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Cannabis in Spokane-Regulation and Enforcement by Ian Moody

Oct 22, 2014




Cannabis in Spokane:

Regulation & Enforcement
By Ian Moody, SDP Executive Director 1st Edition - January 2012

A Non-profit Social Welfare Organization

Cannabis in Spokane:

Regulation & Enforcement
by Ian Moody, SDP Executive Director 1st Edition - January 2012

For more information or additional copies of this report contact: Spokane Designated Provider 308 W. 1st Ave. Suite 201 Spokane, WA 99201 Phone: (509)217-6048 e-mail: [email protected] Or download a .pdf copy at


Cannabis in Spokane:

Regulation & EnforcementBy Ian Moody, SDP Executive Director 1st Edition - January 2012

A Non-profit Social Welfare Organization

Cannabis in Spokane:

Regulation & Enforcementby Ian Moody, SDP Executive Director 1st Edition - January 2012

For more information or additional copies of this report contact: Spokane Designated Provider 308 W. 1st Ave. Suite 201 Spokane, WA 99201 Phone: (509)217-6048 e-mail: [email protected] Or download a .pdf copy at

Ian Moody Executive Director

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Contents About Spokane Designated Provider Author's Preface Washington State Law Federal Issues Major Stakeholders Patients & Providers Cannabis Entrepreneurs General Public & Minors Law Enforcement Full Legalization Advocates How Washington Communities are Addressing the Issue Seattle Ellensburg Tacoma Arlington Spokane The Future of Cannabis in Washington State Recommendations for Spokane Task-force Lowest Enforcement Priority Policy Regulation State & Federal Reforms Proposals Appendices Cannabis Regulation Ordinance Medical Cannabis Task-force Resolution Resolution in Support of Reclassification Lowest Enforcement Priority Policy Resolution Full Legalization Advocates in the News/Useful Links

About Spokane Designated ProviderSpokane Designated Provider (SDP) 'Solutions for Cannabis Patients' A Non-profit Social Welfare Organization

Mission Since 2008To develop and implement safe, consistent, and reliable systems through which cannabis patients can obtain their medicine. We also seek to educate our members, as well as the general public, on the benefits of responsible cannabis use and foster change regarding marijuana laws.

Goals & ObjectivesSafe Access SDP began as a patient-provider referral service in 2008, in an effort to provide safe access for cannabis patients in the region. We now facilitate access to medicine through our collective garden located in Northeast Spokane. Education SDP facilitates free monthly film screenings and focus groups regarding cannabis at the downtown public library. We also make use of our web-blog and multiple social networking sites to educate our members, as well as the general public, on the varying issues surrounding cannabis in our modern society. Law Reform The one issue standing in the way of safe, consistent, and reliable access to cannabis in Spokane is the lack of adequate law reform. Since its inception in 2008, the vast majority of our organization's time and resources have been dedicated to state and municipal policy reform, via grass roots organizing, participation in petition drives, and lobbying and advocating at every level of government.



Author's PrefaceI founded Spokane Designated Provider in 2008, in response to a raid and felony conviction against a close friend and authorized cannabis patient. This incident, as well as numerous similar actions throughout the region, inspired me seek out better methods for assisting patients. The proliferation of unregulated marijuana dispensaries in Spokane was also a motivating factor as this phenomena posed a health and safety risk to our community and a threat to appropriate policy reforms. Having worked as a nurses assistant and medication technician within the long-term care industry for over ten years, I've become accustomed to standard systems and protocols for the handling of narcotics and other prescribed medications. For reasons which I touch on in this report, medical cannabis in Spokane and Washington state has fallen far short of these standards. I present this information from the perspective of a political and entrepreneurial insider within the regional cannabis community; attempting to create a narrative and provide insight to those less familiar with the details of the industry. This edition is void of local crime statistics and economic data and is not intended to be construed as legal advise, nor does it advocate for any particular regulatory schema. Rather, I hope to use this document, and the proposals contained within it, as a foundation for discussing local reforms while considering potential effects on all area stakeholders. Ian Moody, SDP Executive Director ___________


