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State board adopts rules for new marijuana industry

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SEATTLE — It’s official.

The state of Washington has formally adopted new rules for recreational marijuana — how and where it can be grown, sold and distributed. The state Liquor Control Board predicts a 30-day licensing window for growers and sellers to open on Nov. 18.

Security is a big concern and rightfully so.

Pot–Weho

Courtesy LA Times

Earth Alternative Medicine, a medical marijuana collective in Lacey, just celebrated its grand opening — and it was closed for business Wednesday after an armed robbery Tuesday night.

Police say three armed men busted in, locked employees in a bathroom, detained three customers. They stole marijuana and other items and, as they ran from the store, one of the suspects opened fire. Fortunately, no one was hurt.

“That’s completely ridiculous.  This is supposed to be a really legitimate business here,” medical marijuana patient Dan Doscher said.

Doscher is a patient who just found out about the robbery.

For now he’ll have to get his medicine somewhere else.

“Usually they have pretty good security but, I mean, if somebody just barges in and they have a gun, then what are you really going to do?” Doscher asked.

The robbery comes just as the state formally adopted rules for how and where recreational marijuana can be grown, sold, distributed and consumed once stores open next year.

“What the Liquor Control Board did in this last iteration of the rules is really fill out the details,” I-502 author Alison Holcomb said.

*There’s a 3 license limit per applicant to prevent pot monopolies

*Background checks are required

*Seed-to-sale tracking for all product

*Child resistant packaging

*Warning labels

*No shop can be located within 1,000 feet of a school, playground or park.

Then there’s the issue of security.

“The rules are very specific about video cameras that have to monitor the premises for 24 hours, seven days a week,” Holcomb said.

“The stores have to be locked down with security measures, with safes to contain cash and marijuana.  So, we’re talking about very secure facilities,” Holcomb said.

“With any business you run risk of people coming in and robbing you,” Natural 7 Collective co-owner Angelisa Stansberry said.

Stansberry runs the Natural 7 collective in Lacey.

They’ve taken numerous steps to minimize the risk and the danger to employees and customers.

She calls the efforts just part of doing business.

“Panic buttons, security on duty, having a solid relationship with our local police department, also our cameras are set up so we know exactly who is coming in and out.  We have a secure entry way so no one is getting through our shop at all,” Stansberry said.

The rules have been subject to great debate, research, and the public was heard at town hall meetings.

Now that the rules are official, already municipalities around the country and around the world are looking at how Colorado and Washington state do things so they can develop their own rules based on what works here.

We can also expect a hefty tax once the first recreational marijuana sales begin in the middle of next year.

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