Hillary Clinton endorses CASP/We are Lab Techs of Democracy


by Dominic Corva, Executive Director

Yesterday at a CNN Town Hall meeting, likely 2016 Democratic nominee for Prez Hillary Clinton reiterated a ubiquitous political standpoint on “legal” aka “recreational” cannabis:  Washington and Colorado are political geography experiments:

“”On recreational, you know, states are the laboratories of democracy,” Clinton said. “We have at least two states that are experimenting with that right now. I want to wait and see what the evidence is.””

I’ll take that as an endorsement of CASP’s raison d’etre, learning lessons for legal landscapes.  We are lab techs of democracy.  Do I have any graphic designers out there that want to make that T shirt?

*The discourse of states as laboratories of democracy is a metaphor for Federalism and comes from Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis in New State Ice Co. v Liebmann (1932).





Cannabis: Still a “Signal of Misunderstanding”

by Dominic Corva, Executive Director


Since I’m producing original content for the Ganjier, I’ll cross-post the title and first paragraph of each piece followed by a link to the rest of it.

The passage of “CBD only” cannabis legislation in Florida this week signals a new challenge to the national discourse around what, exactly, is cannabis and to what extent it can be integrated into social policy — in this case public health policy.  While efforts to educate the public on the limits to this approach by the Drug Policy Alliance here and by Project CBD’s Martin Lee here exist, I want to historically situate what I’ll call the contemporary “CBD shift” in national cannabis policy debates …”

Read the rest here

Introducing the Ganjier collaboration

by Dominic Corva, Executive Director

I am honored to collaborate with one of Southern Humboldt’s finest, Kevin Jodrey, on The Ganjier.   My introduction and pre-populated content are linked below.


Q&A with Ganjier Contributor Dr. Dominic Corva


Beyond Black and White in Washington State


What’s California got to do with Washington?


CASP evolution: Welcome new Board members

by Dominic Corva, Executive Director

It’s been a busy and volatile year since I founded the Center for the Study of Cannabis and Social Policy.  Our first Board consisted of myself, Dr. Sunil Aggarwal and Dr. Michelle Sexton.  Although Sunil has had to leave the Board to concentrate on just of few of the many important things he’s doing, including an upcoming NIH fellowship, he was instrumental in jump-starting CASP’s credibility and weaving his incredibly valuable network into ours.  We anticipate the day he can rejoin the organization, but his contributions continue to help our organization going forward.

Our first year was an improvisational performance to a certain extent.  We were open to following the research and policy paths that opened up to us on a daily basis, while relying primarily on volunteer energy and inter-organizational collaboration.  There were so many short-term projects related to informing the public and policymakers about how legal landscapes were developing.  Of all of these, the  Health Before Happy Hour campaign consumed the most time and energy for me personally.  Turns out the biggest short term policy intersection for legal cannabis was … medical cannabis policy. This was not something I anticipated coming in.

While we continue to work on the intersection of medical and cannabis policy, we are at last making substantive headway into legal cannabis policy and economic geography; chemotype mapping; and genetic geographies.  The chemotype mapping project is complementary to Dr. Sexton’s new role as co-owner and manager of Phytalab which just opened in Seattle.

As you may realize, my role as Executive Director supports my ongoing research into the political economy of cannabis agriculture, and this in turn has helped create a grounded network of allies/ethnographic subjects in Washington State.  From this emergent community, we have asked four amazing people to join the board and in conjunction with Michelle, this five member Board will take charge of fundraising and professionalization for the organization.  I am proud to call them my bosses!  In no particular order, please welcome:

Don Wirtschafter:  Don is a countercultural institution in and of himself, having participated in hemp and cannabis politics since there was any such thing.  He played a key role in the formation of GW Pharmaceuticals as a medical research company, pre-corporate global ambitions.  He has served on the board of national NORML, owned and operated Ohio’s pioneering Hemp Store, and practiced law up until recently, when he moved to Washington state to develop an I-502 compliant cannabis business.

Aaron Varney:  Aaron is co-owner of Dockside Cooperative, the first access point to earn Patient-Focused Certification from Americans for Safe Access.  He is an expert cultivator and now is navigating Dockside’s transition to 502 retail.  I first met Aaron through Dr. Sexton and we are both thrilled that he accepted a position on our Board.

Rachel Kurtz:  Rachel is a Seattle Drug Policy Activist and lawyer for Wykowski and Associates.  I first met Rachel while working on the King County Bar Association Drug Policy Project in 2003-2004, and hired her as CASP lawyer not long after I formed the organization.  She has extensive experience serving on nonprofit Boards and is the speaker coordinator for Seattle Hempfest.


