Gene Johnson

Associated Press Reporter

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Legal Marijuana
10:14 am
Fri March 14, 2014

FBI Balks At Background Checks For Wash. Pot License Applicants

FILE - In this Aug. 16, 2013 file photo, a man wears an American flag as he walks past a vendor selling tie-dyed products at the first day of Hempfest in Seattle.
Elaine Thompson AP Photo

The FBI is refusing to run nationwide background checks on people applying to run legal marijuana businesses in Washington state, even though it has conducted similar checks in Colorado — a discrepancy that illustrates the quandary the Justice Department faces as it allows the states to experiment with regulating a drug that's long been illegal under federal law.

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Legal Marijuana
3:57 pm
Tue March 4, 2014

1st Wash. State Pot License Goes To Spokane Grower Named Green

File image
Ed Andrieski AP Photo

Washington state's first legal marijuana license is going to a guy named Green.

The Associated Press has learned that Spokane grower Sean Green, the chief executive of a company called Kouchlock Productions, is due to be issued a producer-processor license at the state Liquor Control Board meeting in Olympia on Wednesday morning.

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Washington Supreme Court
10:57 am
Thu February 27, 2014

Justices: People Have Right To Privacy In Texts

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Silvia Izquierdo AP Photo

Washington's Supreme Court says people have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the text messages they send from their phones — even if they can't know for sure who might be reading them.

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Defamation Suit
12:16 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

Judge Tosses Out Author Ann Rule's Lawsuit Against Seattle Weekly

A judge has thrown out true-crime author Ann Rule's defamation lawsuit against a weekly Seattle newspaper.

Rule sued the Seattle Weekly and freelance author Rick Swart over a piece published in 2011 that accused her of "sloppy storytelling" and criticized her book about an Oregon woman who killed her husband.

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Legal Marijuana
11:36 am
Thu January 16, 2014

State Attorney General: Cities Can Block Pot Business

File image
Matilde Campodonico AP Photo

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson says cities and counties can block licensed marijuana businesses from operating.

In a long-awaited opinion Thursday, Ferguson says the state's legal marijuana law, Initiative 502, leaves local governments the option of adopting moratoriums or bans that prohibit licensed grow operations, processing facilities or retail shops from their jurisdictions.

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Marijuana Licenses
10:04 am
Tue January 7, 2014

Wash. State Faces Prospect Of Too Many Pot Growers

File image
AP Photo

Washington state could be facing a curious economic problem: too many pot growers.

More than 2,600 applications have been submitted to produce the marijuana that will be sold at state-licensed stores when Washington's legal marijuana industry opens for business this year.

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Medical Marijuana
1:34 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

Liquor Control Board Recommends Limit Of 6 Plants Per Medical Pot Patient

AP Photo

Washington state is looking at a major overhaul of its medical marijuana system, to avoid competition with the recreational market and to avert any crackdowns from the federal government.

The state's Liquor Control Board on Wednesday approved its final recommendations to the Legislature about how it believes the largely unregulated medical system can be brought under the umbrella of Initiative 502.

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gay rights
4:00 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

In Wake of Suit, BNSF to Offer Benefits to Same-Sex Spouses

Eli Hall, center, looks on as his husband and BNSF engineer Michael Hall, left, talks to reporters, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013, in Seattle.
Ted S. Warren Associated Press

The nation's largest freight rail carriers have announced they will provide health benefits to the same-sex spouses of their employees, one day after legally married, gay engineers filed a federal lawsuit in Seattle.

Gus Melonas, a spokesman for BNSF Railway Co., read the statement from the National Railway Labor Conference to The Associated Press on Wednesday. The conference represents the railroad companies in dealings with labor groups.

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civil rights
11:55 am
Wed December 4, 2013

Judge: Two Wash. Towns Failed Poor Defendants' Rights

A federal judge has ruled that two Washington cities have systematically violated the rights of poor defendants to have legal representation.

The state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union sued Mount Vernon and Burlington two years ago, alleging that public defenders there were so overworked that they amounted to little more than "a warm body with a law degree."

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gay rights
5:04 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

Two Same-Sex Couples Sue BNSF over Health Benefits

Michael and Eli Hall, right, hold their marriage license certificate, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013 as they talk to reporters in Seattle.
Ted S. Warren Associated Press

Listen to Paul Wissel discuss the story with Dave Meyer.
Listen to Paula Wissel's story.

Two workers are suing BNSF, one of the nation's largest rail companies, saying their same-sex spouses have repeatedly been denied health benefits even though gay marriage is legal in Washington state.

The lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Seattle states BNSF refused to add the spouses of locomotive engineer Michael Hall and conductor Amie Garrand to their plans.

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american held in Mexico
11:17 am
Tue November 26, 2013

Family Calls for Release of Wash. Woman Held in Mexico

The family of a Washington state woman who leads a vigilante police force in Mexico is pushing for her to be released after three months in custody on kidnapping allegations.

Supporters of Nestora Salgado say the charges are trumped up. The International Human Rights Clinic at Seattle University School of Law on Monday petitioned the United Nations for her release.

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Marijuana DUI
10:40 am
Thu November 21, 2013

More Drivers Test Positive for Pot in Wash. State

Associated Press

New figures from the Washington State Patrol show that more drivers have tested positive for marijuana since the state legalized the drug last year.

In the first six months of 2013, the patrol's crime lab says, 745 people tested positive for marijuana. Typically there are about 1,000 positive pot tests on drivers in a full year.

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marijuana laws
1:14 pm
Tue November 5, 2013

Colo., Wash. Courts Weigh Lawyer Pot Use, Advice

Associated Press

Seattle attorney Kurt Boehl is happy to think he's contributing to the success of Washington's grand experiment in regulating marijuana by advising his clients on how to navigate the industry's legal complexities.

But there's a worry that his efforts could earn him an ethics complaint. After all, marijuana is illegal under federal law, and lawyers aren't supposed to help their clients break the law.

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taxing marijuana
10:31 am
Thu October 31, 2013

Will Wash. State's Legal Pot Taxes Go to Health Care?

Associated Press

One selling point of Washington's new legal marijuana law was that a huge chunk of pot-related tax revenue would be devoted to health coverage for low-income residents.

But it's not clear the money will go to health care after all.Under the federal Affordable Care Act, also known as "Obamacare," a would-be recipient of the pot taxes— Washington's Basic Health Plan—is being eliminated. The plan, which provided low-cost health insurance to the working poor, is being absorbed by Medicaid and will end Dec. 31, according the state Health Care Authority.

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regulating marijuana
2:30 pm
Sun October 20, 2013

Panel Examines Future of Medical Pot in Wash.

Elaine Thompson Associated Press

As the proprietor of a medical marijuana dispensary in Seattle, Dawn Darington has seen patients wracked by AIDS and cancer. She's also seen "patients" who show up for a free pot brownie and never come back.

Now, Washington is pushing forward with plans to entice the latter into its new world of legal, taxed recreational pot, and advocates like Darington say they're worried about where that's going to leave those who actually need cannabis.

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