Try, Try Again: Washington Lawmakers Introduce Homegrow Bill

Try, Try Again: Washington Lawmakers Introduce Homegrow Bill

[Editor’s Note: One day, maybe this year, Washington state legislators will get that growing up to 6 plants at home is a great way to keep the illegal market at bay, while supporting the legal market.]

In the world of legal cannabis, Washington is unique: It’s the only adult-use cannabis state that entirely prohibits adults from growing cannabis at home.

A pair of bills introduced Wednesday in the state Legislature would change that, allowing people 21 and over to grow up to six plants at home for personal use. But whether the bill can pass remains an open question. Past efforts to legalize home cultivation have withered at the Capitol.

This year’s effort could be different. Both bills boast bipartisan sponsors, and supporters say they’re optimistic.

“I am absolutely convinced that if we get this to the floor, we can get it passed,” John Kingsbury, a longtime medical cannabis and homegrow advocate, told The Stranger.

Kingsbury helped lobby the Legislature to get the measure introduced and described lawmakers as cautiously supportive of the change. “I have gone to dozens and dozens of legislators asking for their support,” he said, “and the thing I kept hearing was, ‘I don’t want to sign my name on it, but I will vote on it if it comes to the floor.”

The newly introduced bills, filed late last week, do away with many of the strict limitations suggested by cannabis regulators at the state Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB), which was tasked to study the issue the last time it came up, in 2017. The LCB’s recommendations included mandatory government-issued permits, a four-plant limit, and—in the case of one proposal—even a system to track each individual cannabis plant across the state.

Under the latest proposal before the Legislature, adults would be allowed to grow up to six plants, and neither permits nor tracking would be required.

Skeptics of homegrow worry the allowance could expand Washington’s illicit cannabis market, which continues to function in much of the state, especially in areas where access to legal cannabis is limited. In its 2017 report, the LCB warned that “home grows have operated as a cover for the illicit market and diversion and could undermine the regulated system.”

“Any approach that allows for private citizens to grow marijuana at home will carry considerable resource impacts and costs for regulation and enforcement,” the agency said.

But supporters say those blanket statements ignore important distinctions in state homegrow laws, such as caps on the number of plants per household. In an interview with KUOW before the new bills were introduced, state Rep. David Sawyer (D-Tacoma) noted that lawmakers are drawing on “what we’ve learned from other states.”

“We learned what not to do,” Sawyer said. “Colorado had a limit of 99 plants, and law enforcement had no way of taking down illegal operations.” (Colorado has since reduced its homegrow limit to six plants.)

A well-functioning homegrow law could actually help reduce illicit sales, he suggested. “If no other option exists, no retail store, a home grow is a way for at least some folks to provide their own marijuana without having to pay off a criminal element to give it to them.”

Sponsors of Senate version of the bill, SB 5155, include Sens. Maureen Walsh (R-Pasco), Bob Hasegawa (D-Seattle), Sam Hunt (D-Olympia), and Rebecca Saldaña (D-Seattle).

The House bill, HB 1131, is sponsored by Reps. Brian Blake (D-Longview), Drew MacEwen (R-Union), Laurie Dolan (D-Olympia), Jim Walsh (R-Longview), and Shelley Kloba (D-Bothell), Cindy Ryu (D-Shoreline), Sherry Appleton (D-Poulsbo), Roger Goodman (D-Kirkland), Monica Jurado Stonier (D-Vancouver), and Jesse Young (R-Gig Harbor).

Photo Credit: (Dmitry_Tishchenko/iStock)

Original Post: Leafly: Try, Try Again: Washington Lawmakers Introduce Homegrow Bill

Seattle’s Leading Pot Shop Launches Random Product Testing

Seattle’s Leading Pot Shop Launches Random Product Testing

Editor’s Note: Contaminant-free weed is critical. We love when industry steps into a void left by government. This is a perfect example of a business doing the right thing and bringing quality to the people.

