SEATTLE — The state Liquor Control Board voted Wednesday to delay implementation of legal marijuana for two months. The reaction was positive from nearly everyone with a stake in the upcoming pot market, even if it pushes back the date that new stores will open until sometime in 2014.
“It’s a good thing they are delaying at this point,” said Alison Holcomb, leader of last year’s Initiative 502, the marijuana legalization measure. “There are a few things that they hadn’t addressed in the proposed rules, and I’m glad they are taking the time to take a look at those.”
Holcomb said that the draft rules are too vague and that the Liquor Control Board still needs to decide on some major issues before stores can start opening, especially since a study shows that pot use in Washington is much higher than was first assumed.
“If it turns out, as it has, that the amount of marijuana that we are using is double, that means we need more producers and more retail outlets to make sure we have enough supply” said Holcomb.
The current rules, she says, are also silent on size.
“A retail outlet needs to know, are you going to keep super small like a convenience store? Am I going to be the size of a grocery store? Am I going to be the size of Costco? All of these questions need to be answered for people to be able to fill out their applications for a license.”
Down at the Hempfest setup Wednesday, there was similar praise for the Liquor Control Board’s pause.
“I would rather have it done right than done quickly,” said John Davis, board chairman of this weekend’s event.
Davis is especially looking for clarity on just how far retail shops can be from sensitive areas such as schools and libraries. The initiative states 1,000 feet, but even that is open to interpretation.
“They need to know, 1,000 foot from what? And how is that 1,000 foot calculated? Is it property line to property line?” asked Davis.
Holcomb noted that there are lots of “eyeballs” on Washington as the state moves toward legalized pot. She believe that clearer rules will help show the rest of the country – and even world – that pot legalization can work.
“It’s incredibly important that the Liquor Control Board gets this right. Because a huge mistake means other people are people are probably not going to be willing to follow,” she said.
The new rules are now expected to be adopted in November, instead of September, which means stores licenses won’t be issued until sometime next year