Newspaper Archive of
Shelton Mason County Journal
Shelton, Washington
News of Mason County, WA
Mason County Journal
Get your news here
August 28, 2014     Shelton Mason County Journal
PAGE 60     (60 of 68 available)        PREVIOUS     NEXT      Full Size Image
PAGE 60     (60 of 68 available)        PREVIOUS     NEXT      Full Size Image
August 28, 2014

Newspaper Archive of Shelton Mason County Journal produced by SmallTownPapers, Inc.
Website © 2021. All content copyrighted. Copyright Information.     Terms Of Use.     Request Content Removal.

Page C-12 - Mason County Journal - Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014 T~.w~has the week before ristmas in 2013 hen a medical mari- ana grower in Seattle got a call from his landlord. The grower, in his mid-20s, had about 165 marijuana plants growing behind multiple locked doors in the Seattle warehouse space he rented. He had parti- tioned the space into three sec- tions, complete with walls, so he could claim that he was over- Journal file photo seeing three collective gardens, Marijuana grow operations, such as this one in Shelton, can which, in some people's gener- be subject to raids. A Seattle grower had such an experience. ous interpretation of the state's medical marijuana law, would the grow site. If you stay within riot gear," said the grower, who allow him to grow 45 plants in the limits and you post your insisted on anonymity. each section, for a total of 135 cards and you don't call atten- He let them in. plants. The other 30 plants tion to yourself, you face a rela- ' ree of them had their guns were starters -- called clones in tively low risk of being raided by out and they'd say 'clear' as they the pot trade, the police, went through each of the rooms," State rules governing the However, the smell of 165 he said. "I was near them the growing and use of marijuana marijuana plants, even behind whole time. I was showing them for medicinal purposes have walls and closed doors, and even the whole operation ... A lot of been interpreted and reinter- afLer the air's been scrubbed them were my age, maybe five preted since Washington voters through carbon filters, can be or six years older, and they were approved medical marijuana insistent, very impressed with how I had use in 1998. In 2011, the state The landlord called the grow- everything set up." statute governing collective er on that December day to tell Turns out, according to the gardens was changed to al- him a fully loaded drug task grower, the drug task force was low people to grow, at most, 45 force was outside his warehouse essentially serving notice of a plants in one collective garden door with a search warrant, code violation. The marijuana for people with marijuana au- They said they'd bust the door stench was so aggressive that thorization cards. To grow 45 in if he didn't come with the it survived the carbon scrub- plants, growers need medical keys and let them in. bers and penetrated the interior marijuana authorization cards Right now. and exterior walls of the build- from at least three people, and ' When I got there, there were ing. The smell then drew a cam- those cards have to be posted at about 15 to 20 of them, all in full plaint from a rehab facility on By KIRK ERICSON applies to offenses involving at least: 100 grams of heroin 500 grams of cocaine (pow- der) 28 grams of cocaine base the same block. That complaint, 100 kilograms of marijuana he said, made it to the city's or lOOplants planning department and it be- 5 grams of actual metham- come a code issue, phetamine or 50 grams of mix- "In the middle of that, the ture or substance." raid occurred," he said. "I had my medical cards hanging and I Those statutory ranges for explained I was a collective gar- 100 marijuana plants -- five to den and that I was at my limit 40 years behind bars -- might in each of these rooms. They apply elsewhere in this country, had raided a few grows before, but certainly not in Seattle. but they said they had never "One of them (the officers) seen one that was as well put to- said to me, 'Son if this was four gether or had their credentials years ago, we would have taken in line like mine had." your butt to jail.'" The officers proceeded to Instead, he got compliments uproot about 120 plants, stuff- on the ingenuity of his operation. ing them in garbage bags. The "I had a conversation with officers lefL the grower with 45 two of the officers when the lieu- plants, the legal limit for one tenant wasn't around and one of collective garden, the guys was like, 'Damn, did He was neither arrested nor you do this HVAC work all by cited for having 165 marijuana yourself?.'" plants. "I was scared, but I wasn't In 2013, the United Statesworried about going to prison," Sentencing Commission re- the grower said about the raid. leased a document titled "Drug "I figured, man, my spot's cam- Primer." It contains the follow- promised now. It means Yll ing language: probably have to move at some point ... I'm still dealing with "Pursuant to 21 U.S.C. the code enforcement depart- 841(b)(1)(B) and 960(b)(2), a ment. I'm just buying time now statutory range of 5 to 40 years before I have to move." continued from page C-11 The problem, as Morrell sees it, is that his institution doesn't have the resources to do the extra surveillance that is required for such accounts. "My interpretation is if you are a marijuana grow operation owner, you go to the state for a business license," Morrell said. "If we want to open an account for you, it becomes incumbent upon us to ask for that business license and validate that the state issued this license ... We have to confirm that what you told them you were going to be do- ing is what you're doing. We have to confirm that what you said in the busi- ness license application who you're selling to is who you're actually selling to. We have to look and validate your IRS tax return ... How do I look at a business income statement and their tax return and know that the dollars that are on the one statement are actu- ally correctly flowing into the other? "Numerica is much larger than we are," Morrell continued. "They have business and lending services as part of