Seattle’s busiest cannabis retailer is taking lab testing into its own hands, launching a program this month that tests random products on store shelves for heavy metals and pesticides—and then removes any products that fail.

Each month, Uncle Ike’s, which operates three Seattle-area locations, will randomly select five products from its inventory and pay to have them tested. The project, dubbed “Ike’s OK,” is an effort to curb the number of contaminated products that make it through Washington’s state-mandated testing process, which doesn’t require pesticide testing as a matter of course.

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The first batch of products selected were:

Find Legal Cannabis Near You

The Need for Clean Cannabis

Leading the new program are two longtime cannabis watchdogs: Tobias Coughlin-Bogue, a journalist who spent years covering the state’s cannabis testing program, and Jim MacRae, a data scientist and consultant who tracks the state’s cannabis industry. Coughlin-Bogue is also a frequent contributor to Leafly News.

“I spent all that time at The Stranger crowing about pesticides,” said Coughlin-Bogue, who in 2015 began publishing explosive articles about cannabis pesticides in the Seattle-area newspaper. “The state did some moves and did some things—and, as we’ve seen, it’s come out, it’s still a problem.”

“That’s all anyone needed to do: randomized testing at the retail level.”

Tobias Coughlin-Bogue, Ike’s OK

He’s referring to a recent report that found that more than 43% of cannabis tested by the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) between March 2017 and July 2018 contained either banned pesticides or levels of pesticides that exceeded state limits.

“Likely tens of thousands of Washington consumers are consuming recreational cannabis during any one day,” Patients United, which release the report, said in a letter to state cannabis regulators, first reported by The Stranger. “With pesticide testing failure rates of 30–40%, it is statistically guaranteed that those consumers will consume product with illegal amounts of pesticides in it in every third use.”

State regulators have said that the 43% number is possibly higher than what’s out in the wild, because at least some of the state’s sporadic testing is the result of complaints against certain producers. But Coughlin-Bogue says the complaint-driven pesticide testing is part of the problem. He wants to see an increase in truly random testing.

“That’s all anyone needed to do: randomized testing at the retail level. Secret shopping,” he said. “The process is completely impartial, completely random. No grower is going to get targeted unless they fail.”

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How the Process Works

As the state’s second-biggest cannabis retailer by sales, Uncle Ike’s has access to plenty of products. And state cannabis regulators have established limits for certain pesticides while banning others. All that’s left, said Coughlin-Bogue, is to actually test the products.

“We’re not reinventing the wheel in terms of what we test for,” he explained. “It’s stuff that’s really easy to do these days. We’re just doing it.”

For now, Ike’s OK will test only products meant to be inhaled: flower, pre-rolls, concentrates, and vape cartridges. MacRae, the data scientist, will randomly select five products from the store’s inventory, and Uncle Ike’s will pay to have the products tested by Medicine Creek, a Puyallup­-based lab.

The whole shebang costs less than $2,000. “It’s not insanely expensive,” Coughlin-Bogue said, “and it’s something that every single store can do and every single store should do.”

Results will also be posted on Uncle Ike’s website, so consumers will have access to the same data as everyone else. “We’re not doing this to throw people under the bus,” Coughlin-Bogue explained. “The results are going online because ethically we felt like we had to be transparent. We didn’t feel like we could do a program like this and not publish the results.”

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If a product is selected and fails testing, that product will be removed from store shelves, he said. Additionally, a second product from the same producer will automatically be selected for the next month’s batch of testing. If two products from the same producer fail in consecutive months, the producer’s entire product line will be pulled from shelves until the producer can demonstrate it has addressed the problem. Only after the producer provides independent testing data showing the products are compliant will Ike’s carry them again.

“Most people that Ike’s is buying from, they have a pretty good relationship with,” Coughlin-Bogue said. “So we’re assuming we’ll have a pretty low fail rate—fingers crossed—and if there is something that fails, we want people to be able to go through their products and make sure it’s not elsewhere.”