Naz Victoria: Naz, a Pennsylvania transplant, is one of the first 50 producer/processors to get the go-ahead from the Washington State Liquor Control Board.  In addition to being an experienced businessman, he is well-versed in the history of cannabis markets and supports outdoor, sungrown cannabis for environmental and economic reasons.  His facility is located in Okanagon, Washington, where the first efforts to create a national Sun Growers association are emerging.

I could say so much more about these people, and undoubtedly will in the future.  They represent the conscientious wing of cannabis industry and activism, are committed to reality-based policy, and have a clearly defined commitment to cannabis and social policy.  They have become my friends and confidants, and I am honored indeed to bring them on board!

Berlin recap


(Dr. Horst-Dietrich-Elvers, Dr. Dominic Corva; Dr. Jan-Henrik Friedrichs; Dr. D.J. Korff)

by Dr. Dominic Corva, Executive Director

I can hardly believe it was a few hours short of a week ago I left Seattle for Berlin to participate in a conference on the topic of Cannabis Legalization at Berlin’s Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg Museum.  The public event was very well attended and featured a terrific keynote address from Dr. Jan-Henrik Friedrichs, cultural historian, on conditions of urban development and refugee politics that catalyzed the need for a public discussion on a proposal being developed by the District mayor, Monika Herman, to establish a legal cannabis market in the  Goerlitzer Park.

As with cannabis politics in modernity, the social issue had very little to do with cannabis itself and mostly to do with the concentration of African refugees selling cannabis in the “Gurly” as the park is known locally.  This issue seems to have developed over the last three years:  drug dealing by young black men in the park has been common in the past, but some families and children’s social workers are reporting themselves “squeezed out” of the park due to aggressive marketing.

This is apparently the consequence of dealers being “pushed out” of other Berlin parks in recent years, rather than simply a matter of more consumption or dealing.  While accurate numbers are probably hard to come by, one panelist suggested that 90% of the dealing in the park is in cannabis flowers. Additionally, property values around the park seem to be rising rapidly with the intensification of gentrification.  Mayor Herman’s plan, in principle, seemed intended to regulate and formalize local cannabis markets in order to (a) prevent the rise of “hard drug” markets; (b) make things easier on the local refugee population as they are increasingly stigmatized as drug dealers and (c) address local concerns about especially children’s safety in the park.

The Mayor’s point person on this initiative is Dr. Elvers, pictured above on the left.  Dr. Elvers was the only person in the audience really prepared to discuss technical issues associated with implementation rather than political issues including whether or not refugee issues could be addressed through legalization.  Dr. Elvers has his job cut out for him, and both the Dutch professor Dr. Korff (above, far right) and myself had limited relevant comparative context for addressing his technical questions.  Dr. Korff’s perspective is from the Dutch coffeeshop system, which is a decrim policy for retail and on-site consumption; and mine of course is from Seattle/the U.S. where 20 years of medical cannabis politics have created more fertile grounds for addressing legalization.  I did, however, get a chance to talk to him one-on-one where I urged him to start with community meetings, to get reticent locals — the ones who are complaining about the Gurly Park situation — to feel like they have a voice and to have a place where they can voice their fears.  His reaction was fascinating:  apparently that’s what he wanted to push for first but the mayor’s office decided other things were more important.

At any rate, the conference was a terrific success — attended by the Berlin Mayor and a Federal politician who has long advocated cannabis lilberalization, Hans-Christian Ströbele.  Museum director Martin Duspohl was amused the next day to find out how the right wing newspaper covered the conference: by announcing that it cost $5000 Euros, highlighting my participation and that of noted leftist and national politician Hans-Christian Ströbele.  It is my honor to have such a person as second bill in a complaint about wasted taxpayer dollars!  The conference was covered with more nuance and discussion here and here.


*****The flyer for the conference, in German******

“Legalize It!?” Conference Flyer PDF: Legalize_It_final_20-5-14_web




Reading the retail lottery landscape 1.0

by Dominic Corva, Executive Director

As producers and processors move slowly through the licensing process, we have at last another milestone in the development of Legal Cannabis Landscapes in Washington State. Thursday the WSLCB held its retail application lottery and released that information to the public — with the exception of Longview, where a lawsuit prevented the release of those results.

What do we know about the results?  Although news reports and maps are currently showing 254 lottery “winners” in 75 jurisdictions where applicants exceeded available retail spots, it’s very important to realize a few key things about what we don’t know.

