Pasadena, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 09/28/2015 -- Even as states are becoming more and more progressive and legalizing weed entirely, some medical and recreational cannabis users are facing legal repercussions due to certain provisions hidden in the depths of marijuana tax bills.
Colorado recently announced that legalizing the use of recreational marijuana has led to a massive increase in tax revenue to the tune of 70 million dollars. It is more than likely that Washington State will continue in Colorado's footsteps in being able to boast their own budget surplus. While Washington's legalization of medical cannabis has been largely positive, the bill does present some complications for some of its citizens.
Three Washington teens are facing up to five years in prison for possession of marijuana because of a perplexing provision buried in the newly-passed marijuana tax bill. The provision, while legalizing cannabis for recreational use by people over the age of 21, increases the penalty for minors found in of possession of marijuana from a misdemeanor to a class C felony.
When questioned about this provision, Gov. Jay Inslee described it as, "an unintended consequence" of the legislation. This unintended consequence could prove to have lasting and negative effects on the lives of many Washington minors.
The lesser-known provision, SB 502, which was aimed at consolidating taxes and regulations between the states medical and recreational marijuana industries, has increased the penalty for minor possession of cannabis; this carries a minimum sentence of 90 days and a maximum of five years in jail.
Leading Industry educator, George Boyadjian of 420 College, says, "We see that even as we move toward total legalization it is as important as ever to have a thorough understanding of the laws affecting the cannabis industry and the industry as a whole."
A spokesperson for the Washington governor said, "I can only tell you that this was not the intention that the governor had when working with legislators on this bill. There are other ways to discourage minors without charging them with felonies."
Prosecutor Ben Nichols says that if lawmakers were to repeal the provision the three teens facing charges could possibly have their convictions vacated by the court.
Boyadjian adds, "There's a huge disconnect between legalizing marijuana for recreational use and then turning around and charging minors with felonies for engaging in the same behaviors that will become absolutely legal within a few mere years. There are much more effective ways to educate our youth about responsible cannabis consumption. However, until all of the kinks are worked out of these laws we intend to educate cannabis business owners and consumers about their rights and inform them of best practices taking the most recent laws into consideration."
The next 420 College seminar will be held in Pasadena from October 17th through the 18th.