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Guest Post: Congressman Denny Heck

In a presidential election year, very little happens in Congress, so we will have to wait at least one more year for the major long-term solutions the legal marijuana industry needs and deserves. However, we are making incremental progress, and I want to update you on a couple of developments on that front.

Two years ago, we made history by succeeding in adopting two legalization amendments to House appropriations bills. I was very proud to be the lead sponsor of one of those two – the Heck amendment barred financial regulators from taking action against banks and credit unions for serving marijuana-related business. In addition, we passed a Rohrabacher amendment that barred the Department of Justice from taking action against state-regulated marijuana businesses.

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Spokesman-Review: Washington flips the switch on a new medical marijuana system

“'We really don’t know how many dispensaries there were in the state, and how many were legitimate dispensaries and not just fronts,' said Vicki Christophersen of the Washington Cannabusiness Association, which represents state-licensed marijuana businesses. That was a major reason behind the push to combine the systems, she said."

Read the whole thing.

The Lens: Cities, Counties Want Fine-Tuned Rules For Legal Pot Shops And Grow Ops

"Industry Association Wants To Build Trust

Washington CannaBusiness Association Executive Director Vicki Christophersen supports giving local jurisdictions more autonomy to set regulations. While they may not like the unnecessary restrictions on their industry that come as a result, it’s something they may have to accept for the time being until skeptics are won over, she added.

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The Lens: Weed-Like Growth for Washington's Cannabis Industry

The recreational pot industry in Washington State is growing fast. It’s expected to hit the one billion dollar-mark in sales for the 2016 fiscal year ending in June, according to the state Liquor and Cannabis Board. Also in June, a merger is planned with the medical marijuana industry that is expected to add to growth. By fiscal year 2019, projections for marijuana tax revenue reach $362 million.

The long-term success of the legal leisure weed trade in Washington may depend on whether existing conflicts between state and federal law on marijuana are resolved. Another concern is taxes. Some industry experts warn Washington’s higher marijuana tax rate compared to Oregon’s might entice both customers and sellers out of state or back onto the black market.

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A Plan for Pesticides: Protecting Consumer and Patient Safety

The Washington CannaBusiness Association (WACA) represents the regulated cannabis industry in Washington State and is a leader in supporting policies that prioritize patient and consumer safety. As industry and public concern has increased regarding the use of pesticides in the cannabis marketplace, WACA’s Board of Directors has led membership in a conversation to develop insights and counsel from within the licensed industry to offer elected officials and regulators. The resulting recommendations directly address issues such as pesticide testing, compliance procedures, cost, and safety, among others.

WACA recognizes the challenges of establishing a safe, regulated cannabis marketplace and is fully engaged in working with other licensed businesses in the industry and elected and community leaders to ensure policies that address pesticide use prioritize safety, testing and quality-control. In a fully-regulated marketplace, it is also important to ensure that legal, licensed businesses (whether they are WACA members or not) who are in compliance with state law are not “tarred with the same brush” as unlicensed, unregulated businesses who continue to profit in the gray or black marijuana market. The current focus on pesticide use and testing is an opportunity and an obligation to propose solutions that prioritize consumer safety and are workable for the industry.

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Increase in retail licenses positive step for regulated cannabis marketplace

Following the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board announcement today regarding an increase in the number of retail marijuana stores from the current cap of 334 to a new cap of 556, the Washington CannaBusiness Association released the following statement by its Executive Director, Vicki Christophersen:

“On behalf of our I-502 licensed producers, processors and retailers, we thank the Liquor and Cannabis Board for conducting an analysis regarding an appropriate new cap for the number of retail stores in Washington State to help support a quality-controlled, safe and regulated cannabis marketplace. Today’s announcement brings certainty to businesses investing in the regulated cannabis industry by increasing the amount of allowed retail licenses based on a prudent review of the current cannabis marketplace. We thank the staff and board members of the Liquor and Cannabis Board and look forward to continuing to work with them in our shared efforts to support a successful legal cannabis industry that will continue to serve as a national model."

WACA Annual Meeting Summary

The Washington CannaBusiness Association (WACA) held elections for its Board of Directors at its Annual Meeting on December 11, 2015. As President of WACA and one of its founders, I’d like to share the results and welcome our new board members.

When we started WACA almost two years ago, we were passionately committed to exclusively representing the interest of 502-licensed entities in the legislature and with the regulators.  Our mission has always been to represent everyone with a 502 license and the related ecosystem businesses.

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New exclusive healthcare benefit for WACA members

We are excited to announce that Washington CannaBusiness Association has endorsed Washington Farm Bureau Healthcare. We are a member-driven organization working hard to represent you in supporting a safe, quality-controlled and regulated cannabis marketplace in our state. Today’s announcement is a great step forward in our organization providing a new tool to help support your business success in our industry as we join our established peers in our state’s economy.

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Statement from Executive Director on supporting a safe, regulated marketplace

Today the Washington CannaBusiness Association, the only trade association in Washington State comprised solely of regulated cannabis businesses, released the following statement from Executive Director Vicki Christophersen: 

“We support a safe, regulated and quality-controlled cannabis marketplace in Washington. A fully-regulated market encourages enforcement of state laws meant to keep marijuana out of the hands of minors, but shouldn’t work to expand a minor’s foolish decision into a five-year felony prison sentence.  

