On this special one-hour edition of “Legislative Year in Review,” we recap the highlights from the 2014 session — from opening day to Sine Die. The show includes debate over issues such as the Dream Act, minimum wage, gun control, abortion insurance bill, death penalty, mental health, teacher evaluations, taxing e-cigarettes and the supplemental budget. Plus, a quick wrap-up of several of the bills that passed this year. Watch the show below:
Archive for Marijuana
Washington’s legislative leaders will adjourn the 2014 session Thursday, unless a special session extends the deadline. But before they go back to their districts TVW will air back-to-back live interviews with more than 20 lawmakers starting at 8 a.m. Thursday.
Anita Kissée, host of The Impact, will sit down with Gov. Jay Inslee, House Democratic Majority Leader Rep. Pat Sullivan and House Republican leader Rep. Dan Kristiansen.
Other guests include Sen. Linda Evans Parlette, R-Wenatchee, Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Medina, Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, D-Burien, and Sen. Steve Litzow, R-Mercer Island. The lawmakers will talk about a range of issues from education to the capital budget to the environment.
Plus, Austin Jenkins, host of TVW’s “Inside Olympia” and reporter for the Public Radio Northwest News Network, and Brian Rosenthal, a state government reporter for The Seattle Times, will stop by to talk about some highlights from the past 60 days and what to expect when the election process begins.
Coverage will be here on the blog, and you can watch live on TVW or via webcast.
The Senate passed rules on medical marijuana over the weekend, and the bill is headed to the House.
Medical marijuana has been legal but largely unregulated since voters approved it in 1998. Medical marijuana has come under scrutiny by the federal government as the state prepares for legal recreational marijuana to go on sale in licensed stores, expected to start later this year.
Senators Ann Rivers, R-La Center, and Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, both sponsored bills this year that would combine the largely unregulated medical marijuana system with the more regulated recreational marijuana system, under the Liquor Control Board.
“This bill is the very best attempt to protect our patients and their rights and their access to their product while making sure that we meet the Initiative 502 guidelines that we voted on as an electorate,” Rivers said.
The Liquor Control Board also would be renamed the Liquor and Cannabis Board under the bill.
The Senate passed Rivers’ bill, SB 5887, on Saturday, with a number of amendments from Kohl-Welles, on a vote of 34-15.
The rules would include:
- Medical marijuana would be exempt from sales and use tax, but still subject to a 25 percent excise tax.
- Patients could have three ounces of marijuana, which is more than the one ounce allowed under recreational rules.
- Cooperative grows could include up to four participants.
- Individuals could grow up to six marijuana plants, or up to 15 if prescribed by a doctor.
- Medical products could be purchased from retail marijuana stores with a special endorsement.
- Starts a patient and provider registry and restricts access to the registry.
Kohl-Welles described the rules as a start. Kohl-Welles’ SB 6542, which passed 40-8 on Saturday, would establish a committee that explores the cannabis industry, including a subcommittee on medical marijuana.
“With the regulated, licensed non-medical market opening this year, we are in uncharted territory with regard to legislating on this issue. I voted in favor of this bill because we need regulations regarding medical marijuana. But for the sake of patients, there is still work that needs to be done,” Kohl-Welles said in a prepared statement.
Rivers also said she expects the laws will be adjusted in coming years.
“The use of medical marijuana became legal in 1998, so I realize this bill would create a big change for people who are used to it being unregulated. But by not taking action to standardize quality and access, we are endangering patients who truly need a safe, legal, and consistent source of medical marijuana,” Rivers said in a prepared statement.
Sen. Brian Dansel, R-Republic, objected to the bill, saying the bill was not what voters intended when they passed Initiative 502. Dansel also questioned whether local jurisdictions would have enough funding to deal with the impacts of the proposed regulations on the health and judicial system.
Sen. Mark Mullet, D-Issaquah, shared the latter concern, and voted against the bill.
“I was under the impression we were going to have the revenue share with cities and counties who are stuck with the enforcement of this issue,” he said.