Cannabis in Spokane: Regulation & Enforcement State LawIn 1998, Washington State voters approved Initiative 692, The Medical Use of Marijuana Act, which was later codified under RCW 69.51A. The purpose of the original law was to provide an affirmative defense in court for cannabis patients with terminal and debilitating conditions.1 It also intended to give physicians the ability to recommend cannabis and give patients the option to allow their caregiver to provide them with medicine, if necessary.2 The law remained virtually unchanged until 2007, when the Washington State legislature passed SB 6032, changing the word caregiver to designated provider 3 and expanding the number of qualifying conditions.4 One year later, the first medical marijuana dispensary opened in Spokane, attempting to exploit these, as well as other, amendments to state law. Upwards of thirty area providers followed suit between 2008-2011. Finally, in response to the proliferation of dispensaries throughout the state, SB 5073, a bill revising Washington's medical cannabis laws, was passed by the state legislature on April 22, 2011, and included provisions for state-licensed production, processing, and dispensing of medical cannabis.5 However, these provisions were vetoed on April 29, when Governor Christine Gregoire signed the bill into law, under the assertion that state employees may be subject to federal prosecution for participating in such a program.6 The surviving portions of SB 5073 went into effect on July 22, 2011, allowing for 10-patient, 45-plant collective gardens rather than retail-style dispensaries. These collectives may possess 24 ounces of usable cannabis per patient or up to 72 ounces of usable cannabis total.7 They also include provisions eliminating loopholes exploited by many storefronts; limiting designated providers to assisting one patient every 15 days.8

Federal IssuesSpokane's cannabis community sustained a series of almost fatal blows from the United States federal government in the Spring of 2011. Beginning on April 6, 2011, U.S. Attorney Michael Ormsby notified local landlords and dispensary owners to cease and desist or face possible federal prosecution; maintaining that marijuana is still illegal under federal law due to its Schedule I status on the Controlled Substance Act (CSA).9 Many of the city's dispensaries closed their doors independently. However, a handful of storefronts remained open for business. On April 28 and May 18, 2011, those still open were raided by a joint task force of local and federal agencies, including the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Spokane Police Department.10 Finally, on July 20, 2011, five area providers were indicted on a list of federal charges and could face up to 20 years in prison.11 Since this time, similar events have taken place in other medical cannabis communities, most recently 1

in Pierce, Thurston, and King Counties.12 On November 15, 2011, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington, Jenny Durkan, released a memo, in conjunction with raids by DEA agents on regional dispensaries, implying that federal resources were being used only to investigate, arrest, seize property from, and charge organizations in flagrant violation of federal guidelines, state law, and local policy.13 This trend toward a more targeted approach by law enforcement suggests that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) will respect state and local regulations as long as players are acting within federal guidelines.

Major StakeholdersPatients & ProvidersAt the forefront of the debate surrounding cannabis in Washington State are the patients and their providers. Without safe access to medicine, patients are unable to alleviate a number of symptoms related to various conditions without turning to potentially dangerous black-market sources. Likewise, patients and providers are at the highest risk due to inadequacies and inconsistencies in local, state, and federal laws. Not only do they face the threat of home invasion and burglary by criminals, but also raids, arrests, property seizures, and prosecution by law enforcement.

Cannabis EntrepreneursBeginning in 2009, cannabis patients and providers in Spokane began grouping together under various business models in order to provide safer access to patients. The most popular model was that of retail distribution in the form of dispensaries. However, local and federal law enforcement found this model to be in violation of both state law and DOJ guidelines14 and thus, were ordered to close in Spring 2011. In July 2011, SB 5073 went into effect allowing for patients to group together and form 10-patient, 45plant collective gardens. Many patients and providers have formed non- or not-for-profit organizations in order to facilitate transactions for supplies, equipment, rent, labor, etc. This model, however, is less effective at providing efficient, consistent, and reliable sources of medicine.

General Public & MinorsThe lack of clearly defined cannabis policy in Spokane and Washington state puts the health and safety of our community and children at risk. During the dispensary boom over the past few years, some cannabis storefronts were located within walking distance of schools and playgrounds.15 Furthermore, lack of regulation allows for cannabis intended for patients to be diverted to the black-market and, therefore, more easily distributed to minors. Finally, conspicuous and unscrupulous patients and providers can pose a threat to the general wellbei