Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Washington Medical Marijuana Dispensary News
Protesters ask to keep medical marijuana dispensaries open
Meghann M. Cuniff / meghannc@spokesman. com, (509) 459-5534
September 14, 2009
Some have HIV. Others suffer from cancer or chronic pain from car
accidents and job injuries. One man burned most of his body in a gas
explosion as a toddler and wasn't expected to live.
All have a prescription to use marijuana in Washington, and all gathered
Monday outside the Spokane County Courthouse to protest the legal battle
brewing between law enforcement and the medical marijuana dispensaries
that police recommended be shut down last week.
"For the ones that it helps, we need to find a way to get them their
medicine," said lawyer John Clark, who does free legal work for
marijuana dispensaries. "I have some acquaintances who are going
through chemotherapy. For some people, it's just a miracle
The warning to the dispensaries came at the heels of the first police
raid in the state of Washington at a medical marijuana dispensary,
Change on Northwest Boulevard. About 11 dispensaries still operate in
the Seattle area.
Change owners Scott Shupe and Christopher Stevens face charges of felony
delivery of a controlled substance after a four-month police
investigation that centered on them providing marijuana to more than one
The law allows a person to provide medical marijuana to one authorized
patient "at any one time."
Prosecutors and police say that means dispensaries, which serve hundreds
of people, are illegal. Voters approved medical marijuana in 1998, and
the state Legislature set possession limits last year at a pound and a
half per person or 15 plants. But how users who don't grow can
obtain marijuana legally hasn't been addressed.
About 100 people gathered outside Spokane Regional Health District and
the courthouse Monday to ask officials to change that.
"Where are we supposed to tell our patients to go?" said Rhonda
Duncan, coowner of the dispensary Club Compassion. Club Compassion,
which specialized in marijuana-based food products, closed after
Thursday's raid at Change.
"All of my clients want to comply with the law and run it like any
other pharmacy," said Clark, who works with Club Compassion.
"We're just hoping that reasonable guidelines can be hammered
out so the responsible dispensaries can stay within those
Police investigated Shupe and Stevens knowing it could trigger a lengthy
court battle, which police said is needed to clarify a law even pot
advocates say is confusing.
Their investigation was fed by Shupe and Stevens' blatancy in
selling marijuana to more than 1,000 medical marijuana patients at
Change since April, according to a search warrant.
Drug detectives started watching them after seeing a TV news article in
May about the for-profit business, according to the warrant.
The men spent about a day in Spokane County Jail before a judge released
Stevens on his own recognizance and Shupe, who's facing felony
marijuana charges in Oregon, posted $10,000 bond.
http://www.spokesma n.com/stories/ 2009/sep/ 14/protesters- ask-keep- medical\
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Protests over closed medical marijuana dispensaries
01:42 PM PDT on Monday, September 14, 2009
SLIDESHOW > Patients hold rallies -
http://www.krem. com/perl/ common/slideshow /sspop.pl? recid=18232& location= \
SPOKANE-- Protesters gathered in Downtown Spokane Monday, to protest the
closing of seven marijuana dispensaries.
Protestors rallied in front of the Spokane Regional Health Department
and federal courthouse building.
The co-owners of one of those businesses, called "The Change Shop" were
arrested last week, accused of having too much medical marijuana, and
selling it to too many customers.
The controversy right now is over the wording of Washington's Initiative
692, which allows the sale of medical marijuana. Dispensaries argue they
are allowed to sell to multiple clients, but only serve one at a time.
However, Spokane Police say the law means each business may only have
http://www.krem. com/news/ local/stories/ krem2-091409- dispensary- protest.1\
Medical marijuana protesters want law clarified
SPOKANE, Wash. - Medical marijuana supporters once again made their
voices heard Monday by holding a protest outside the Spokane County
courthouse days after a police raid on a North Spokane medical marijuana
Thursday's raid on the medical marijuana dispensary 'Change' was
reported by police as the first such bust in the state of Washington.
