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Monday, March 11, 2013

‘Potrepreneurs’ Wait For Federal Decision On Marijuana

Married couple Kimberly Bliss, left, and Kim Ridgway, right, pose for a photo at their home in Lacey, Wash, in February 2013. On the table in front of them is medical marijuana and a water pipe that Ridgway uses to treat arthritis and severe anxiety. (Ted S. Warren/AP)

Married couple Kimberly Bliss, left, and Kim Ridgway, right, pose for a photo at their home in Lacey, Wash, in February 2013. On the table in front of them is medical marijuana and a water pipe that Ridgway uses to treat arthritis and severe anxiety. (Ted S. Warren/AP)

Washington state residents Kim Ridgway and Kimberly Bliss are planning to open a store selling marijuana, now that voters in that state have legalized the possession of up to one ounce for adults over 21.

But the married couple is afraid that any day now the federal government may decide to prosecute sellers of marijuana, because it remains illegal under federal law.

“As a person who is trying to start a business, I’m really concerned.”
– Kim Ridgway

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is expected to say this week whether the Department of Justice plans to prosecute growers and sellers in states where pot is legal.

“As a person who is trying to start a business, I’m really concerned. A lot of what I’m doing is waiting to find out what his decision is before I go much further and want to invest too much more money or time into this,” Ridgway told Here & Now’s Robin Young.

State officials in Washington – and Colorado – are also waiting to hear what the federal government has to say, as they try to write new rules for growers and sellers of marijuana.

Ridgway is anxious to find out what the state regulations will be, including safety and liability rules.

Kimberly Bliss, left, and her wife Kim Ridgway, right, look at recipes for marijuana "edibles" as they sit at their dining room table in February 2013. (Ted S. Warren/AP)

Kimberly Bliss, left, and her wife Kim Ridgway, right, look at recipes for marijuana “edibles” as they sit at their dining room table in February 2013. (Ted S. Warren/AP)

“Somebody has to be the first one to get out there and want to do it,” said Ridgway, who uses medical marijuana to treat arthritis and anxiety. “I’ve chosen to be proactive with this – be one of the first to pioneer this. I’m sure that there’s going to be some really hard times ahead with the federal government and everybody involved.”

A United Nations-based drug agency has said the U.S. would be violating international treatises if the state laws are allowed to stand.

Former drug agency officials have asked the Obama administration to sue the states that have legalized recreational marijuana.

That’s the course of action that Seattle Times columnist Jonathan Martin predicts the federal government will actually take.

“The question folks like Kim are looking for is, is there going to be a clear bright line ‘We allow this’ or ‘We’re not going to allow this,’ or is there going to be sort of a fuzzy line, as was placed on medical marijuana? I just don’t think that we’re going to get the Justice Department saying ‘This is OK, this is not OK.”

Do you expect the federal government to crack down on pot growers/sellers in states where it’s legal? Tell us on Facebook.

Guests:

  • Kim Ridgway, marijuana entrepreneur.
  • Jonathan Martin, editorial writer and columnist for The Seattle Times. He tweets @jmartin206.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • http://twitter.com/JohnnyFroggg J Frog

    What about advertising?  Perhaps a jingle like “this Buds for you”.  Or maybe mascot?  I think “Joe Cannibis” is available.

  • Tom Howey

    Robin, a strange connection between two stories. Legal Pot and the USA budget. If they continue messing with my future retirement age and social security entitlement, I may be working to such an advanced age that I’d really appreciate the legal Pot!

  • YahooU

    For states that have legalized pot:  What are they doing with people who are currently incarcerated for possession? 

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/E5GOLOMHXXEKCXPBFTN5PCLSOM Ms Chocolate

       Didn’t Washington drop the charges on quite a few?

  • xjereme

    “if a national prohibition on drug possession violated a nation’s constitution, those provisions would not be binding on that country”…..this is written in the treaty and are the operating words to dismantle our current pickle…

  • Chris

    So much for turning this into a cottage industry! From the sound of it the business upstart costs alone will push retail prices in metropolitan storefronts far above what is reasonable.

  • PhilDeBowl

    I’m afraid that Greed will be the undoing of 502. The state will go with a Few licensed growers who will be equipped with sufficient funds to supply the demand,makes sense to me. Unfortunetly those are people looking for a big return,especially if the question of federal intervention is not resolved,so they will be looking at what the market price IS, not what it should be,therefore insuring a continued ,if not slightly smaller Black market.
    The only way this model would work is if you eliminated the competition,and I just can’t imagine how utterly beyond Moronic that would look.

    • David Mowers

       For starters businesses that deal illegal drugs are not allowed under federal law to deduct any expenses including payroll from taxable income. Under the I.R.S.’s definition something on the order of 75% of the revenue belongs to them as they set the tax rate for marijuana sales not you and they don’t care what you say you sold it for.

  • guest

    I can hear Robins bias when she laughs at the subjective of  legalizing cannabis. Why not have Mason Tevert on to explain the anti prohibitionist position? Please, Robin, do your due diligence to represent both sides fairly. Thank you. 

    • anon

      Personally, I love Robin and this show, but I have to agree with you as a long-time toker that the chuckles, puns, and munchies jokes which pepper every marijuana discussion on NPR get under my skin. I’m well educated, read constantly, and as sharp in wit as the next girl. Smoking weed is like drinking underage, incredibly easy in product acquisition and only the foolhardy ever get caught. Still, I look forward to NPR stories on the subject of legalization, then cringe my way through the lifestyle biases. Just know, state and federal governments, while you dicker around on this issue I’ll be high as f— either way.

  • David Mowers

    Accepting U.S. currency for marijuana, drug paraphernalia and depositing money from sales in a bank account  constitutes money laundering so I fail to see how anyone can ever in any State regardless of that State’s laws get around federal money laundering charges. Medical marijuana dispensaries are illegal under federal law.

    • Seth

      That is the whole point of the article. If the feds decide to not prosecute then obviously they would not have to worry about federal money laundering charges. On top of that most of the companies are privately invested or publicly traded, which also gets around the whole bank aspect. I hope Holder does decide not to prosecute, its a dumb law to begin with. There are much worse things we should worry about than marijuana.

  • PhilDeBowl

    Guess the Feds will have to change Their laws.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/E5GOLOMHXXEKCXPBFTN5PCLSOM Ms Chocolate

     

    I can understand the other countries saying that the US
    accepting marijuana would be in violation of UN treaties. This is true, but this
    did not stop Canada. What makes this such a big deal is that in 1960, it was
    the US that presented the first treaty, and who have been beating other
    countries with it since.  What many may
    not know is that the US also signed treaties against capital punishments. We still
    here of folks dying in a electric chair and such. When called on this issue,
    the US stated that at the federal level capital punishment is a no-no, what
    Texas and other states do to their prisoners is protected under the 10th
    Amendment, which covers “states rights”. Yeah, I see it – but the government does
    not.  

  • Bradandrews

    So much for states making their own decisions? The United StatE of America? This country is a joke.

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