Seattle City Attorney Urges Legalization of Home Cultivation and 'Marijuana Use Lounges,' Abolition of Medical Dispensaries


Office of Pete Holmes

During the session that begins next week, the Washington State Legislature is expected to tackle regulatory issues raised by I-502, the 2012 ballot measure that legalized marijuana for recreational use. In a 20-page memo released yesterday, Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes, one of I-502's leading backers, offers some suggestions, including integration of the medical and recreational marijuana industries, legalization of home cultivation, and simplification of marijuana taxes. He also urges the Seattle City Council to legalize "marijuana use lounges." Here is a description of Holmes' major proposals:

Medical Marijuana. Holmes urges the legislature to abolish commercial suppliers of medical marijuana that operate as "collective gardens":

Collective gardens—intended to be truly cooperative, closed systems, and not commercial storefronts generating profits for entrepreneurs—are exploited via a loophole that does not limit how quickly collective garden memberships can change. Robust commercial activity involving hundreds, even thousands, of individuals with medical authorizations purchasing marijuana from a single storefront is rationalized as legitimate collective garden participation by constantly rotating the identities of the 10 members of each garden. Such inventiveness may not violate the letter of the law, but plainly undermines its spirit.

Holmes worries that these "unlicensed, unregulated, and untaxed suppliers will always have an unfair economic advantage" over the marijuana merchants approved by the Washington State Liquor Control Board (LCB). By serving recreational users in the guise of medicine, he says, these dispensaries are undermining the goals of I-502, cutting into state tax revenue, and inviting federal intervention. Instead Holmes endorses the approach embodied in legislation introduced by Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles (D-Seattle): "All marijuana-related business activity, whether for medical or recreational use, would be regulated under a single framework—the one already created by I-502 and the LCB's work over the past two years." To help ensure that the needs of bona fide patients are met, Holmes would allow them to obtain waivers exempting them from the state's hefty marijuana taxes. He also would have the LCB certify "medical-grade cannabis" and "medical cannabis consultants."

Home Cultivation. Currently patients and their designated providers may grow up to 15 plants (or more, if they can present evidence that it's medically appropriate). Holmes would instead let every adult 21 or older grow up to six plants at home. He says this change, which will please recreational consumers but is bound to raise patients' hackles, would "further reduce the need for 'valid documentation' that fosters medical marijuana 'authorization mills,'" "bring Washington's marijuana law into line with the other three states to legalize marijuana for adult use (Colorado, Oregon and Alaska) and Washington, D.C.)," and "establish more equity between marijuana and home beer brewing and wine making."

Taxes. Holmes says Washington's marijuana taxes, currently 25 percent at each of three levels, "should be collapsed into a single tax, applied at the point of sale, adjusted upward to make the change revenue-neutral, and characterized as a consumer tax rather than one paid by the business." That last change, he says, would "eliminate licensee double-taxing under I.R.S. Code § 280E, which prohibits businesses engaged in (federally) illegal marijuana commerce to deduct business expenses—including excise taxes paid by such businesses."

Local control. Holmes recommends that the legislature let local governments regulate but not ban cannabusinesses (as many have done), perhaps sweetening the deal by sharing marijuana tax revenue with them. A dispute over revenue sharing helped kill marijuana legislation last year.

Penalties for underage users. Holmes thinks penalties for underage cannabis consumers, which currently are more severe than penalties for underage drinkers, should be the same. He also suggests that it's unfair to charge merchants who sell marijuana to people younger than 21 with a felony instead of a misdemeanor, which is how selling alcohol to underage consumers is defined.

Cannabis consumption. Holmes notes that consuming marijuana "in view of the general public" remains illegal under I-502, but that phrase is not defined. He suggests that the state legislature define this offense in a manner similar to the offense of possessing an open alcohol container "in a public place," defined as a place to which the "general public" has "unrestricted access." The implication is that cannabis consumption in certain age-restricted establishments might be allowed.

Holmes goes further, recommending that the Seattle City Council legalize "marijuana use lounges" where people could consume cannabis via vaporizers and edibles (but not smoking, which is banned by state law). "These lounges would be open to customers 21 years of age and older with mandatory ID checks, prohibit alcohol, and have minimum ventilation requirements," Holmes writes. "Because state law does not allow consumption of marijuana where it is sold, patrons would have to bring their own. Lounges could charge a cover and sell food and nonalcoholic beverages." Such businesses would fill a need for tourists and other cannabis consumers who do not have ready access to private residences where marijuana use is allowed.

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  1. When did John McEnroe become an attorney?

    1. Gary Sinise.

      1. Or possibly Chris Cooper.

    2. “When did John McEnroe become an attorney?”

