrack still plans to maintain the tracking platform, which will be offered free to all state licensees for 30 days. After that, the company plans to charge each licensee a $50 subscription fee, which it says will go to cover costs.

“I can guarantee you that there will be turbulence.”

Patrick Vo, BioTrack CEO

How the independent system will interface with the LCB is still undetermined. BioTrack spokesman Jeffrey Gonring said that having the central BioTrack system generate the necessary spreadsheets for all licensees, instead of leaving it up to the various third-party software providers, was  a possibility, but that it wasn’t currently part of the system.

At least, Vo concluded, there is a system.

“Please remember that we are attempting to surf a wave in the wild here, so I can guarantee you that there will be turbulence as we go,” he wrote in his open letter.

“However, my team and I believe that this is our best option to avoid industry Armageddon and we will all band together to navigate these unpredictable waters as best we can.”


Thanks you for visiting FLMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Florida. Currently, there is a Medical Marijuana Initiative on the November 2016 Ballot to legalize High-THC Medical Marijuana in the State of Florida. The FLMMCC Florida State Licensed Doctors are ready to review your medical records for a “FREE Pre-Qualification”. This will be the first step in becoming a legal Florida Medical Marijuana patient when the law passes.