1.  There were an additional 47 jurisdictions in which 80 retail slots were up for grabs.  That’s a huge chunk of the 122 jurisdictions and 334 total retail slots for which we have no information.

2.  Many businesses played the lottery game by submitting multiple applications.  Each application counted as a separate lottery entry.  Some businesses managed to snag more than one retail slot, although they cannot have more than one retail location.  So the first cut is the one where businesses with multiple winners decide which one they want to open, and the other locations are removed from the ranking list.  This has already happened in Federal Way, according to Federal Way applicant Stefani Quane.  Her ranking (she was at 6 and needed to get to three) moved up one because two of the top 3 in Federal Way were from the same business.  Undoubtedly, this is happening in other jurisdictions.

3.  The retail “winners” win only the right to have their applications reviewed further.  The WSLCB will be examining financial backgrounds, background checks, and other criteria.  If and when a “winner” is eliminated, the other applicants will move up in the rankings.

4.  There is clearly a clustering issue, with Ballard and Sodo hosting about half of the locations., This has significant policy implications for two reasons.  One, because the WSLCB has made certain claims around consumer access in support of arguments about the 502 system being capable of providing safe access in lieu of medical access points. The other is that access to legal cannabis should have a significant effect on consumer choices (medical or not) about whether to stick with their convenient — often delivered — black market access or see if the legal retail stores can meet their preferences.

5.  The flip side of the clustering issue is what parts of Seattle have no retail locations.  The University District, Capitol Hill, and South Seattle are all significant clusters of current cannabis consumption, and there are no retail stores in these areas.

6.  Lawsuits.  No way to tell how many or for what right now other than WSLCB filing errors or the perception thereof.

The Center is working on mapping the retail landscape throughout the state with a special focus on Seattle and King County.  Until then, this is the location of my favorite map so far which not only locates the “winners” but identifies their lottery ranking:


Geographies of Legal Cannabis Real Estate in Washington: An interview with Tom Gordon

by Dominic Corva, Executive Director

Last week I had a chance to sit down with I-5 Real Estate owner Tom Gordon.  Tom is one of the few cannabis real estate stakeholders that I see regularly at activist, as opposed to just industry, organizational events and meetings.  Our half-hour conversation addressed where and why real estate markets are such an important factor to understand structural challenges to policy implementation.

He also blew my mind when I asked his sense of what percentage of producer applicants will end up meeting the various challenges to their 502 permit applications.  From his perspective, he estimates that between 5 and 15% will make it through the process.  That’s a much lower percentage than I expected.  It does however match up with Becky Smith of the WSLCB’s information from a couple weeks ago, that while 10 producers have made it all the way through, 40 more would be finished but for their own unfinished real estate business.

Local Implementation Update and Trend Report



March 26th 2014

Background:  Washington voters approved Initiative 502 in November 2012 setting up a legal system to tax and regulate marijuana for recreational use.  Cities and counties were given authority to pass additional zoning regulations.  Cities have final authority granting licensing for marijuana businesses, following state approval.

Project:  The Center collected data on the 75 most populous cities in Washington to examine how local governments have handled I-502 implementation legislatively.  Over the last several months the Center has tracked the shifting implementation strategies of those cities.


ZONED:  City council passed legislation zoning areas where marijuana businesses could apply or updated the Municipal Code recognizing recreational marijuana.

MORATORIUM: City council passed legislation putting a hold on accepting marijuana licenses.  These ranged from 6-12 months.

BANNED:  City passes legislation banning marijuana businesses until the drug is approved federally or officials have threatened to ban.

NO ACTION:  Cities took no legislative action, will treat marijuana businesses like any other business or simply expands medical marijuana laws to recreational.  

# of cities %*
Population Impacted **
ZONED 33 44% 2,293,070
MORATORIUM 29 39% 1,094,924
BANNED 5 7% 223,416
NO ACTION 8 11% 244,469
Total 75 3,855,879


From January 1, 2014 to March 25, 2014 seventeen (17) cities have altered their policies related to I-502.  The legislative movements are:

Moratorium to Zone 10
Moratorium to Ban 2
No Action to Zone 2
No Action to Moratorium 2
Zone to Moratorium 1 

Key Findings:

  • More cities that originally passed moratoria have opted to zone rather than ban.
  • Only 2 additional bans have been implemented after the Attorney General’s opinion affirming local bans.
  • Moratoria have dropped in 11 cities.