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Licensed cannabis industry applauds Seattle enforcement legislation

Today the Washington CannaBusiness Association, the industry organization in Washington solely representing regulated I-502 license holders, thanked Seattle leaders for sending a strong message that they intend to crackdown on illegal marijuana operations (including delivery services) and creating a pathway for the merging of all cannabis businesses – both for recreational users and legitimate patients – into a single regulated cannabis marketplace.

“We applaud the hard work of Councilmember Nick Licata and his Council colleagues, and Mayor Ed Murray, to ensure that Seattle is enforcing laws that support a single, quality-controlled and safe marketplace for cannabis.” said WACA Executive Director Vicki Christophersen. “We also want to recognize the leadership that King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg and King County Sheriff John Urquhart displayed last week when they moved forward with enforcing the closure of 15 illegal marijuana retailers in unincorporated King County.”

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News Tribune: Pierce County’s ban on licensed pot shops serves only scofflaws

"Unless the Pierce County Council lifts its ban on legal marijuana shops, would-be marijuana sellers trying to play by the state’s rules will remain out of luck. And traffickers who flout the rules will continue to flourish."

Read the whole thing.

Washington CannaBusiness Association celebrates safe, quality-controlled and regulated cannabis marketplace

On Tuesday, the Washington CannaBusiness Association (WACA) held its first members-only conference for I-502 license-holders to celebrate its inaugural 2015 legislative session. WACA members and its Board of Directors were on hand to celebrate the passage of the Cannabis Patient Protection Act, and voice support for a streamlined taxing structure that also eliminates double-taxing which is still working its way through the legislative process as part of special session negotiations. WACA members were also able to meet with Liquor and Cannabis Board staff, speak with elected officials, and workshop with strategic communications and government relations professionals about how to grow I-502 businesses as true community leaders.

WACA also presented a Legislator of the Year award to Senator Ann Rivers, sponsor of the bipartisan Cannabis Patient Protection Act and champion for creating a single, safe, quality-controlled and regulated cannabis marketplace in Washington State. “We are thankful for the overwhelming support of the governor and both political parties in passing critical legislation this session to help ensure the success of the regulated cannabis marketplace created by state voters. Senator Ann Rivers demonstrated true leadership this session by asking tough questions, working long hours and collaborating with her colleagues to get the Cannabis Patient Protection Act over the finish line. Regulated cannabis business owners, patients and general consumers alike will all benefit from her leadership and the Washington CannaBusiness Association thanks her for demonstrating such a deep commitment to public service,” said WACA Executive Director Vicki Christophersen. “We have a duty to honor the will of the voters in creating a regulated, safe and qualitycontrolled cannabis marketplace, while recognizing the need for a safe, medicinal marketplace for patients in need,” said Senator Rivers. “I am honored to receive the Legislator of the Year award and also wish to thank my colleagues for their hard work, without which this legislation would not have been possible. I especially thank the Washington CannaBusiness Association for their professional and collaborative approach to representing our state’s regulated cannabis business owners. I look forward to hearing from them in the future as we continue to fine-tune cannabis policy in Washington.”

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Regulated cannabis industry voices support for compliance checks

“We applaud the Liquor and Cannabis Board for enforcing strict standards to support a safe, quality-controlled and regulated cannabis marketplace in Washington. These first compliance checks are instrumental in helping prevent the illegal sale of marijuana to minors,” said Washington CannaBusiness Association Executive Director Vicki Christophersen. “We look forward to continuing our shared commitment with state regulators and law enforcement to ensure that our new regulated marketplace adheres to the strict guidelines established by policymakers and voters.”

KIRO 7: Washington gov. signs overhaul of medical marijuana market

"Nearly two decades after voters passed a medical marijuana law that often left police, prosecutors and even patients confused about what was allowed, Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill Friday attempting to clean up that largely unregulated system and harmonize it with Washington's new market for recreational pot."

Read (and watch) the whole thing.

Associated Press: Willie Nelson becomes latest celebrity in marijuana business

"'Like other industries, branding and creative marketing is a big part of supporting legal cannabis products,' said Vicki Christophersen, director of the Washington CannaBusiness Association."

Read the whole thing.

The Olympian: Inslee should sign marijuana reforms

"Washington lawmakers finally forged a grand compromise on the state’s unfolding experiment with legal marijuana."

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Making marijuana into a legitimate business

The BBC covers the challenges facing the regulated cannabis marketplace in Washington State, including interviewing Green Theory's Tera Martin, member of the Washington CannaBusiness Association, and Senator Rivers, sponsor of the Cannabis Patient Protection Act.

Watch the video.

Critical updates needed in state marijuana laws

"Washington's experiment with legal recreational marijuana is 'teetering on the brink' of a market failure. That is the candid assessment of Hayden Woodard, a state-licensed grower in Dallesport who hasn’t given himself a paycheck in a year."

Read the whole thing.

Inside Olympia covers Cannabis Patient Protection Act

Austin Jenkins on TVW's Inside Olympia  interviews WACA member Angela Jayo and key elected representatives to discuss the need for a safe, quality-controlled and regulated cannabis marketplace.

Watch the whole video.

The Columbian: Guest Post on Cannabis Chronicles

"The Washington CannaBusiness Association (WACA) is the only organization of its kind in Washington state comprised solely of 502-licensed producers, processors and retailers of cannabis. With members from urban and rural areas across the state, WACA is working to ensure safe, quality-controlled products for all consumers and a single, regulated system for the entire cannabis marketplace."

Read the whole thing.