I-502: OPMA, MMJ, Public Records and the “Partnership”

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By John Worthington (background research also by Arthur West, John Novak)

(All exhibit links to box.com are from public record files in PDF format)

One of the main goals of Initiative I-502, as originally written and passed, was allegedly to create a policy change from enforcing marijuana crimes, to properly enforcing property crimes by ‘legalizing” marijuana for persons over 21.

Once the “legalization” initiative passed, the marijuana prohibition stakeholders, AKA the “partnership” went to work to reverse the policy goals outlined in I-502. (Exhibit 1 https://app.box.com/s/rmgcsqu9eknlx5zbp7o9 )

The “partnership” immediately orchestrated numerous secret meetings for I-502 implementation, to further remarket the marijuana prohibition bureaucracy and directed the Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB) take steps to get rid of medical marijuana.

Despite the best efforts to hide these meetings, enough information began to leak out to the marijuana activists, that they were able piece together how the “partnership,” influenced the WSLCB. The documents they obtained show how the “partnership” set out to increase local law enforcement funding and de-incentivize medical marijuana.

These public records obtained by various individuals and advocacy groups also show the subversion began with the secret Association of Washington Cities (AWC – a non-profit made up of corporations and government agencies) and law enforcement meetings with the Washington State Liquor Control Board. The messages and goals for this new Meta organization was clear, get rid of medical marijuana, and divert I-502 revenue to the cities and counties.

According to the notes from these secret Liquor Control Board meetings with local, state and federal agencies set up by the AWC; medical marijuana was no longer needed because the State now had a “legal” marijuana system. The notes also described in detail how the “partnership” wanted medical marijuana to be repealed and also wanted local law enforcement budget increases. The LCB then took this agenda to the editorial boards of newspapers around the state.  (Exhibit 2 https://app.box.com/s/o4cips7jho2mejgho5cs  See also https://app.box.com/s/asxmcnzjp2zxj4fbksxe)

The “partnership” grew to include the Washington State Association of Counties (WSAC),Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys (WAPA),Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (WASPC), Municipal Research and Services Center (MRSC), Washington Association of County Officials (WACO), Washington State Patrol (WSP), Washington State Department of Revenue (DOR), the Washington State Attorney General’s Office (WAAG) and Washington Association For Substance Abuse And Violence Prevention (WASAVP).

The WSLCB arranged to have the legislature “give them cover”, by creating legislation that would allow them a “place at the table,” for medical marijuana discussions. This strategy is outlined in an email from WSLCB board member Chris Marr to the agency director, Rick Garza.
(Exhibit 3 https://app.box.com/s/di9dkswq8v250c5ihs8u )

The email from Marr also introduced the other players in the Meta leadership. These players, knowing or unknowing, were Senator Ann Rivers and I-502 entrepreneur Ezra Eickmeyer.
(Exhibit 4 https://app.box.com/s/y90s7ff4z4sho6s8wxb0 )

Eickmeyer, through Senator Rivers, proceeded to draft SB 5887, which proposed to create a medical marijuana work group, however, the bill did not pass. Senator Rivers and Eickmeyer then acted to get a medical marijuana work group passed “Amendment #224” in the state’s budget bill, SB 5034, to which Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles objected to because “too many conclusions would be drawn behind closed doors.

Senator Kohl-Welles put out an email on June 2, 2014 addressing concerns about the process.

“It has also has resulted in a high level of concern on the part of many patient and other advocacy groups — including even outright opposition being expressed in rallies and demonstrations.  I am concerned that we would be handing over too much of our responsibility to a regulatory agency.  I also worry that too many conclusions would be drawn behind closed doors, and that the process for creating these rules would circumvent public input.  In many ways, the LCB has a vested interest in diverting business from the medical collectives now operating and into the retail stores when they open early next year.  It is easy to argue the LCB also has a vested interest in wanting to add to its regulatory scope, and bring the medical cannabis industry into its system. This may turn out to be the end result down the road, or it may be determined that another state agency should have that responsibility.  For these and other reasons, I think it best to have the LCB focus on its task at hand, that given to them by the voters in approving I-502 — an initiative that specifically mentions it will have no effect on medical cannabis laws.