      McEnroe is in fact also a stoner.

    3. No. Stop it. He’s the skinny guy from Road Trip.

  2. Holmes would instead let every adult 21 or older grow up to six plants at home.

    Emphasis added. WHAT?! Including convicted felons, gun owners, and potential terrorists?!

    1. He clearly hates the children

    2. Well, remember, if you tell the truth on the form, you’ll be denied your gun rights, while retaining your marijuana rights.

  3. Watched this special yesterday about the new pot entrepreneurs in Colorado. The fact that banks won’t do business with them due to Federal law is a major issue and a serious security risk. This people are hauling around bags of ten’s of thousands of dollars. One guy on the show takes 80K out of their safe to take it to a wholesaler to buy product. At some point your going to start seeing these guys get shot for all that cash. Employees are paid in cash so they may get hit leaving work if someone finds out when paydays are. No checking accounts, no lines of credit, no credit cards. Fucking feds.

    1. Is it not possible to establish an in-state only bank that will accept their deposits?

      1. Oh, I think the Feds would, at the very least, see that as an attempt to launder the money. Considering our “official’ currency is federal in nature, D.C. will call the shots (yep, bad pun).

    2. Sounds like a jackpot waiting to happen for our fine officers seeking asset forfeiture. What’s not to like?

  4. At least someone is proposing some sensible changes. It’s ludicrous that we can’t technically grow our own here. Though from what I’ve seen any enforcement of stuff like that has plummeted to basically zero.

    However, what I’d like to see is a proposal to reduce the absurdly high tax on weed in the dispensaries (not that I buy from them; I’m not paying that fucking tax), which I believe is 25%. But I’m pretty sure I’d be waiting a long time.

    1. Yeah, the segregation of the “medical” dispensaries doesn’t make any sense. The dispensary owners are crapping themselves– understandably– but it just doesn’t make sense.

      If we decided Whiskey had medicinal value, and I could buy it at safeway, why would we carve out special Whiskey Dispensaries which operated under a totally different set of regulations.

      I’m really happy to see someone suggesting home cultivation. With the high taxes and regulation, it at least allows people to do an end-run around them- which coming from a “regulator” seems unprecedented.

      I’m guessing, however, the state liquor control board will have none of these proposals.

      1. Well, unfortunately, the politicians and liquor board have learned that they can tax liquor absurdly and people will still buy it, so they are almost assuredly not going to let up on taxing weed.

        The only reason the medical places are still around is that they are entrenched interests and are probably desperately trying to lobby the politicians to keep their special status. So who knows how that will go.

      2. I can (and have) bought whiskey at the Safeway here in AZ.

        Just sayin’.

        1. And I find Bourbon to be very medicinal

    2. 6 plants is cool, but if you accidentally let one go to seed and a seed falls out in the soil and all of the sudden ‘7 plants’, then you are automatically guilty of like 3000 crimes and all your assets shall become property of the state. But when you get out of prison in 99 years, you can sue to get your stuff back.

      1. ‘7 plants’, then you are automatically guilty of like 3000 crimes and all your assets shall become property of the state. But when you get out of prison in 99 years, you can sue to get your stuff back.

        I’d arguably say that it hardly will take a 7th plant to cause that.

        1. The problem with legalization (and don’t get me wrong, I am all for it), is that it gives control freaks more to control. They will create 10’s of thousands of new laws out of this.

          The only cure for all of this is to radically (yes, radically, progtards, go fuck yourselves) reduce the size and scope of government, eliminate all laws outside the scope of the constitution, take power and money out of politics and make all laws equally applicable to elected officials.

          If we can’t do those things, we are fucked and will not even resemble anything that could be called a free country for too much longer, let alone a country that is not a broken down 3rd world banana republic.

          1. Yep.

            As I’ve entered into the libertarian camp, and come to see the light on legalization, I’ve really struggled with anyone’s suggestion of “Legalize it and tax it!”

            I don’t know why so many people, who hate the gub’mint for outlawing drugs, suddenly have no distaste for Uncle Sam when it comes to saying it’s all good now, so long as you pay him his graff.

            Maybe they’re the “socialist-libertarians” creatures I’ve heard about…

            1. No, they just figure you’ve got to make a deal, like the guy in the beer commercial with the bear.

            2. Even when people are actually statists, even they tend to comprehend the thuggery of the state. “Legalize and tax” is merely “please don’t throw me in a cage for smoking a plant, here’s a bribe”.

            3. Uncle Sam when it comes to saying it’s all good now, so long as you pay him his graff.

              it’s the modern acquiescence of the notion that modern, local government are essentially a gang of organized criminals. If you want to get any business done, you have to pay tribute. So no one even proposes doing business without giving a nod to the state getting a piece of the action.

