The haze regarding the timeline of new marijuana rules in Washington state is starting to clear.
Last week, the Washington state Liquor Control Board issued dates for filing its recreational marijuana draft rules as the deadline for collecting public input on the first cut of draft rules issued in May expired. On Wednesday, the board held a work session on the proposed new rules.
At this point, the board – which has been grappling with how to handle the implications of the passage of Initiative 502 last November – has set the following dates:
- July 3 – Board files officials draft rules with the state code reviser
- Aug. 7 – Public hearing on draft rules
- Aug. 14 – Board adopts rules
- Sept. 14 – Effective date of rules and WSCLCB begins accepting applications for all license types.
According to Brian Smith, spokesman for the Liquor Control Board, the initial public input on the rules was “relatively light.” However, many more written comments were received over the weekend.
That late push has caused the board to take an extra amount of time to review the suggestions.
“In keeping with our goal of an open and transparent process for drafting the rules, we’re going to take an additional two weeks to consider the last-minute input we’ve receive,” Rick Garza, WSLCB director, said in a prepared statement Monday. “It’s our responsibility to carefully review and consider the comments we’ve received.”
Washington state, along with Colorado, will govern the world’s only comprehensive system of growing, processing and retailing marijuana for recreational use.
The initial draft rules reflect the board’s stated goal of developing a tightly regulated and controlled recreational marijuana market. Included in the rules are elements that address out-of-state diversion of product, traceability of product from start to sale, youth access and other public and consumer safety concerns.
Below are some key elements proposed in the initial draft rules:
- Application Window -- The application window would open for 30 days for all license types and extended or re-opened at the Board’s discretion. This approach was similar to how Colorado opened its medical marijuana system.
- Background Checks -- License applicants and financiers would be required to submit a form attesting to their criminal history, provide fingerprints, and allow criminal background checks.
- Point System -- The WSLCB would employ a disqualifying criminal history point system similar to liquor. An exception would be allowed for two misdemeanor convictions of possession within three years.
- Producer Structures -- Producer operations would be allowed in both secure indoor grows or greenhouses.
- Traceability -- A robust and comprehensive traceability software system will trace product from start to sale.
- Violation Guidelines -- In addition to the $1,000 fine for certain violations established by I-502, the initial draft rules also include a strict tiered system of violation penalties over a three year period (similar to the current standard penalty guidelines for liquor).
- Security -- The rules direct strict on-site surveillance systems similar to Colorado’s current system.
- Advertising Restrictions -- I-502 restricts advertising within 1,000 feet of schools, public parks, transit centers, arcades, and other areas where children are present. The draft rules further restrict advertising as they pertain to children.
- Behind the Counter Storage -- No open containers allowed.
- Package and Label Requirements -- Consumers will know contents and potency of products they purchase.
- Defined Serving Size -- Serving sizes equal 10 mg of THC. Products are limited to 100 mg.
- Lab Tested -- Uniform testing standards by independent accredited labs.
The WSLCB is working with its consultant, BOTEC Analysis Corporation, to identify marijuana consumption levels in each county. The WSLCB will use that data at a later date to identify the number of retail stores in each county. Should the number of applicants exceed the number of retail outlets identified for each county, the WSLCB will hold a lottery to choose entities eligible to apply.
Additional information about I-502, including: a timeline for implementation, answers to frequently asked questions, and a fact sheet are available on the WSLCB Web site at liq.wa.gov.