Setting an Industry Standard

While the program will begin at Uncle Ike’s, the team behind it hopes to see it expand to other stores in the state.

“If any other retailers are interested in how to implement something like this, we’re more than happy to share the knowledge,” Coughlin-Bogue said. “We’ll come explain how this works, how to set it up with their system. The idea is to make this an industry standard.”

As a journalist, he said, “it feels amazing to be able to come up with a solution to a problem you identified in your reporting.

“Almost never are you able to call something out and say, ‘This is a problem, someone should do something,’ and then have someone show up and say, ‘I will pay you to design and implement the solution.’”

Original Post: Leafly: Seattle’s Leading Pot Shop Launches Random Product Testing

Terpinolene: The Least-Common Common Terpene

Terpinolene: The Least-Common Common Terpene

The cannabis plant is an impressive alchemist, capable of producing hundreds of cannabinoids and terpenes. Some, such as THC and CBD, are widely known outside the cannabis community. Others, including terpenes like the woodsy alpha-pinene and the citrusy limonene, are just entering the mainstream cannabis lexicon, helping consumers understand what gives cannabis its distinctive taste and smell.

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Terpinolene, meanwhile, is a lurker. It’s found in plenty of cannabis strains, but it’s usually present only in small amounts. It may, in fact, be the least-common common terpene—often among a strain’s cast of characters, but rarely in a leading role.

That’s not to say it’s unimportant. Terpinolene plays a key role in defining the taste and smell of many cannabis strains, including the immensely popular, terpinolene-dominant strains Dutch Treat and Sensi Star. It’s also likely to affect a strain’s therapeutic and experiential qualities.

terpene weed chartClick to enlarge. (Elysse Feigenblatt/Leafly)

The Smell and Taste of Terpinolene

Terpinolene’s aroma is more multidimensional than some other cannabis terpenes. Linalool smells like flowers. Limonene smells like citrus. Pinene? It smells like—surprise!—pine. Terpinolene, though, carries an array of smells you might find in cannabis: It’s piney, floral, herbaceous, and even a little citrusy.

One word that comes up often when describing terpinolene’s taste and smell: fresh. It’s part of the reason terpinolene shows up as an additive in soaps and perfumes (though the terpene’s other qualities, which we’ll get to, also help).

terpinolene terpene qualities chartClick to enlarge. (Elysse Feigenblatt)

Like most terpenes, terpinolene isn’t unique to cannabis. It also shows up in lilacs, tea tree, nutmeg, cumin, and apples.

Potential Benefits and Effects

According to scientific research, inhaled terpinolene can create a sleepy, sedative effect in mice. In cannabis, then, it may contribute a relaxing, calming quality to certain strains—though it could also exacerbate couchlock.

As an essential oil, terpinolene may have antibacterial and antifungal qualities, according to a 2005 study—which could be another reason, besides its fresh scent, that it’s a common additive in soaps and cleaning products. Other research suggests it can help repel pests like mosquitoes and weevils.

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Emerging research is also looking at terpinolene’s potential to reduce the risk of heart disease when used in concert with other nutrients, and its possible role in inhibiting the growth of cancer cells.

Keep in mind, researchers are still teasing out the possible effects of terpinolene. In addition, many scientists believe that terpenes and cannabinoids work in tandem to create a strain’s overall effect—so don’t expect a strain that contains terpinolene to necessarily have relaxing, sedative properties.

Which Cannabis Strains Contain (Lots of) Terpinolene?

Terpinolene can be found in a lot of cannabis strains, but only a small number are terpinolene-dominant. Some that are include Dutch Treat, Sensi Star, Super Lemon Haze, Sour Tangie, Snowcap, Shipwreck, and—in terms of high-CBD strains—Sour Tsunami.

