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Health and Medicine
In 2012, Washington and Colorado voters made history when they approved measures to legalize recreational marijuana. Washington Initiative 502 “authorizes the state liquor board to regulate and tax marijuana for persons twenty-one years of age or older.”Since the vote in Washington, the Liquor Board has written a complex set of rules for the state’s new, legal recreational cannabis marketplace. The agency has also set limits on the amount of marijuana that can be grown. And the Board has begun to license growers, processors and retailers.For now, the Obama administration has signaled it will not interfere with Washington and Colorado’s legal pot experiment, unless there is evidence that legal pot is “leaking” to other states or children are getting access to the legal product. The feds are also watching to see if criminal organizations exploit the legal market.The first marijuana retail stores in Washington opened in July 2014.Recreational marijuana is also set to become legal in Oregon on July 1, 2015 after voters approved Measure 91 in November 2014.

Can Washington Courts Deny Pot To Offenders On Probation?

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Drug Enforcement Agency

Here’s the latest wrinkle in implementing Washington’s new marijuana law: Can courts restrict people on probation from using pot recreationally? That question was the subject of a committee hearing Monday in Olympia.

Under Washington law, a judge can order a felon to refrain from alcohol as one of the terms of the offender's court supervision.

The idea is that drinking could lead someone to re-offend, says Lisa Johnson. She handles sexual assault cases for the King County Prosecutor's Office.

“Similarly, while I appreciate that the citizens of this state have legalized marijuana, it too is a dis-inhibitor and, like alcohol, the court should have the discretion to control its use.”

But Ben Livingston of the Center for Legal Cannabis told state senators that alcohol is fundamentally different from pot. He thinks denying the new marijuana law from supervised felons would be a step backward.

“Especially two months after we just legalized cannabis, I don't understand how that is the first thing on our agenda.”

Other marijuana advocates urged the committee on law and justice to allow an exception for medical marijuana users.

The bill would not change anything in the voter-approved pot law. Washington is holding a series of meetings around the state about how to implement a growing and distribution system for marijuana.

On the Web:

SB 5010 (Washington Legislature)