When Sean Green of Spokane became Washington’s first licensee to produce and process recreational marijuana, he likened it to the end of an era.
“Cannabis prohibition is over,” he said.
Green’s license were issued at a Washington State Liquor Control Board meeting on Wednesday to a flurry of publicity.
“We are living the dream today here right now,” he said.
Green will operate a 21,000-square-foot growing operation in Spokane under the business name Kouchlock Productions. (Couch lock is slang for too stoned to move.) He said he’s invested $6 million in the growing and processing operation.
Green has operated a medical cannabis dispensary since it was legalized in Washington in 2011, and has dispensaries in Shoreline and Spokane.
Green said there still were obstacles for entrepreneurs, citing the ongoing difficulty in finding a bank willing to work with marijuana businesses.
While Green was the first licensee, the Washington State Liquor Control Board is going through 2,800 applications for producing and processing, said Becky Smith, Liquor Control Board Marijuana Manager.
Several more producer and processor licenses are in the final stages and will be issued this week, according to the Washington State Liquor Control Board.
Retail licenses will be issued after a lottery later this spring, and the state is still set for the first pot stores to open this summer, according to Liquor Control Board agency director Rick Garza.
Board member Chris Marr said he expects the retail stores to roll out, rather than all be ready to open on the first day. The state will issue 338 retail licenses.
The Seattle Times raised questions about Green after uncovering labor complaints made by Green’s employees.
Marr told reporters that the board’s staff felt that Green satisfied all the requirements and criteria for receiving a producer and grower’s license.
Some teenagers appear to be engaging in riskier behaviors after voters passed Initiatives 1183 and 502, which made liquor and marijuana more accessible, according to teen health and addiction specialists who spoke before a House committee earlier this week.
“In many ways, we’re the experiment. We, with Colorado in terms of commercial legal recreational marijuana, and in terms in of 1183, we are one of the top most deregulated state in terms of spirit sales in the country,” said Derek Franklin of the Washington Association of Substance Abuse and Violence Prevention.
“We’re trying to figure out how best to prevent substance abuse in kids in communities,” he said.
Voters passed Initiative 1183 three years ago, privatizing hard alcohol sales in Washington and making liquor available in grocery stores. Initiative 502 legalized recreational marijuana for people 21 and over.
Lawmakers invited specialists to speak on the changes they’ve observed since the passage of those two initiatives during a work session of the House Early Learning and Human Services Committee.
Researcher Julia Dilley told the panel that the number of Washington teenagers who are drinking alcohol has decreased, following national trends. But the kids who drink heavily are doing so more often. She also said teenagers’ attitudes in the state have been increasingly accepting of both marijuana and alcohol use.
Michael Langer with the Department of Social and Health Services said alcohol is the substance used most often by youth, with marijuana in second place. (more…)
State officials estimated that legalized recreational marijuana could bring in $51 million to the state’s general fund in the 2015-17 biennium.
It’s the first time that the state has included marijuana in its revenue projections, since Initiative 502 passed in 2012, which legalized recreational marijuana, according to the Office of Financial Management.
The Economic and Revenue Forecast Council discussed the estimate, and projections for the next six years at meetings broadcast on TVW Wednesday.
The forecast for the remainder of the 2013-15 biennium showed general fund revenue coming in $30 million higher than in the November forecast, according to the Office of Financial Management. The general fund revenue over this biennium is expected to be $33 billion.
The state’s general fund collections in the following biennium, 2015-17, are projected to be $35.7 billion, an increase of $82 million over the November projection and including the $51 million expected in marijuana taxes.
The rest of that increased forecast was due to slowly growing economy, said Steve Lerch, chief economist of the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council.
Lerch told lawmakers Wednesday that council staff has been reluctant before this forecast to include marijuana tax revenues in general fund projections because of uncertainties about the retail stores, including when the the stores would launch and the potential for marijuana businesses to have problems with banks.