            4. …suddenly have no distaste for Uncle Sam when it comes to saying it’s all good now, so long as you pay him his graff.

              Americans despise revolution so the mindset here is one of pragmatic desperation laced with legal realization.

              Lawyers line the ramparts above us. Pure and simple.

              This country is held hostage by lawyers. Pure and simple.

              So, the road to least resistance coupled with a smidgen of quantifiable success lies within the strategy of using lawyers to combat lawyers.

              So you get legal pot with all the government rather than illegal pot with all the government.

      2. if you accidentally let one go to seed

        then you are running one crappy (indoor) grow operation.

        First, none of them should ever go to seed.

        Second, if they do, they should never get to full maturity/dropping seeds.

        Outdoor grows? They will all go to seed.

        1. You want some to go to seed if you want to save seed…

        2. Hah, back in the day, even when my friends who were very good at sinsemilla, there would be a few seeds, and there is of course the intentional pollination for the next crop and hybridization.

          Outdoor grows? They will all go to seed

          Good grief man, that is so not true. You just cut all the males before the flowers open and then collect some choice pollen.

          1. I did some small outdoor grows. All female plants. Solid seeds on every one.

            But, I lived in an area with a lot of wild hemp. Probably not typical, so outdoor sensi may be doable.

      3. Not only that, but if you’re starting from seed and if growing marijuana is anything like growing vegetables, you don’t have a 100% germination rate, so you start with more than a dozen seeds and thin the weakest seedlings until you have the number of plants you want.

      4. The idea that you will run into problems over a technicality is about asymptotic to nil. This has not been a problem, whatsoever, in Colorado. First of all, the law is that you can grow 12 plants in a household, and there are kinds of laws that allow you to grow for other people. It is totally unfeasible, and a waste of resources to attempt to make an arrest over anything less than a significant grow operation. And if they did, you would still need to find a jury willing to convict in a state where there are grow operations that produce tons of cannabis.

  5. Seattle is downright schizo.

    First they institute mandatory garbage separation and composting – complete with garbage pickers searching your trash and some strict regulations on what is food (no used pizza boxes , for example) then they go and start talking about letting up on the MJ regulations.

    1. Seattle is downright schizo

      It’s only because the progtards are still feebly clinging to this dimly remembered past of being ‘liberal’. As soon as they forget that and get in line with being the new soviet man, they’ll forget about legalizing anything.

      1. ^This

      2. No, its just a happy coincidence that young progs generally like pot. If they didn’t, then pot would go the way of guns and improperly sorted trash in their minds. We make fun of Tony for being an immoral retard(and he is) but its scary how many people in the general population think just like him. Progs don’t have any principled objection to the state telling people how to act, they just want to buy pot easier.

    2. Forget it, Jake, it’s Seattle.

      To be fair to the Northwest brand of Progtard, the rank-and-file have been trying to legalize weed for decades– initially through medicalization, which I told them (and everyone else) that it was a bad idea, which they now concede was true– but are horrified at the thought that someone might not be recycling. More importantly, that they might not be recycling with a certain vigor.

      They don’t want you to just go through the motions, they want you to believe in their cause.

      1. Why was it a bad idea? They accomplished it, and had it for years before recreational legaliz’n, and arguably it paved the way for the latter.

        1. It was a bad idea in an era when government wanted (and is getting) more and more oversight and control over all things “medical”.

          As a result the laws were sketchy, it became a kind of rent-seeking cartel, and after what we saw in California, just got generally ugly. It was also a matter of time before the state started scrutinizing the “medicinal” part of medical marijuana and put the screws to them in all sorts of areas.

          Did it pave they way, as you say?

          Possibly. Maybe, maybe it made people more amenable to the idea when they saw that it didn’t bring on the zombie apocalypse. Either way, once you have it legalized recreationally, you want to get far and away from anything defined as “medical” about it. The word “medical” attracts government attention like almost nothing else in society.

          1. The word “medical” attracts government attention like almost nothing else in society.

            Excepting the word marijuana.

  6. “Jesus Christ, you nit, don’t you see what he’s done? He’s legalized drugs!”

  7. “Marijuana Use Lounges” is too long. May I suggest “Weed Easies”?

  8. Then only conceivable purpose for medpot after legalization is to give a tax break.

    A lot of states do exempt pharmaceuticals from sales tax, so its at least consistent with that.

    The rest of the entire medpot-regulatory complex serves no purpose whatsoever after legalization, though. Just delete it from the books.

  9. Anyone else around here who can’t really handle modern weed? Cuz I’m like a half hit zombie, so I haven’t messed with it in years.

