Prior to marijuana legalization in Washington, enforcement of state marijuana laws were, as with the various other states, primarily enforced by city police, county sheriff’s departments, and the state patrol.
Now the driving force behind state efforts has mostly shifted to the Washington State Liquor Control Board and the Washington Department of Revenue for licensing and revenue collection for state licensed producers, processors, and retailers. The medical marijuana aspect is currently unregulated by the state. There does remain, however, the illicit trade which still provides contraband marijuana and remains the largest supplier of the substance.
Yet when we look at other regulated substances such as alcohol and tobacco, local law enforcement officers rarely intervene in the illegal trade. The primary agency responsible for enforcement of these substances’ statutes is that of the Liquor Control Board.
Should enforcement of the marijuana laws be deferred by traditional law enforcement as well?
We previously wrote HERE of Richland, Washington Florist Baronelle Stutzman, the owner of Arlene’s Flowers, who caused a row when she refused to provide her floral services for a gay wedding. Now, a Benton County Superior Court Judge ruled that she violated the state’s consumer protection act that bars discrimination against a protected class.
The legal action was brought by customer Robert Ingersoll and the Washington Attorney General’s Office.
On Thursday of this week, the council held a public meeting after an executive council possibly discussing legal issues the city might face. During the public portion a majority of council members voted to direct the city attorney to draft an amendment to the ordinance that would omit a clause in the business licensing ordinance requiring businesses be compliant with federal law to be permitted to operate in the city.
One can probably surmise what instigated the city to have a change of heart, but the American Civil Liberties Union stated recently they would join the plaintiff’s case and were prepared to take the matter to the U.S. Supreme court.
The confusion as to what constitutes lawful medical marijuana grows with federal deference and ten year punishments for doing so, the United States Department of Justice is prosecuting five rural Eastern Washington residents accused of growing sixty-eight medical marijuana plants in a private collective. The accused include a seventy year old man who states he uses the medicine to treat pain from a job related injury, his wife for her arthritis, and their son.
What compounds the severity for these five individuals is that within the thirty-eight acre property, two of the defendants’ residence had inside several firearms, including rifles which are used by the family to hunt and for protection from wild animals. Firearms are very common in residences in rural Eastern Washington. Yet, the firearms in relation to the marijuana grow add an additional five year minimum sentence, adding to the defendants’ minimum of ten years imprisonment, something the senior defendant claims to be a “death sentence.”
What is rather extraordinary in this effort by the department of justice, despite guidelines in not allocating resources to prosecute medical marijuana patients, the defendants claim it was a misunderstanding of Washington’s medical marijuana laws that caused them to go from legal users to being potentially imprisoned for ten years.
Due to the close of the legislative session, the various families in the legislature were not able to agree how to put the Medical Marijuana industry out of business. Bosses at the Liquor Control Board and the two prominent political families worked all session to preserve the state’s business interests in the Recreational Marijuana Racket, with its excessive taxation and protection.
In the seemingly endless hunger to tax everything under the clouds the Washington Legislature is considering placing a 95% wholesale tax on electronic cigarettes and supplies. Currently retail sales of e-cigarettes are taxed as ordinary sales tax where as tobacco products are taxed at the highest wholesale tax rate in the United States.
In another chapter in the switch of Washington State from waging a war on drugs to marijuana “regulator” the legislature has introduced a bill to punish cities or counties that ban recreational marijuana retailers and another bill rewarding them if they fall in line and allow it. Does this represent an overstepping of the ordinance making authority of local governments?