  City County Est. Population Status
1 Seattle King 634,535 ZONED
2 Spokane Spokane 209,525 ZONED
3 Tacoma Pierce 202,010 ZONED (Interim)
4 Vancouver Clark 165,489 ZONED
5 Bellevue King 126,439 ZONED
6 Kent King 122,999 MORATORIUM
7 Everett Snohomish 104,655 ZONED (interim)
8 Renton King 95,448 MORATORIUM
9 Yakima Yakima 93,101 BANNED
10 Federal Way King 91,933 MORATORIUM
11 Spokane Valley Spokane 90,641 ZONED (Interim)
12 Bellingham Whatcom 82,234 ZONED
13 Kennewick Benton 75,971 MORATORIUM
14 Auburn King/Pierce 73,505 MORATORIUM
15 Pasco Franklin 65,398 MORATORIUM
16 Marysville Snohomish 62,402 MORATORIUM
17 Lakewood Pierce 58,852 BANNED
18 Redmond King 56,561 MORATORIUM
19 Shoreline King 54,352 NO ACTION
20 Richland Benton 51,440 MORATORIUM
21 Kirkland King 50,697 ZONED (interim)
22 Burien King 49,410 ZONED
23 Sammamish King 49,069 MORATORIUM
24 Olympia Thurston 47,698 ZONED (Interim)
25 Lacey Thurston 43,860 NO ACTION
26 Edmonds Snohomish 40,400 MORATORIUM
27 Bremerton Kitsap 39,251 NO ACTION
28 Puyallup Pierce 38,147 MORATORIUM
29 Longview Cowlitz 36,458 ZONED
30 Lynnwood Snohomish 36,275 ZONED (Interim)
31 Bothell King/Sno 34,651 NO ACTION
32 Issaquah King 32,633 MORATORIUM
33 Wenatchee Chelan 32,562 BANNED
34 Mount Vernon Skagit 32,287 ZONED
35 Walla Walla Walla Walla 31,864 ZONED (Interim)
36 University Place Pierce 31,562 MORATORIUM
37 Pullman Whitman 31,359 ZONED
38 Des Moines King 30,449 ZONED
39 Lake Stevens Snohomish 29,104 ZONED
40 SeaTac King 27,667 BANNED
41 Maple Valley King 24,171 ZONED
42 Mercer Island King 23,661 NO ACTION
43 Bainbridge Island Kitsap 23,263 MORATORIUM
44 Oak Harbor Island 22,260 ZONED
45 Kenmore King 21,280 MORATORIUM
46 Moses Lake Grant 21,182 ZONED
47 Mukilteo Snohomish 20,605 ZONED
48 Camas Clark 20,490 MORATORIUM
49 Mountlake Terrace Snohomish 20,198 ZONED
50 Tukwila King 19,611 ZONED
51 Port Angeles Clallam 19,056 NO ACTION
52 Mill Creek Snohomish 18,671 MORATORIUM
53 Ellensburg Kittitas 18,348 ZONED
54 Arlington Snohomish 18,317 ZONED
55 Covington King 18,298 ZONED (Interim)
56 Tumwater Thurston 18,102 ZONED
57 Battle Ground Clark 18,044 NO ACTION
58 Bonney Lake Pierce 17,964 MORATORIUM
59 Monroe Snohomish 17,503 ZONED (Interim)
60 Aberdeen Grays Harbor 16,529 ZONED (Interim)
61 Centralia Lewis 16,505 MORATORIUM
62 Sunnyside Yakima 16,054 MORATORIUM
63 Anacortes Skagit 15,928 MORATORIUM
64 Washougal Clark 14,584 MORATORIUM
65 East Wenatchee Douglas 13,439 MORATORIUM
66 Lake Forest Park King 12,972 MORATORIUM
67 West Richland Benton 12,663 MORATORIUM
68 Lynden Whatcom 12,605 MORATORIUM
69 Ferndale Whatcom 11,998 MORATORIUM
70 Kelso Cowlitz 11,832 ZONED
71 Port Orchard Kitsap 11,680 ZONED (Interim)
72 Snoqualmie King 11,594 NO ACTION
73 Enumclaw King/Pierce 11,327 MORATORIUM
74 Woodinville King 11,234 BANNED
75 Cheney Spokane 11,018 ZONED (interim)

For access to our interactive map and links to legislative documents please visit:


Please email Dr. Dominic Corva, Executive Director, with any questions.


* Percentages are rounded to the nearest whole number.

**Population data is from the estimated 2012 population from the US Census Bureau http://www.census.gov/popest/data/cities/totals/2011/files/SUB-EST2011_ALL.csv