Click to enlarge. (Elysse Feigenblatt/Leafly)

It’s important to note that cannabis strains that are related to one another don’t necessarily share a family resemblance when it comes to terpenes. Sour Tangie is terpinolene-dominant, but its parent, Tangie, isn’t particularly high in terpinolene—its main terpenes are myrcene and alpha-pinene. And while both Sour Tangie and Sour Tsunami are both terpinolene-dominant, many other “sour” strains—including Sour Diesel, Sour Bubba, Sour Kush, and Sour Apple—are not.

Another thing to observe is that while terpinolene-dominant strains can be classified as indicas, sativas, or hybrids, nearly all are THC-dominant. In other words, there currently aren’t many high-CBD strains that have a ton of terpinolene. Why is that? Likely, it’s simply because cannabis breeders have yet to fully explore the full array of terpenes with CBD-dominant and balanced strains. THC historically has been the cash-cow cannabinoid for most breeders. As CBD rises in prominence, that may change. Terpinolene-dominant CBD strains remain rare, but more could certainly be made.

Leafly writer Patrick Bennett contributed reporting.

Original Post: Leafly: Terpinolene: The Least-Common Common Terpene

Oklahoma Voters Approve Medical Marijuana Legalization

Oklahoma Voters Approve Medical Marijuana Legalization

Voters in Oklahoma appear to have passed one of the nation’s most permissive medical marijuana laws in the nation, becoming the 30th state to legalize cannabis for medical use.

The Associated Press called the race shortly after 9:20 p.m. local time Tuesday night. With 1,591 of 1,951 precincts reporting according to the state election board, State Question 788 led at the ballot box, 56.3%–43.7%.

The measure, which legalizes the cultivation, possession, and use of medical cannabis by qualified patients, was the result of an activist-led signature drive launched more than two years ago. It drew heavy criticism from law enforcement, business, medical, and church leaders, but as the election approached, polls suggested that most Oklahomans supported the measure.

The conservative state has long elected law-and-order politicians, but in recent years voters have begun to loosen penalties for nonviolent drug-related crimes. Two years ago, state voters passed a measure to reduce all criminal penalties for drug possession to be misdemeanors despite pushback from law enforcement and other groups.

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The new medical marijuana law is particularly noteworthy in that it gives doctors wide leeway in determining what conditions qualify for cannabis use. With no explicit qualifying conditions listed in the bill, doctors would be able to recommend medical cannabis “according to the accepted standards a reasonable and prudent physician would follow when recommending or approving any medication,” according to the measure.

Critics have complained that such open-endedness would effectively legalize cannabis.

The new law allows licensed patients to possess up to three ounces of cannabis on their person and up to eight ounces at home.

“I think it’s not written right,” Connie Givens, a 67-year-old Republican in Oklahoma City, told the Associated Press as the election approached. “I think it’s just so people can get marijuana.”

But pollster Bill Shapard noted that the measure has earned broad support even among more conservative voters.

“I’ve found almost half of all Republicans support it, so that’s going to take an awful lot of money and an awful lot of organized opposition for this to lose on Election day,” he said.

Among supporters, there was a variety of reasons for approving the measure. “I’ve never messed with any drugs, marijuana or anything like that,” Jack Hodgkinson, a Vietnam veteran and supporter of Donald Trump, told the AP. “But if it helps people who need it, I’m all for it.”

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Robert Pemberton, 58, said he supported legalization for tax reasons, saying he believed it’s been beneficial in states that currently tax and regulate cannabis.

“They’ve got excess money, and we need that, especially for our teachers,” he said. “I think we need the revenue from it. I think we need the money. Our state’s in trouble financially and I think it would really help.”

Late in the campaign, an opposition group called SQ 788 Is Not Medical dropped a reported $500,000 on a media blitz aimed at defeating the measure. The group’s chairman, Dr. Kevin Taubman, called the measure “a bad public health policy that does not resemble a legitimate medical treatment program.”

Earlier this year, the state Legislature had the opportunity to set further restrictions on the state’s would-be medical cannabis program, but lawmakers failed to pass legislation. Gov. Mary Fallin, a Republican, said prior to Tuesday’s vote that if the measure were to pass, she would call for a special legislative session in order to establish a regulatory framework for the new program.

