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Puget Sound Business Journal: Cannabis regulations contribute to thriving market in Washington

"Business owners don’t often proclaim the value of a highly regulated marketplace, but Washington state’s legal cannabis industry is thriving because our state’s leaders are committed to upholding the direction of voters in creating a safe marketplace that keeps pot out of the hands of minors. That isn’t to say that our current system is perfect — but each year we continue to refine laws and regulations to reflect the realities of a nascent industry.

It is fitting that the Washington CannaBusiness Association (WACA) — the regulated industry’s professional association of cannabis producers, processors and retailers — is helping lead our state’s delegation to Washington, D.C. this month, five years after the passage of Initiative 502. When voters approved a legal cannabis marketplace in 2012, no other state had a legal market for cannabis. Today, eight states have legalized cannabis for adult recreational use, including the entire West Coast. Patients and general consumers spent $6.7 billion on legal cannabis in 2016, according to an Arcview Market Research report."

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Marijuana Business Daily: New Washington state cannabis regulations reflect concern about federal threat

"Aaron Pickus, a spokesman for the Washington Cannabusiness Association, didn’t want to overstate the regulators’ focus on protecting the state’s marijuana industry. But he conceded 'there was certainly a change in concern about what the federal government may or may not do regarding the legal cannabis marketplace following the comments made by (the Trump administration).'"

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The Stranger: Trump Signals That He Wants to Restart the War on Drugs

"Aaron Pickus, a spokesperson for the Washington CannaBusiness Association, said the trade group is advising its members to closely follow the state's laws. 'Right now, we are emphasizing how important it is to make sure you are following the rules as set by Washington State,' Pickus said. 'Make sure you are dotting all your i's and crossing all your t's and following best practices to make sure that minors aren't getting into your store.'"

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KIRO: Battle Over Legal Pot

KIRO's Senior Political Reporter Essex Porter interviews WACA board member and Ponder retail license holder John Branch.

Seattle Times: For Washington’s pot industry, out-of-state owners could supply a lifeline — or invite trouble

"[WACA Boardmember] Susan Gress owns a small pot farm on Vashon Island. She sees the out-of-state ownership bills in the state Legislature, with bipartisan sponsors, as a lifeline, a way for her business to grow and survive. 'The funds we could use to create more jobs and tax income for our state instead will go to states like Colorado and California,' said Gress, a former editor at Pulp & Paper International magazine. At a recent hearing in Olympia she told lawmakers that out-of-state investors have approached her but want a stake in her farm that state law now prohibits."

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Seattle Metropolitan: Vashon Velvet Grows on Island Time

"While the passage of I-502 greenlit million-dollar investments into major production facilities throughout the state, it also opened doors for scrappy upstarts like Vashon Velvet—the company [WACA board member Susie] Gress founded in 2013 with her daughter, Ivy, and sister, Kay Rice."

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KING 5: White House suggests enforcing federal marijuana laws

"[Washington Attorney General] Ferguson, who also led the states in challenging Trump's executive order on immigration, noted that he and Gov. Jay Inslee, both Democrats, previously were prepared to defend the state's legal marijuana system against any efforts by President Barack Obama's administration to shut it down. Ferguson and Inslee sent a letter last week to new Attorney General Jeff Sessions to request a meeting on the topic. [WACA board member] John Branch owns Ponder near Union and 24th Avenue in Seattle. He's been selling marijuana there since September 2015. 'I think undoing the will of the people of Washington state would be a big lift,' said Branch."

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Stranger: Gold Leaf Farm: The Closest Thing You Can Find to Organic Weed in Seattle

"[WACA board member] Brad Douglass, the scientific director for Bellevue's Werc Shop cannabis lab and a proponent of organic cannabis, said Clean Green certification is a good first step for the industry. 'I think what they're doing is good and useful, but it isn't a stand-in for a state regulated or even a federally regulated program,' Douglass said. 'It doesn't have the teeth that a state-regulated program would have.'"

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The Stranger: Washington State Could Be (and Should Be) the Capital of Pot Research

"Washington State—flush with millions of dollars' worth of cannabis, a thriving biomedical research industry, and a long history of agricultural research—is well positioned to start answering questions about the world's biggest cash crop. Scientists know surprisingly little about the most efficient ways to grow, process, and breed the plant."