The projection includes an assumption that marijuana retail stores would not start until June 2015, Lerch said. Initiative 502 earmarks other revenue from marijuana, such as licensing revenue, to a dedicated marijuana fund, which pays for social and health services and research, he said.
According to OFM, the next revenue forecast is scheduled for release June 18.
The House approved a bill Monday legalizing hemp in Washington state, paving the way for farmers to grow hemp for products such as clothing, jewelry, lip balm and soaps.
Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley, said the bill will boost the state’s farming industry and bring jobs to the state.
“Washington state used to be one of the largest exporters of hemp in the entire world,” Shea said. “This bill will allow us to be that once again.”
It directs the state Department of Agriculture to issue licenses for growing hemp that cost $10 per acre of land. Industrial hemp must contain a THC concentration of 1 percent or less.
Another bill would allow farmers to feed hemp seeds to their commercial animals if it is deemed safe by the Department of Agriculture.
“There’s been found to be some pretty good dietary nutrients inside of hemp seed,” said Rep. Vincent Buys, R-Lynden, who urged lawmakers to support the bill. “A vote for this is a vote for happy chickens, happy cows, happy pigs.”
Both bills passed unanimously, and now head to the Senate for its consideration.
On Thursday’s edition of “Legislative Review,” we have details on two bills that would legalize hemp farming in Washington state. Supporters say the state is missing out on a lucrative hemp industry that produces everything from clothing to fuel.
We also recap debate in a House committee over a bill that discourages local governments from banning I-502 marijuana businesses. The bill was introduced in response to a Pierce County ban on pot businesses within its unincorporated areas. Plus, we have details on a recycling program for lightbulbs containing mercury.
Watch the show below:
Washington became a marijuana-friendly state when voters approved Initiative 502 legalizing marijuana. Now, the legislature is talking about making hemp farming legal as well.
Two bills were discussed Thursday at the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee that seek to create a licensing system for hemp growers governed by the Dept. of Agriculture.
While Senate Bill 6214 and Senate Bill 5964 are very similar, the first bill requires Washington State University to conduct a study of the net worth of industrial hemp production before licensing the crop. The cost of the study is estimated to be about $850,000.
Supporters of the hemp bill said that the crop is beneficial from an environmental and financial standpoint. The prime sponsor of Senate Bill 6214, Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, said that it uses minimal pesticides and helps with erosion control.
She added that it is expected to cause an “explosive” boost in our state’s economy, citing that the U.S. imported $11.5 million worth of hemp products in 2011.
Committee members raised concerns that marijuana could be concealed in hemp fields.
However, testifiers in favor of hemp legalization assured that the plants do not only look different – marijuana is thick and bushy and hemp is tall and thin – but cross pollination would also significantly reduce the potency of the plant.
Joy Beckerman Maher, a longtime industrial hemp consultant, who has been pushing for legalization for decades addressed the myth that hemp can give someone a “high.”
“The only feeling you would get is an awful headache,” said Maher.
Hemp is used to make everything from clothing and beauty products to seed oil and ice cream. The U.S. Declaration of Independence was even written on hemp paper.
On a national scale, the Farm Bill recently allowed hemp cultivation projects to be launched for research and state agriculture department in 10 states that have approved hemp production. These include California, Colorado, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia.
No action was taken at the hearing. The Impact will air a special segment about the issue Wednesday.
In addition, legislators heard public testimony about Gov. Jay Inslee‘s proposed supplemental capital budget, which pays for the construction of public buildings and other projects. We also have details from a hearing the House Labor committee on four wage bills, which supporters say will crack down on wage fraud.
Watch the show below:
Update: Jan. 17, 2014, 1 p.m.
Cities and counties that ban marijuana sales could revive illegal trade, warned the Washington State Liquor Control Board, which issued a statement Friday in response to Attorney General Bob Ferguson‘s opinion on whether Initiative 502 preempts local laws.
Ferguson’s opinion concluded that Washington cities and counties are allowed to ban and regulate marijuana businesses, despite the voter initiative that legalized recreational marijuana throughout the state.
