OLYMPIA — The state Liquor Control Board on Wednesday approved proposed rules for the production, processing and retailing of recreational marijuana.
“Our goal is achieved,” said board chairwoman Sharon Foster, who was optimistic about the state’s upcoming experiment with legal pot. “We are going to be successful.”
The board released an initial draft last month, and the proposed rules were issued Wednesday. Under the board’s timeline, public hearings will be held on the proposed rules from Aug. 6-8, with adoption on Aug. 14. The rules will become effective Sept. 16.
In mid-September, the state beings to start accepting applications for licenses.
Some of the notable changes to earlier versions include:
- Childproof packaging for all products, including smokable pot and any edible versions;
- Store hours will be 8 a.m. until midnight;
- No advertising within 1,000 feet of schools, parks and libraries;
- Clear financial penalties for violations.
The board decided Wednesday not to approve an official pot logo for product labels, but members definitely want one soon before sales start; they just haven’t yet agreed on what that design should be. Foster wants it to be very identifiable.
“If a parent walks into a child’s room and sees a wrapper, or goes into that teenager’s car and sees a wrapper, they will know what it was,” she said.
The Liquor Control Board felt confident about their proposed rules. But they did caution that there’s no way to telling just how much of the current illegal marijuana market they are going to replace.
“We will have a well-regulated, successful system,” said board member Chris Marr. “It just may not capture a lot of the marijuana being sold out there for reasons totally beyond our control.”
Because many of the stakeholders in this new green economy gave input before Wednesday’s rules release, many seemed happy with the result. But, interestingly enough, the state’s official marijuana consultant wasn’t.
Mark Kleiman, hired earlier this year as a consultant, parted ways Wednesday with board members on a couple of big issues. Most importantly, Kleiman says the board members should have allowed for home delivery, especially since there will be some cities that are likely to ban retail outlets altogether.
“The rule that says you can only sell in a store is a problem,” said Kleiman. “That’s going to mean that there a some areas that simply do not have retail availability, and I’m sure the illicit market will be happy to fill that gap.”
It’s still going to take several months for the whole system to get up and running. The state expects the first pot stores to open early next year.
To find out more details and more on the marijuana legalization process, got to the Liquor Control Board’s specific page here: http://liq.wa.gov/marijuana/I-502