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KUOW: Marijuana world: Maybe Attorney General Jeff Sessions won't be so bad

"[WACA Board-member and Vashon Velvet owner Susie] Gress and her fellow business owners don’t seem too worried about a federal crackdown. Partly because of the cost and resources that would be involved, and partly because voters seem to be moving in the opposite direction. Eight more states including California legalized marijuana in some form in November.

Rep. Denny Heck (D-Olympia) said support for legalization has transcended party politics in the four years he’s served in Congress."

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Seattle Channel City Inside/Out: Marijuana lounges

Vicki Christophersen, Washington CannaBusiness Executive Director, is featured in Seattle Channel's premier public affairs show discussing the association's support for giving local jurisdictions the opportunity to create regulations allowing for marijuana consumption lounges. Christophersen's interview is featured beginning at the 1:52 minute mark. 

Marijuana Business Daily: Private Washington state fund to boost medical cannabis access

"Marijuana retailers in Washington state could see an uptick in business thanks to a proposed fund that would help foot the bill for low-income medical marijuana patients.

The idea is the brainchild of the 70-member Washington CannaBusiness Association (WACA), which hopes to have the fund up and running by spring 2017, according to the News Tribune. The fund is intended to expand patient access to MMJ."

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Tacoma News-Tribune: Can’t pay for your medical marijuana? A new fund might help

"Patients facing a wide array of medical conditions can sometimes get assistance for prescription drugs from pharmaceutical companies, government agencies and charities. That same support system doesn’t exist for medical marijuana. 'Hopefully we can help fill that void until the federal government changes the status of marijuana nationally,' [WACA Executive Director] Christophersen said."

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Seattle Weekly: The State Wants More Accurate THC Ratings on Pot, But May Be Missing the Main Culprit

"Vicki Christophersen, the executive director and registered lobbyist for the Washington Cannabusiness Association, said she was happy to see the state trying to improve their regulations. 'I do know that our companies feel very strongly that it is our role as an industry to prove it,' Christophersen says. 'We are in the prove it phase: proving that we can produce a safe product, proving that we will work hard to keep it out of children. We are sort of on the point of the sword.'"

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Columbian: What's next for weed?

"More than two years since legal recreational marijuana sales started, Washington pot businesses have seen more than $1.48 billion in total sales, raising more than $350 million in excise taxes, according to the state.

But while sales have almost only increased, questions about the future of the market linger.

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Tacoma News-Tribune: Move over, booze: 2016 is a milestone year for sales of pot in state

"'Vicki Christophersen, a lobbyist for the marijuana industry who heads the Washington CannaBusiness Association, said the increasing revenues for marijuana shops show the regulated marketplace is effectively competing against the black market.

'We wouldn’t be selling to that level if we weren’t,' Christophersen said. The price of products on store shelves now, despite the tax, 'are competitive with what we thought the black market was at one point.'"

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San Francisco Chronicle: Lessons in legalization: Washington’s slick pot industry booming

"Californians contemplating a future of legal marijuana after election day may want to gaze north, to places like this hip pot spot south of downtown Seattle, to see how radically the landscape has changed in the four years since Washington voters decriminalized recreational weed and the two years since retail sales launched. A thriving, slick-marketed cannabis economy is fronted by boutique ganja shops where green-thumbed bud tenders wander like sommeliers, pontificating on their feel-good goods."

You can read the whole story here, including insights from WACA board member Susie Gress of Vashon Velvet.

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WACA members featured in VICE's Munchies

WACA member Jody Hall of The Goodship Company and board member Susie Gress of Vashon Velvet are featured in the latest episode of VICE's Munchies. Check out this fun look into how our members are leading the way to supporting a thriving, safe and quality-controlled marijuana marketplace in Washington.

 

Tacoma News-Tribune: Using marijuana just got a whole lot safer

The Tacoma News-Tribune today published a guest editorial by Washington CannaBusiness Association Executive Director Vicki Christophersen:

"On July 1 our state took a big step forward in supporting a safe, quality-controlled and fully regulated cannabis industry by expanding the system created by voters to include the totally unmonitored medical marijuana marketplace."

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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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