“The legal opinion will be a disappointment to the majority of Washington’s voters who approved Initiative 502,” Sharon Foster, chair of the Washington State Liquor Control Board, wrote in a statement.
“We’re not yet sure how this opinion will change the implementation of the initiative. If some local governments impose bans it will impact public safety by allowing the current illicit market to continue. It will also reduce the state’s expectations for revenue generated from the legal system we are putting in place,” Foster said.
Original post published Jan. 17, 2014, 8:52 a.m.
Cities and counties may ban marijuana businesses, despite a voter initiative that legalized marijuana in Washington state, according to Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson.
According to Ferguson, Initiative 502 decriminalizes marijuana and creates a regulation system for sales and production. But it doesn’t preempt any local ordinances that outlaw or regulate marijuana retail locations.
He issued the opinion Thursday in response to a request by the Washington State Liquor Control Board.
According to Ferguson’s opinion:
“Under Washington law, there is a strong presumption against finding that state law preempts local ordinances. Although Initiative 502 establishes a licensing and regulatory system for marijuana producers, processors, and retailers in Washington State, it includes no clear indication that it was intended to preempt local authority to regulate such businesses. We therefore conclude that I-502 left in place the normal powers of local governments to regulate within their jurisdictions.”
Medical marijuana advocate Kirk Ludden says patients who use medical marijuana products have fallen through the cracks as the state creates new laws for recreational pot.
So, Ludden, of Seattle, has filed several voter initiatives addressing medical marijuana laws this week, which address some of concerns over the recommendations made by the Washington State Liquor Control Board, the Department of Health and the Department of Revenue, which held hearings on the topic last year.
Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, as in past years, has plans to introduce protections for patients to state’s medical marijuana law in this year’s legislative session, she told Business Insider. And Rep. Eileen Cody, D-Seattle, already has introduced HB 2149, which will address medical marijuana laws and will be heard at the House Health Care and Wellness Committee at 8 a.m. Wednesday.
But, Ludden is tired by what he sees as past political interference that have curtailed attempts to restore the intentions of Initiative 692, the 1998 medical marijuana initiative. He said that he hopes the voters will have a chance to weigh in again on medical marijuana.
“This initiative would be the way we get our law back,” he said.
While recreational marijuana was decriminalized following the passage of Initiative 502 in 2012, marijuana has been available to patients with a doctor’s prescription after the passage of I-692.
While I-502 doesn’t change any medical marijuana laws directly, legislators asked the Washington State Liquor Control Board, the Department of Health and the Department of Revenue, to write new recommendations for medical marijuana.
WSLCB officials released recommendations in December, including the creation a medical marijuana registry for patients and providers, limiting the number of plants in a patient’s possession to six and subjecting medical marijuana to the same state tax as recreational marijuana.
Ludden says the recommendations drawn up by the Washington State Liquor Control Board doesn’t preserve the intent of the original medical marijuana initiative, and could be harmful for patients.
“We aren’t sex offenders,” he said. “There’s no reason for a patient to put his name on a list.”
Ludden added that a 25 percent state excise tax applied to marijuana could make the herb too expensive for patients, who have to pay out of pocket to buy it.
Ludden has filed several initiatives to the voters this week, which include protections such as establishing a separate state board for medical marijuana, exempting medical marijuana from the excise tax and allowing patients to grow up to 15 plants. You can see the initiatives as filed on the Secretary of State’s website.
Supporters of the initiatives, which have not yet been assigned numbers, will have to collect at least 246,372 signatures of registered voters and turn them in to the Washington Secretary of State’s Office by July 3 in order to make the November ballot.
You can watch a 2013 hearing on medical marijuana recommendations in TVW’s archives.
At 70, retired state worker James Brown is embarking on a new career: Marijuana grower and processor.
The Olympia resident was one of a handful of people who submitted paperwork in person at the Dept. of Revenue on Monday morning, the first day that entrepreneurs could apply for a marijuana business license.