    1. I haven’t used cannabis in like … 25 years? Something like that. But back then, you had a huge gap in effects and potency. There was what we called ‘ditch weed’ which was probably more suitable for growing rope and that would barely give you a buzz, and really good stuff, which was then divided into 2 categories. There was the Sativa strain and the Indica, or more often some hybrid of the 2. Indica was supposed to be more heavy and body effect and Sativa more cerebral or mental.

      I don’t have any idea how it’s progressed since then.

    2. There are a couple of dispensaries here in CO that have started growing “classic” strains with lower THC content, for the aging hippy crowd and the retiring boomers who no longer have to worry about drug testing after 40 years.

    3. I’m not so sure if modern weed is “stronger” per se, though it probably is. I think it’s more that when you’re 18, you can take a huge rip off a bong or smoke half a joint no problem, but as you get older, you can’t as much.

      People will take huge hits their first time smoking again in 20 years. They get way too high immediately and it freaks them out. But a 20-year old will do the same and be fine.

      The trick to weed when you’re older/haven’t smoked in a long time is go slow and take it easy.

    4. I didn’t use weed for years – like decades, because of consistently bad reactions to whatever was going around. Now with high quality weed sold in a legal environment, I virtually never have a bad reaction. Once I got something, I don’t know where it came from, someone gave it to me, and both of us didn’t like it (it made us uncomfortable) and we both threw it out. Otherwise the quality is high and the high is high if you know what I mean

  10. Slightly on topic…

    I’m a ’70s kid. This was when pot was illegal and socially acceptable. Bill Buckley didn’t really need sail his yacht into international waters to give it a try. Really kool parents would smoke with their kids. This is also when the USG launched a program to spray Mexican pot fields with the toxin paraquat.

    So anyway, there would be ads run in local newspaper classified sections that purported to test your pot for paraquat contamination if you mailed them a sample. I bought a funky tasting lid one time and mailed a sample to the given for address for testing. I still haven’t heard back. I am such a sucker sometimes. Mail me your stash.

    1. Man it has been a very long time since I’ve seen someone use the term “lid”. Nice.

      1. Epi-

        I was born in ’64- never used the term “lid”- because I had already stolen a “triple beam” scale from my middle school science class.

        That was a nice “intimidation” factor when you could pull out your scale while dealing with a 17 yr old when you were only 13.

        I didn’t buy a “lid”- I bought a 28.35 gram “ounce”- and my “pounds” were 453.6 grams. (and “widget” is free to send me any weed that needs “testing”)

    2. Me too. I remember that. Weed was totally illegal, but no one cared. My redneck parents, grandparents, and aunts and uncles would just not care about us smoking some weed and wonder why it’s illegal.

      And then came … SOCCER MOMS!!!

  11. Sometimes dude you jsut have to hittem up man.

  12. “. “These lounges would be open to customers 21 years of age and older with mandatory ID checks, prohibit alcohol…”

    Prohibit alcohol? In a marijuana lounge?

    Now there’s an irony.

    1. It’s incredibly stupid and without any point.

      You want to prevent people from using both cannabis and alcohol at the same time? Make them both illegal. Oh yeah, that didn’t work, twice.


  13. Looks like Orange Man is going to go Obama:

    Revenge of Orange Man

    1. Quick distract the peasants with bread and circuses.

  14. 25%?

    Do they want to keep marijuana on the black market?


  15. Leave it to a fucking lawyer to wheedle a whole new set of laws onto the strata of adult choice.

    1. This drastically simplifies the overly complicated system in Washington. It does not make it more complicated.

  16. No more regulated than tomatoes. No more taxed than tomatoes.

  17. I got Lancia after having made $8688 this month and more than ten-k last-month . this is really the easiest work I’ve ever had . I started this 3 months ago and right away earned more than $84 per/hour .
    Go to this website ??????

  18. These are totally sensible ideas that will make the failing, convoluted legal cannabis system in Washington work. I understand that there are all kinds of antitax radicals who somehow think life is better in Mogadishu than in Seattle, but the ability to collect taxes means a stable, regulated market with quality controls. If you think taxes raises the cost to the consumer, you are wrong. Retail prices in Colorado, after tax are less than half than in NY or MI or WI. The black market has had to reduce its prices by 2/3 to compete with retail. The biggest problem I foresee in the legal retail market is a price crash of cannabis. Once the Federal angle is worked out (especially with the IRS) we will see $80 / oz and then $50 / oz. considering that big, automated greenhouse growers will have costs around $25 / lb. ($2 / oz. or lower). There will be no black market competition whatsoever, and legal, taxed cannabis will be 1/8 the price than in states where it remains illegal.

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