(Exhibit 5 https://app.box.com/s/mf2fg3nscjxag7asj79y )

Meanwhile, the rest of the “partnership” worked behind the scenes to create law enforcement funding legislation for the “partnership.” The Washington State Patrol’s Investigative Assistance Division (IAD), was tasked to help “shape” I-502 policy. (Exhibit 6 https://app.box.com/s/eepfhipts7ty6svlvxzp )

The IAD is staffed by officers considered to be loaned state employees to the federal government subject to the Westfall and Federal Tort Claims Act.

Essentially, the federal government also had a hand in I-502 secret rulemaking process through the cross designated members of the WSP and in direct meetings with the DEA and U.S. Attorney’s office.

Soon after the passage of initiative I-502, the broad and powerful “partnership” had managed to convert the policy goals of redirecting law enforcement funding to property crimes to adding local law enforcement funding and getting rid of medical marijuana.

The Washington State Liquor Control Board had arranged its “place at the table”, and the “partnership”, managed to set forth a mechanism to glean law enforcement funding increases and interfere with medical marijuana laws when I-502 appeared to advertise just the opposite.
(Exhibit 7 https://app.box.com/s/uhke9k9wda5tdjsx93cs )

For its part the work group, began its job of eliminating or de-incentivizing medical marijuana under the guise of merging it with recreational marijuana.  (Exhibit 8 https://app.box.com/s/rdkfowosyuwyzodgyzs4 )

The medical marijuana work group had the same open public meetings problem as the I-502 implementation process. They also did not want the public to hear who it was they were working with in private and publically show how they arrived at its decisions.

The Governor’s office, with help from the local U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan did their part by making sure the public knew that the medical marijuana situation was “untenable”.
(Exhibit 9 https://app.box.com/s/c5m8ogtl8hod59lmewbr )

The urgency for a “robust” regulatory system for marijuana was further ratcheted up with the use of a document referred to as the “Cole Memorandum”, which was actually requested by the LCB, and not a mandate generated by the U.S. Attorney’s office at the request of the Governor’s office.
(Exhibit 10 https://app.box.com/s/o4cips7jho2mejgho5cs )

The following legislative session in 2014, SB 5887 and a new bill from Senator Jeanne Kohl Welles SB 6178, offered two approaches on how to integrate and de-incentivize medical marijuana. Representative Eileen Cody also proposed HB 2149 that same legislative session.

All of the bills contained language which highlighted the recommendations of the medical marijuana working group. The battle of killing medical marijuana in the 2014 legislative session began in earnest.

The legislators had several major hurdles to clear in order to kill medical marijuana. The most formidable of which was the fiscal impacts of the “robust” regulatory system which now included more law enforcement funding not included in the I-502 earmarks.

The fiscal notes to the Ways and Means and House Finance committees, which were put forth at the last second, did not include the actual cost of implementing the ratcheted up “robust” marijuana regulatory scheme.

Furthermore, the small business impact studies were incomplete further misleading the actual financial impact of the medical marijuana killing legislation.

Some legislators refused to consider more law enforcement funding because the initiative claimed to be saving money on law enforcement funding.  (Exhibit 11 https://app.box.com/s/j9aq6xp77d3ut7fdlg1v )

“The argument for the initiative was that it’s going to lower public safety costs, and now they’re saying it’s going to increase public safety costs with absolutely no data. (It’s) troubling,” said House Finance Committee Chairman Reuven Carlyle (D-Seattle) in an interview.

Many marijuana activists claimed victory when all the medical marijuana bills failed to pass out of the 2014 legislative session.

The 2015 legislative session is underway and the legislature should be informed of what the I-502 rule making process has become so they can properly achieve policy goals set forth by the public.

 

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