SEATTLE — The Washington State Liquor Control Board agreed to rules Wednesday that will regulate the legal pot industry in the state.
“We are making history,” WSLCB Chairwoman Sharon Foster said. “This hasn’t been done in this way anyplace in the world.”
King County is slated to get 61 pot shops, with 21 in Seattle, four in Bellevue and many others across the county. Snohomish County, Pierce County and Thurston County are other areas expected to get the most retail outlets.
Under the rules, the stores will only be able to sell pot or pot-infused products, and can’t be attached to another retail outlet. Owners will only be able to corner 33 percent of the local market, or no more than three stores within the same area.
There will also be more options for marijuana business locations, because the board has eased buffer-zone rules around schools, parks, and other places where children gather. The distance must still be 1,000 feet away, but now it won’t have to be counted as in a direct line. The buffer is now based on commonly traveled paths.
And don’t expect a “Walmart” of weed.
Former Microsoft executive Jamen Shively declared, “We are big marijuana,” when he announced plans to open dozens of retail pot shops. But it now looks like that’s not going to happen.
“The board doesn’t want one particular entity or company cornering the market,” said Rick Garza, director of the Liquor Control Board, which changed the rules so that a single individual or corporation can only be issued up to three licenses. According to John Davis, Shively’s business partner, that’s likely to end up in court.
“The Liquor Control Board is overstepping its authority,” Davis said. “Limiting licenses is not mentioned in 502.”
The board will likely hear more opinions on that as it holds more public hearings on the new, revised rules in October. Foster said it’s been a long, strange trip so far.
“I have grandchildren who are not sure what it means to have a grandma as ‘queen of the weed,’ but we’re all moving on,” she joked.
The board also released public safety elements of the regulations.
Here are some of the rules proposed by the board in regard to public safety:
Public safety is the top priority of the Washington State Liquor Control Board.
- All grows must meet strictly controlled on-site security requirements;
- Strict surveillance and transportation requirements;
- Robust traceability software system that will track inventory from start to sale;
- Criminal background checks on all license applicants;
- Tough penalty guidelines for public safety violations including loss of license;
- Restricting certain advertising that may be targeted at children.
An updated timeline of implementation was also released:
Dec. 6, 2012 Effective date of new law
Sept. 4, 2013 File Supplemental CR 102 with revised proposed rules
Oct. 9, 2013 Public hearing(s) on proposed rules (time and location TBD)
Oct. 16, 2013 Board adopts or rejects proposed rules (CR 103)
Nov. 16, 2013 Rules become effective
Nov. 18, 2013 Begin accepting applications for all three licenses (30-day window)
Dec. 1, 2013 Deadline for rules to be complete (as mandated by law)
Dec. 18, 2013 30-day window closes for producer, processor and retailer license applications
To see a complete list of expected retail locations by general area, click here.