The 'Change' shop is currently closed and immediately after the raid,
detectives advised other area medical marijuana dispensaries within the
City of Spokane to terminate their businesses as well.
In the 'Change' raid, two people - the co-owners and operators - were
arrested. Police say the shop had more than 1,000 customers which
violates medical marijuana law.
The law states that dispensaries with a legal medical license can
provide the drug to 'only one patient at any one time,' not the
multiple clients that 'Change' was said to have.
The law, as it reads, is at the center of the protests for shop owners.
They interpret the law as allowing for multiple patients, but serving
their needs one at a time.
The owners of 'Change' say they were following the law in that only one
patient was allowed in the shop at a time and they had a system of
signing in and out to ensure the law, as they read it, was followed.
Chantel Jackson, the owner of another dispensary,' Human Connection,'
shut down her shop after last week's bust on 'Change' and says she is
now looking for answers.
"We just need clarification on the law, the law officers, all the
officials are reading the law different than what we're reading it,"
Police say at this point people who have a medical license can grow
their own or get it from a care provider as long as that care provider
is only growing enough marijuana for a single patient.
With no operating dispensaries in Spokane, many of the protesters
expressed that the only place to go for the drug is to drug dealers.
A current medical marijuana user, Buffy Speaks, has had a prescription
since last spring and now has nowhere to go to buy the drug.
"It's putting a lot of patients at risk cause some of the patients are
resorting back to the 'black market' to get their medication," said
Speaks. "We want patients to get it legally and safely at dispensaries. "
Dispensary owners plan to try and speak during Monday night's City
Council meeting. KHQ Local News Reporter Tom Durian will be live from
City Hall at 6 p.m.
http://www.khq. com/global/ story.asp? s=11129360
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Medical marijuana laws need clarification
Posted: Monday, September 14, 2009 7:00 PM EST
Updated: Monday, September 14, 2009 7:37 PM EST
Story by: McKay Allen / KXLY4 Reporter
SPOKANE - Police, prosecutors and protesters all have a stake in the
medical marijuana law in Washington State and on Monday about 100 people
voiced their frustrations over the law in a protest in front of the
The protesters gathered to let police know they shouldn't have shut a
northside marijuana dispensary down, but there's more to it than the
protest. Some say last week's raid on Change in north Spokane and the
arrests of its owners could be the case that help clarify the medical
marijuana issue in Washington State.
That would be welcome news to police, prosecutors and protesters as
Four months ago after a change in state law several medical marijuana
dispensaries sprung up in Spokane selling marijuana to patients carrying
medical marijuana cards. Now the Spokane Police Department have shut
down the businesses and arrested the owners of the dispensary.
"I got out of jail Friday afternoon," Change co-owner Chris Stevens
The police have issued a warning to others in the Spokane area to stop
selling marijuana or they'd be arrested too.
"There's going to be a lot of people upset that they can't go to the
store and buy the marijuana," Spokane Police Department spokesperson
Jennifer DeRuwe said.
The problem seems to be confusion in the law itself. The law only allows
providers to sell to ''one patient at any one time'' What does that
mean? That only one client can be helped at a time? One a day? Or that
the dispensary can have only one client total?
Prosecutors say the law needs clarifying while protesters like Nathan
Graham agree, saying that the law "doesn't make any sense." Even the
police, which conducted the search warrants and made the arrests last
week, are looking for some guidance.
"We just really need to get some guidance on this issue," DeRuwe said.
"I don't know if the dispensaries are intentionally evading the law ...
it needs a clearer definition of what's allowed."
For now though police and prosecutors say that local medical marijuana
dispensaries were breaking the law in that they were selling to more
than one patient at any one time. That might solve one side's
interpretation of the law, but where does that leave the people who
thought they were following the law and can now no longer get medical
"They have no choice but to go back to the black market," Chantel
"I'm forced to go to drug dealers," Nathan Graham said.
Until there's additional clarification in the medical marijuana laws in
the state there's only one certainty in the issue: All local medical
marijuana dispensaries in Spokane will remain closed.
http://www.kxly. com/global/ story.asp? s=11129631