WASHINGTON — Governor Jay Inslee said he was “encouraged” by what he heard from officials with the federal government about Washington’s new pot legalization measure when he met with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Tuesday.
Following the big meeting, Inslee said he will continue to implement the initiative, including drafting rules and standards for production, regulation and taxation of pot. In fact, Inslee wants to start issuing licenses for state-sponsored marijuana as early as this summer.
“I think ( Holder) is going to give us an opportunity to make our case to allow us to express and give effect to the voters’ will,” Inslee said. “And I think that’s a good thing.”
Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson was also in Tuesday’s meeting. He, too, was encouraged by what he heard, but also made it clear he was prepared to fight.
“We want to find a pathway forward working with the federal government,” said Ferguson. “That said, obviously, I made it clear to Attorney General Holder if it comes to it, the Attorney General’s Office in Washington state will be prepared if we need to go to a legal fight.”
One state lawmaker worries that legislators are out of the loop when it comes to implementing the initiative. Rep. Reuven Carlyle (D-Sea), the Chair of the House Finance Committee said it’s important to get all the rules and regulations right the first go around. The House Finance Committee will oversee any new revenue that pot sales bring in.
“This has historic, international implications and if we get this wrong, we’ll regret it,” Carlyle (D-Sea) said. “We are going to look very openly and very aggressively about what it takes to regulate marijuana, and we are asking for that partnership with the liquor control board and not for them to just go off in one direction by themselves. We have to do this together.”
The Liquor Control Board, which is required to come up with the rules and regulations for licensing retail pot shops and grow operations, on Tuesday night held the first of at least six forums across the state to solicit public feedback about what some of the new marijuana rules. Board Chairwoman Sharon Foster told reporters what directions she had received from the governor after his meeting with Holder in Washington, D.C.
And the first public speaker at the board’s forum in Olympia, Larry Ward, noted that banks will not set up accounts for even medicinal marijuana shop owners because they fear they might be charged with federal money laundering for drugs.
Watch the videos below: Chairwoman Sharon Foster is in the first one, and Larry Ward is the speaker in the second one.