eattle Central College’s Continuing Education program recently earned the distinction of offering Washington State’s first approved certification for medical marijuana consultants (MMC). Under the state’s new medical marijuana law, the Cannabis Patient Protection Act (SB 5052), recreational stores that wish to obtain a medical marijuana endorsement are required to have one trained MMC on staff at all times, and at least 25 percent of their inventory must be “medically compliant” products.
The certification is, essentially, a new requirement for those in the budtending business, as a majority of retailers have obtained medical endorsements. It ain’t cheap—the application fee is $95 and the course itself costs $499—but the Washington State Department of Health surveyed retailers, and most responded that they would cover the cost for employees interested in the program.
Seventy-seven percent of stores surveyed (about one-third of operating stores as of last fall) said they would cover the costs of training, and more than half said they would definitely offer higher wages to employees who obtained the certification.
Seattle Central’s 20-hour program is conducted entirely online, but it includes 10 hours of live, interactive instruction. Instructors include Dr. Jake Felice, a naturopath with cannabis experience, and Nicole Li, a local cannabis lawyer and patient privacy advocate. Trey Reckling, who founded the Science of Cannabis Institute, primarily designed the course. His institute previously offered non-state-sanctioned vocational training to those seeking employment in the cannabis industry.
Reckling partnered with Seattle Central’s Continuing Education program to meet state requirements that courses be offered through an accredited institution, and he praised them highly for leading the way on cannabis education.
“Seattle Central is so progressive,” he said. “They’ve got a national reputation for being progressive, and they’re proving themselves. They’ve been fantastic.”
Colorado, which has suffered plenty of angst over how to regulate edible cannabis products, is now home to the country’s first edible-related wrongful death lawsuit. On April 14, 2014, Richard Kirk bought a 100-milligram pot candy from Nutritional Elements Inc., ate some of it, and shortly thereafter shot and killed his wife, Kristine Kirk, according to the Denver Post. Kristine Kirk’s parents, now legal custodians of the couple’s three sons, filed the lawsuit on behalf of the boys, naming Gaia’s Garden and Nutritional Elements as defendants and alleging that the marijuana edible caused Richard Kirk’s violent outburst.
Before her death, Kristine Kirk called 911 to report that her husband was “ranting about the end of the world and jumping in and out of windows,” reported the Post. In addition to damages, the lawsuit is asking for tighter regulation of cannabis edibles in Colorado, where currently there are no laws about warning labels and dosing.
In Washington, individual packages of edibles cannot contain more than 10 milligrams of THC, though multiple doses can be sold individually wrapped within a larger package. Colorado has allowed edibles with up to 100 milligrams in a single item, and the candy that Richard Kirk ate part of was small for such a sizable dose—about the size of a Tootsie Roll. Maureen Dowd of the New York Times famously convinced herself that she was dead after eating a 100-milligram candy bar, and she wrote a column calling for better labeling on edibles. Though it’s unclear whether Richard Kirk’s cannabis intake was a factor in his actions, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Dowd’s recommendations become actual regulations as a result.
Feds Make an Example of Michigan?
The days of federal raids are not over, apparently. On May 3, Michigan state police and the FBI busted three locations of the cannabis dispensary HydroWorld in Lansing, confiscating plants, supplies, money, and personal items, according to WLNS.
Danny Trevino, the dispensary’s owner, said the raid surprised him. “To me, they could have handled it a little better. Go after it civilly like a public nuisance instead of criminally,” he told WLNS.
In Michigan, where medical marijuana is legal, dispensaries still occupy a precarious position. Even though Michigan voters approved the Medical Marihuana Act in 2008, there’s been an ongoing dispute over interpretation of the law.
Also in that state, there are two medical marijuana cases currently before the state court of appeals. In both cases, the defendants were unable to use the state’s medical marijuana law as a defense during trial. “The Supreme Court has essentially determined that dispensaries are illegal, though some continue to operate in certain parts of the state,” reported MLive.com.
While federal officials appear willing to bust businesses that fail to comply with state regulations, their actions are increasingly viewed as out of step with voters—and political leaders. In Oakland, the Feds recently dropped their lawsuit against Harborside, the city’s largest dispensary. In a statement about the decision, Congresswoman Barbara Lee said, “It’s past time for the federal government to stop standing between these patients and their medicine.”