What’s next for weed?; State’s marijuana industry takes stock two years after legalization

More than two years since legal recreational marijuana sales started, Washington pot businesses have seen more than $1.48 billion in total sales, raising more than $350 million in excise taxes, according to the state.

But while sales have almost only increased, questions about the future of the market linger.

Beyond the industry-unique issues of regulation and the fact that marijuana is still illegal federally, it’s not yet clear when the market, which saw volatile prices and supply issues during its early days, will start to balance out in terms of supply and demand.

“We’re two years into a very fledgling industry, so to some extent, the sort of unpredictable nature of this industry is to be expected,” Washington CannaBusiness Association Executive Director Vicki Christophersen said.

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Clown calls test patience of Clark County law enforcement

Clark County sheriff’s deputies have been responding to a handful of weird clown sightings each of the past few nights, a clearly exasperated sheriff’s Sgt. Brent Waddell said Thursday night.

On one call Wednesday night, deputies went to the Felida area and found a 17-year-old boy, in some clown regalia, and his buddy messing around in traffic, Waddell said.

“It’s not illegal to be a clown, but it is illegal to be running in the roadway,” Waddell said.

The boys were not arrested, but were brought to their parents, “who provided the appropriate parental response,” he said.

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Wildfire safety fuels hot debate; as more people move into wildland-urban interface, firefighting challenges increase

When a wildfire is rolling toward a house built with a cedar shake roof, surrounded by decorative juniper up to the windowsills, and the only access road is overgrown and narrow, firefighters will likely skip it.

“People think that we’re going to save their house,” said Paul Tester, Southwest Washington’s fire training coordinator at the state Department of Natural Resources. “We’re there to protect the firefighter and the public, that’s our first priority.

“We can rebuild a home, the trees will grow back. I can’t rebuild you.”

As more people build homes in spots where civilization mingles with the wild, firefighters may have to make those calls more often. In Southwest Washington’s now-regrown Yacolt Burn area, where one of the state’s largest wildfires tore through the region more than 100 years ago, people have built an estimated 800 homes, according to local assessors’ offices.

Researchers with the University of Wisconsin and U.S. Forest Service have found that about a third of all homes in the continental United States sit in what’s called the wildland-urban interface — a higher-risk fire area where homes and wild lands mix. Those homes housed an estimated 99 million people nationwide, the researchers said.

The wildland-urban interface area constitutes about 10 percent of the Lower 48. The number of homes in the risk area increased by about 8.5 million, or 24 percent, from 1990 to 2010. Since then, that number has likely increased, according to researchers and fire managers.

Wildfires destroyed almost 5,000 structures nationally in 2015, including more than 2,600 homes, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

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Prayers for Orlando in Washougal; St. Anne’s Episcopal Church mourned shooting victims in a vigil

WASHOUGAL — The Rev. Eliacin Rosario-Cruz and Holly Puckett stood before the pews and read through the list of names. For each one, a note sounded.

Forty-nine notes for the 49 people murdered Saturday night at an Orlando nightclub. Rosario-Cruz and Puckett gave their ages, too; most of those killed were in their 20s or 30s.

Before the Wednesday evening service at St. Anne’s Episcopal Church, the Rev. Jessie Smith said she had been overwhelmed with emotion after what happened.

“The only thing I think I really know how to do right now is to pray. So I thought others might want to join me,” she said. “I know this community — it’s important for us to gather in times like this.”

About 30 people filed into the church for the vigil. They prayed and sang along with John Lennon’s “Imagine” and the Beatles’ “Let It Be.”

There’s little anyone can say or do to address the grief right now, Smith said at the start of the service, but to pray and be together in solidarity is a start.

“I welcome your prayers as a stand against violence as an expression of religion,” she said. “We’re here because we know with every fiber of our being that what has happened is wrong, that there’s something very broken, that there’s evil at work in the world, and that grief and rage that wells up within us — that’s the goodness speaking out.”

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Clark County deputies armed for drug overdose, train to use opioid antidote naloxone

The sheriff’s deputies passed around a little vial and spray nozzle.

One blast of naloxone from the vial, per nostril, can revive someone left unconscious by an opioid overdose, saving their life.

“You giving them Narcan and waking them up might be the change that they need,” Deputy Jon Shields said, using a brand name for the opioid overdose antidote naloxone.

Shields led a recent training for deputies on administering the drug. They are among first with the Clark County Sheriff’s Office to start carrying intranasal naloxone while on patrol.

“You’ve seen it. They steal from their family, they steal from their friends, and until they get to that point, they’re not going to change,” he said. “We’re giving them a chance to change their life.”

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Vigil held in Battle Ground for 3-year-old killed this week; about 250 people attend to pay respects, show their support for family

BATTLE GROUND — Roughly 250 people packed a Battle Ground neighborhood street Friday evening to pay their respects to Jose Castillo-Cisneros, an act the boy’s grandfather called a profound act of kindness.

Jose Castillo-Cisneros, nicknamed Pepe, was killed Monday night at his Battle Ground home.

Friends, family, neighbors and other well-wishers bearing candles gathered around the home — where friends and strangers had been adding flowers, stuffed animals and candles to an impromptu memorial — to remember Pepe and support the family.

The family has been moved by the outpouring of support, said Fernando Cisneros-Garcia, the boy’s maternal grandfather.

“They know the community is trying to help, the community is trying to do something for Pepe, for Pepe’s memory,” he said.

God, he said, has used the tragedy to open up peoples’ hearts to each other.

“The whole community is hurting. … The whole community is feeling the pain,” he said, apologizing for his English.

People are taking a break from their lives to reflect, he said, “to share with us, our pain. It’s just, I have no words.”

Court records say Pepe’s mother’s boyfriend, Ricardo Gutierrez, beat and stabbed the boy to death Monday evening. Gutierrez, 39, became enraged when the boy started crying over a movie he didn’t want to watch with his sister, court records said.

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Inmate switches identities, escapes from Clark County jail; Michael Diontae Johnson was awaiting trial for harassment, assault, other crimes

Michael Diontae Johnson

A Clark County Jail inmate escaped from custody Thursday by swapping identities with another inmate scheduled to be released that day, according to the Clark County Sheriff’s Office.

Michael Diontae Johnson, 30, had been transferred to Clark County from a prison in Arizona, where he’d been serving a 24-year sentence for kidnapping and aggravated assault, in order to stand trial on multiple charges in a local domestic violence case, according to the sheriff’s office and the Arizona Department of Corrections.

Johnson was released about 8:30 a.m. The jail’s mistake came to light a few hours later during a scheduled meal and head count, the sheriff’s office said.

Undersheriff Mike Cooke said in a news release he couldn’t comment on how Johnson switched identities.

“I can say, however, that this escape required prior planning and the active cooperation of the second inmate,” Cooke said.

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