“It’s a new adventure,” said Brown, who already has financing and a construction plan in place for his pot-growing operation in Thurston County.
“We’re ready to start putting out product,” he said.
Representatives from the Liquor Control Board, Dept. of Revenue and Secretary of State’s office were on hand to answer questions people had about the application process.
They said most people appeared to be applying online — more than 50 applications were submitted online in the first hour alone.
Monday was the first day of a 30-day window to apply to become a marijuana producer, processor or retailer. There’s no limit on the number of producers or processors, but the state has capped the number of marijuana retail stores at 334.
The Liquor Control Board will begin reviewing the applications later this week. An application could be denied if the applicant has a criminal history, questionable financing or an objection from the local government.
Marijuana retail stores are expected to open in June as part of Initiative 502, which legalized pot in Washington state.
Going into the marijuana business isn’t just about money for Brown. He says it will provide supplemental income to his retirement and social security benefits. But mostly, it “gives me something to do.”
Brown, who is retired from the Dept. of Labor and Industries, said he saw the benefits of marijuana after members of his family suffered injuries in three separate car crashes.
For more about the marijuana application process, tune in to “The Impact” on TVW on Wednesday at 7 & 10 p.m. to meet a Seattle resident applying for a license and see his operation site.
Medical marijuana patients in Washington say they should be allowed to continue growing pot at home or in collective gardens, arguing that they have special needs that won’t be met by the state’s legal market.
More than 100 patients packed a hearing Wednesday evening to testify on a set of recommendations proposed by three state agencies on how to regulate the medical marijuana industry. The meeting was raucous at times, with speakers frequently interrupted by cheers or jeers.
The Liquor Control Board, Department of Revenue and Department of Health released a draft proposal in October of their recommendations, which would effectively eliminate the medical marijuana dispensaries that are common throughout the Puget Sound.
The state agencies have called for eliminating home grows, reducing the amount of pot that a patient can possess to three ounces (the current limit is 24 ounces) and creating a mandatory state-run patient registry.
“These recommendations are awful and unacceptable,” said Philip Dawdy of the Washington Cannabis Association at Wednesday’s hearing.
Dawdy and others argue that the legal I-502 market will not be able to handle the needs of medical marijuana patients, who prefer products with high cannabidiol (CBD) levels — which provides relief from chronic pain — but low in THC, the psychoactive component.
Home grows and collective gardens are the source of “innovation” in the medical marijuana industry, Dawdy said.
The Liquor Control Board has received more than 850 written comments about medical marijuana during the public comment period that ended this week. An additional 122 people signed up to testify at Wednesday’s hearing.
The agency said the No. 1 concern it received was about the elimination of home grows. Patients also said the three ounce limit was too small, and asked for medical marijuana dispensaries to remain open.
The Liquor Control Board will adopt revised recommendations in December. A final draft will be forwarded in January to the state Legislature, which is expected to take action on the issue next session.
Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, is drafting legislation to regulate the medical marijuana industry. A legislative aide spoke on her behalf at Wednesday’s meeting, saying that Kohl-Welles wants to allow home grows and collective gardens.
Kohl-Welles supports the three ounce limit, but prefers a voluntary patient registry instead of a mandatory one.
TVW taped Wednesday’s public hearing — watch it here.
State agencies are recommending a new, tightly regulated medical marijuana industry in Washington that would require patients to register with the state, eliminate home grows and reduce the amount of pot they can possess.
The Liquor Control Board, Department of Revenue and Department of Health released a draft proposal on Monday of their recommendations. The public has until Nov. 8 to comment on the proposal, and it will be submitted to the Legislature in January.
Among the highlights:
- The state Dept. of Health will create a mandatory patient and provider registry. Registration expires annually, and patients must undergo a new exam before renewing their prescription.
- Patients will be exempt from paying state and local taxes if they’re listed on the registry.
- Children younger than 17 can qualify as a medical marijuana patient if they have parental consent.
- Doctors or other health professionals that prescribe marijuana must have a permanent office. Their practice cannot consist primarily of authorizing marijuana.
