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Shelton Mason County Journal
Shelton, Washington
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August 28, 2014     Shelton Mason County Journal
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August 28, 2014
 

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Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014 - Mason County Journal - Page C-11 ,i to pay income tax and other issues challenge marijuana growers and sellers. Journal file photo They could have their deposit insurance coverage yanked, effectively killing their business. Marijuana banking guidelines issued in Febru- ary by the Justice Department and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, a division in the Treasury Department, were promoted as an effort to ease the anxieties of bankers in Washington and Colorado by setting out a series of steps that insti- tutions could follow to avoid a federal response. But as of June, only two credit unions in the state have announced they'll jump into the game. The guide- lines require bankers to keep an especially close eye (and nose -- if business cash deposits smell like marijuana, a bank has to file what's called a suspi- cious activity report) on marijuana-related accounts and doesn't offer a bullet-proof guarantee that fol- lowing the guidelines will prevent them from run- ning afoul of federal money-laundering laws. The two financial institutions in this state -- a credit union in Eastern Washington and a credit union in the Seattle area -- have agreed to handle the accounts of recreational marijuana business- es, but even that comes with limitations. Eastern Washington's Numerica and Puget Sound's Salal will only deal with businesses with producer or pro- cessor licenses, not with the stores that sell mari- juana. Also, those two institutions will only serve customers in their service area. By armored car. Shelton-based Peninsula Credit Union has no existing plans to accept marijuana accounts. Jim Morrell, president and CEO of Peninsula, said his institution passed a policy in 2011 that said it wouldn't accept such businesses. "It covers any business that's marijuana-related," Morrell said during an interview in May in his Shel- ton office. "It's part of our Bank Secrecy Act risk as- sessment that we were doing... We have not had any reason to change that policy since the regulations came out. I would never say never, but we're not cur- rently considering changing. The reason we're not is the onus of responsibility that is still on us." see page C-12 lg. in lot [on ar- ms .rid aw ta. ~at ju- ;on Lgh of- :ts. me ter Fewer marijuana arrests statewide Initiative 502 is still a toddler among Washington's laws, but its passage has had an immediate ef- fect far beyond its youth: Fewer people are being arrested for pos- session of marijuana in this state. A lot fewer people. In 2009, nearly 8,000 cases were filed in Washington courts for misdemeanor marijuana of- fenses, according to figures com- piled by the American Civil Lib- erties Union, working from court data provided by the Administra- tive Office of the Courts. In 2010, butane from a home hash-oil pro- duction exploded. Four people were injured, two seriously enough to be transported to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. The Sheriffs Office also has lost some of the benefit of having a nar- cotics-sniffing dog. Kona is trained to detect marijuana and other drugs, but does not distinguish among the drugs -- she simply alerts at the scent of any drug she is trained to detect. it dropped to 6,743 cases. In 2011, it was 6,879 cases. In 2012, it fell to 5,531 cases. And in 2013, the first year of full legalization under Initiative 502, it was 120 cases. That's right: 120 cases. A 96 percent drop from 2009 levels. "The data strongly suggest that 1-502 has achieved one of its pri- mary goals - to free up limited po- lice and prosecutorial resources. These resources can now be used for other important public safety concerns," Mark Cooke, crimi- nal justice policy counsel for the ACLU of Washington, said in a news release. The ACLU of Wash- ington was a prime sponsor of Ini- If Kona alerts at the smell of drugs, it is not always clear wheth- er she smells legal marijuana or il- legal cocaine. She is now only used on school or tribal grounds, Salis- bury said. Newly trained narcotics dogs are not trained to detect marijuana anymore. The Shelton Police De- partment has recently acquired a narcotics dog not trained to detect marijuana. Officials agree, however, that le- tiative 502. The number of arrests for marijuana possession from 1986 to 2010 in Washington totaled 240,000, according to the Mari- juana Arrest Research Project, a nonprofit organization in New York that studies criminal jus- tice policies related to marijua- na. In Idaho, where marijuana prohibition remains steadfast, if you're convicted of possessing 3 ounces or less, it's a misdemeanor, but you could still face up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. If you're found guilty of pos- sessing 25 to 50 plants, which is within the range of what a collec- galizing recreational use of marijua- na, and regulating its production, processing and sale, will not elimi- nate illegal activity. "There's still, if not a black mar- ket, a gray market," Dorcy said. The Liquor Control Board original- ly planned on giving out producer and processor licenses by February. How- ever, today, only one Mason County grower is licensed by the state. Some growers aren't waiting for their licenses, according to the Sher- tive garden in Washington can legally have, you're looking at a guaranteed minimum of 1 year be- hind bars and a potential $5,000 fine. One element that hasn't changed since Washington legal- ized possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana for adults 21 years of age and older is the disparity in arrests when it comes to race. A black adult in Washington is three times more likely to have a low-level marijuana offense filed against him than a white adult, according to the ACLU of Wash- ington. - Kirk Ericson iffs Office. "We act on those ... we know that it's probably happening. They have to follow the rules," the SOG ser- geant said. "They have a product they can grow in their own house. You can't grow a Vicodin tree." Officials don't know what to expect when retail stores are li- ceased. "We don't know how it's going to be," the SOG sergeant said. 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