their operation already so they have a lot more personnel to manage this. I don't know what their fees are but I be- lieve they will be significant." Most observers say the only solution to this banking conundrum is for Congress or state legislatures to act. The Colorado Legislature passed a bill in May to allow the marijuana industry to pool their mon- ey into a cooperative, but the Washington Legislature has made no such move. However, a marijuana banking ef- fort has been launched in Congress. The Marijuana Business Access to Bank- ing Act was introduced in July 2013 "They estimate that the state adult recreational market in Washington could easily grow to $1 billion a year, i'm fairly confident that 1 O0 percent of financial institutions will not resist the opportunity," Rep. Denny Hock, l Oth Congressional District (D- Wash.) by U.S. Rep. Denny Heck, D-Olympia, who represents the southern section of Mason County, including Shelton, and parts of Thurston and Pierce counties, and fellow Democrat Rep. Ed Perlmut- ter of Colorado. Bill co-sponsors include fellow state Democrats Reps. Derek Kilmer, who represents Mason County north of Shelton, and Suzan DelBene, Jim McDermott and Adam Smith. It also includes Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of California. Under the bill, federal banking regulators may not threaten or limit a depository institutions' access to the Deposit Insurance Fund; discourage, prohibit or penalize depository institu- tions; take any action against a loan made to a covered business; and force a depository institution to halt providing any kind of banking services. '~e're still trying to get a hearing on the bill," Heck told the Journal dur- ing an interview at his Lacey office this spring. "It's just a massive educational effort ... There's lots of jokes going on in Congress, let me tell you. They have that tone or that spirit of not taking it serious- ly. You have to have Heck at least a paragraph with them before they get past that. At the end of the day, access to banking ser- vices is exactly what the Cole memo (the 2013 federal guidelines issued to Colora- do and Washington regarding their rec- reational markets) was all about. It had two top priorities: Keeping marijuana out of the hands of children and cash out of the hands of the gangs and cartels. "And those two, most people don't grasp them intuitively," Heck contin- ued. "Those two are very related. If this is an all-cash business, it's much more inclined to be engaged in by people who don't care whether you've turned 18 or 21. So, we really need this in the interest of public safety. You incentiv- ize the presence of organized crime in an all-cash business because the whole system is given to tax-avoidance ... No good comes from all cash." The bill started with 16 sponsors; it now has nearly three dozen. Heck says he's seeing an evolution of how his col- leagues are treating marijuana. "It's long and slow ... It will take years," Heck said. "I had a delightful conversation of about 10 minutes dura- tion one day last year with a pretty con- servative Republican from the Midwest and the first reaction I got was the roll of the eyes. And 10 minutes later, he was saying, 'I understand what you're saying to me.' They're not ready to go there yet, but they get it." Besides the worries about public safety, Heck sees that governments and banks won't be able to ignore the allure of money. "What I think will ultimately cause more to come in is just the sheer mar- ket opportunity," Heck said. "They esti- mate that the state adult recreational market in Washington could easily grow to $1 billion a year. I'm fairly confident that 100 percent of financial institu- tions will not resist the opportunity. So, here's what's going to happen. We're going to have a combination of things moving forward, and I don't know in what ratio. We're going to have those who do it on an all-cash basis. We're going to have those who figure out al- ternative banking-type arrangements. Cashless ATMs, Bitcoin ... I don't know. ... And we'll continue to have a winking and nodding relationships. 'Oh, you're a farmer, are you? Wink. Wink.'" Heck says he'll continue to push his bill. "Congress will follow the nation on this," Heck said. "Congress won't lead. And my job as I see it, in pursuit of pub- lic safety, is to continue to chip away at their awareness and educate one mem- ber of Congress one paragraph at a time." Presbyterian Two pounds of Church approves Cannabis found resolution to buried in 2,700-year- support medical old Chinese tomb marijuana Washington expands list of medical professionals authorized to recommend medical marijuana Washington residents, by a 55.7 percent to 44.3 percent margin, approve Initiative 502, legalizing possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana for people ages 21 and older. It also establishes protocols for creating state-run sales. The law goes into effect Dec. 6, 2012. Washington and Colorado become the first states to legalize possession of marijuana . '~ ~ ~ ............... March 23 - May 16: U.S. attorneys send letters to states with legal medical The U.S. Justice Department marijuana laws that Cannabis providers, and state employees involved in Aug. 29: Justice Department will not I ;:( i as the "Ogden memo" issues a memo- known : the regulation of medical marijuana, could be exposed to prosecution challenge state marijuana laws I - that states the federal July 8: DEA denies 2002 request to reclassify marijuana out of restrictive Oct. 22: National poll reveals that, for ! government will consider i Schedule I category the first time, a majority of people in : :~ ~ ' CREDITS: Chinese tomb, ScienceBIogs.com; medical marijuana Dec. 1: Washington and Rhode Island governors seek reclassification of the U.S. favor legalizing marijuana Justice Deportment, Shay Sowden, LAisr.com; prosecutions a low priority marijuana Jan. 1: Colorado becomes the first state to sell marijuana out of state-regulated stores July 8: Washington becomes second state to sell marijuana out of state- regulated stores II ] ii II ~11 I;] i I I ~]i I~ il I Ii | ~]li i II ,] [liimi: ~ . lmliHiilJ ~' ~[l~[" ! [ = r [~;