- The proposal reduces the amount of marijuana a patient can possess to three ounces (the current limit is 24 ounces).
- Eliminates home grows.
Read the full proposal here.
Initiative 502 requires testing of marijuana before its sold to the public.
But the labs that will be testing Washington’s weed don’t yet know what standards they’ll be required to follow — an issue that Washington’s pot officials say they are working on.
“We’re really close to having the standards finished,” said Liquor Control Board consultant Randy Simmons.
Simmons said the state is working on a draft “monograph” book that will set the standards for how labs should test marijuana for THC potency, microorganisms and pesticides.
“We’re hoping in the next few weeks to have a final monograth and then labs will know how to move forward,” Simmons said.
Marijuana testing is not new. Analytical 360 began testing marijuana two years ago in a small space in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood. The lab now tests test an average of 50 samples a day, and they’re upgrading to a 4,000-square-foot warehouse in Georgetown this fall.
Demand for their services was initially driven by medical marijuana patients who wanted to know more about their medicine, said chief operating officer Ed Stremlow. Cultivators quickly got on board because they wanted quality control of their crops — “just like in agriculture” — and to protect their profits, he said. (more…)
Here’s a look at what will be airing on TVW this week. We’ll update this post when new events are added.
Monday at 1:30 p.m.: TVW will be live on television and the web with the House Finance Committee. They’re holding a work session to compare Washington’s tax structure to other states. Washington state relies heavily on sales and excise taxes, and it does not have an income tax. Watch the webcast at this link.
Tuesday at 9 a.m.: TVW will air the oral arguments for three Supreme Court cases at 9 a.m., 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
Tuesday at 1:30 p.m.: TVW will live webcast the Senate Law and Justice Committee, which is scheduled to discuss the “medical necessity defense” for people who use medical marijuana. Watch the webcast here.
Wednesday at 9:30 a.m.: TVW will live webcast the Washington State Board of Health meeting from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Watch the live webcast here.
Wednesday at 1 p.m.: TVW willl live webcast a public hearing on a proposed coal export terminal at the former Reynolds Aluminum smelter near Longview. Watch the live webcast here.
Wednesday at 7 & 10 p.m.: On The Impact this week, host Anita Kissee looks at the renewed push to ensure children are provided legal representation in certain family court cases. Plus, an update on wolf recovery in Washington and changes to rules that allow people to kill wolves during attacks.
Thursday at 9:30 a.m.: TVW will be live on television and the web with the House Appropriations Committee. They’re holding a work session to get an update on mental health programs. They’ll also discuss prison population statistics and “lean management” savings. Watch the webcast at this link.
Thursday at 7 & 10 p.m.: Inside Olympia host Austin Jenkins interviews state Schools Superintendent Randy Dorn and Charter School Commission Chair Steve Sundquist.
Friday at 9 p.m.: TVW’s documentary on GMO labels will air at 9 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. “Washington’s Food Fight” examines the debate over Initiative 522, which would require labels on genetically engineered food sold in Washington state. The documentary is also available online here.
Here’s what will air on TVW this week:
Monday at 9 a.m.: The House Local Government Committee is holding a work session to discuss the Growth Management Act. The meeting will air live on television and the web.
Tuesday at 9 a.m. & Thursday at 9 a.m.: The state Supreme Court will hear oral arguments for the first six cases on its fall docket — the list of cases is available here. TVW will carry the arguments live on television and the web.
Tuesday at 11 a.m.: TVW will be live with a press conference by Gov. Jay Inslee as he launches his new “Results Washington” lean management initiative. Inslee’s chief of staff, Mary Alice Heuschel, and Wendy Korthuis-Smith, director of Results Washington, will also be a the press conference.
Tuesday at 11 a.m.: The House Government Accountability committee is holding a work session on the latest rules proposed for legal marijuana. They will also discuss the medical marijuana industry. Watch the live webcast here.