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As written, the new law would allow licensed medical marijuana patients to possess up to three ounces of cannabis on their person and up to eight ounces at their place of residence. In addition patients could have up to six seedling plants and six additional mature plants, one ounce of cannabis concentrates, and up to 72 ounces of edible cannabis products.

Even for patients who fail to obtain a license, the law may loosen criminal penalties for possession. Someone without a valid medical marijuana license found in possession of up to 1 ½ ounces of cannabis would face a misdemeanor charge with a maximum fine of $400 so long as they can “state a medical condition,” the law says.

Voters cast ballots in droves in the early voting period that ended Saturday, with enthusiasm particularly high among Democrats. Oklahoma Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax said nearly 31,000 registered Democrats voted early ahead of Tuesday’s elections, more than twice the 14,100 who voted early in 2014.

Early-voting turnout was sharply higher for Republicans, too. Ziriax said about 36,600 Republicans voted early this year, compared to about 21,600 in 2014.

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A few hiccups emerged after polls opened at 7 a.m. Tuesday. In Tulsa, some voters cast their ballots out of the back of a poll worker’s SUV when no one arrived to unlock the precinct’s door. Other locations opened late for the same reason.

According to local news reports, some voters complained of getting ballots that did not include State Question 788. Election officials said the claims were completely false, adding they’ve checked ballots at every polling location. “It’s been all over the county, there’s been a couple of repeat places, but we have confirmed with those places and sent technicians out to confirm ballot counts are matching,” a Tulsa County Election Board employee told Tulsa-based television outlet News On 6.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Original Post: Leafly: Oklahoma Voters Approve Medical Marijuana Legalization

Estonian Town’s New Logo? A Cannabis Leaf

Estonian Town’s New Logo? A Cannabis Leaf

Praise be to the internet.

Online polls have tried to name a British research vessel Boaty McBoatface, put a laser-equipped kiwi bird on New Zealand’s national flag, and even ship Justin Bieber off to North Korea. None of those efforts panned out. This one did.

Council Chairman Kaido Koiv said the process was “very democratic.”

The Estonian town of Kanepi announced this week it will adopt the cannabis leaf as its new symbol following a landslide outcome in an online poll. In a district of less than 5,000 residents, the leaf mustered nearly 12,000 votes out of roughly 15,000 cast. The town council has since approved the image (albeit narrowly, 9–8), meaning it will soon appear on signage, government stationary, and even the municipal flag.

Not everyone is impressed.

“I must say that I am not for the fact that we will be marching under this kind of a flag,” Council Member Arno Kakk told Reuters, which reported the news on Wednesday.

Council Chairman Kaido Koiv, on the other hand, said the process was “very democratic.”

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Drugs are illegal to sell in Estonia, and possession of a small amount of cannabis is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine. But while cannabis the drug is still illicit in Kanepi, cannabis the plant has a long history there. In fact, the name Kanepi is derived from kanep, the Estonian word for cannabis.

Kanepi, it turns out, has a centuries-old history of growing and processing cannabis, primarily to produce hemp oil and fabric. It was the hemp industry’s presence, in fact, that gave the village its name.

“Today the cannabis leaf is seen primarily as a recreational drug,” Council Member Andrus Seeme told Agence France-Presse, “but in fact, hemp-type cannabis has been used in practical ways for years and it has hundreds of uses.” He said he saw “nothing wrong” with the new logo.

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“We have a few local businesses producing organic hemp oil and flour,” he added, noting that a bakery in town sells bread made with hemp seeds and another company produces concrete using hemp.

Was putting a cannabis leaf on the town’s official flag a joke? Probably. But for anyone not laughing, might we remind you: Your town was already named Cannabis.

Original Post: Leafly: Estonian Town’s New Logo? A Cannabis Leaf

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