Wednesday at 7 & 10 p.m.: “The Impact” looks at the impact legal marijuana could have on cities around the state and why some are saying no. Plus, the “Initiative on Initiatives” — how I-517 could change the way petitions work in Washington.
Thursday at 7 & 10 p.m.: On “Inside Olympia,” host Austin Jenkins interviews the new state Republican Party Chair Susan Hutchinson, as well as Kim Mead, the new head of the state’s largest teachers’ union.
Friday at 10 a.m.: The Clemency and Pardons Board is scheduled to hear testimony from seven people, including Marriam Oliver, who was one of five teenagers convicted in the 2001 beating death of Jerry Heimann. Oliver is seeking a commutation of her 22-year sentence, while the others scheduled to testify are asking for pardons.
The state will allow up to 334 marijuana retail stores to open across Washington under the latest revised rules proposed Wednesday by the state Liquor Control Board.
King County will get 61 pot stores, with one-third of those stores located in Seattle. Pierce County will get 31 stores, including eight in Tacoma. Snohomish County could see 35 pot stores and Thurston County will get 11 — including two in Olympia.
The full list of cities is available here. The number of retail stores was decided based on population and marijuana consumption estimates made by the state’s pot consultant, BOTEC Analysis Corporation.
Retail stores will likely open in June of next year, according to board members.
Under the revised rules, entrepreneurs cannot open more than three marijuana retail stores, and they’ll be limited to three producer or processor licensees.
Liquor Control Board Director Rick Garza said those limits came in response to the most common request the board heard from the public at its meetings. People in the marijuana industry wanted to make sure that small business owners weren’t edged out by large corporations, he said.
“Limiting to three per individual or business is a way of doing that,” Garza said.
Read the full revised rules here. The board is accepting public comments on the rules for the next 30 days.
TVW taped Wednesday’s board meeting — watch it here.
The federal government announced Thursday it will not challenge marijuana laws in Washington and Colorado, clearing the way for the states to move forward with voter-approved laws that legalized marijuana for adults over the age of 21.
Gov. Jay Inslee said he was told of the decision in a telephone call Thursday morning with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.
Inslee praised the Obama administration for the decision, saying it “took courage, foresight and a lot of common sense wisdom.”
“This will allow our state to move forward and show the country the way a well-regulated system can be effectuated in a state,” Inslee said at a press conference Thursday.
The federal government will only enforce eight areas of the federal Controlled Substance Act in Washington and Colorado. Those areas were outlined in a memo sent to the governors and included the following:
- Preventing the distribution to minors
- Stopping marijuana revenue from going to “criminal enterprises, gangs and cartels”
- Keeping marijuana within the borders of the states where it is legal
- Preventing marijuana activity from being used as a “cover or pretext” for drug trafficking
- Firearms or violence cannot be used in the cultivation or distribution of marijuana
- Preventing driving while intoxicated
- Marijuana cannot be grown on public lands
- Marijuana cannot be possessed or used on federal property
Inslee said the eight areas align with Washington’s rules for legal marijuana sales. He said the state will have especially strict rules to keep marijuana out of the hands of minors, and to prevent them from being swayed by advertising.
“We will not allow what happened with Joe Camel tobacco to happen with marijuana,” Inslee said. “As a grandfather of three, I’m dedicated to that.”
Liquor Control Board director Rick Garza said the state will have even stricter laws for minors than it did when the state operated liquor stores. Those under 21 will not be allowed on the premises of any marijuana store or processing operation, he said, and those who sell marijuana to minors will face more severe penalties than those who sell alcohol to minors.
The federal government has also indicated a “willingness” to work with the states to come up with a banking or financial structure that will allow marijuana businesses to operate without violating federal law, Inslee said.
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said there are still details to work out in the coming weeks and months, especially in regard to the medical marijuana industry.
U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan in Seattle said Thursday that the state’s “unregulated” medical marijuana industry would still violate federal law.
Watch the press conference with Inslee and Ferguson below:
TVW will air repeats of the press conference Thursday at 3:45, 6 and 9:15 p.m.