State releases draft rules for growing, selling legal marijuana

OLYMPIA, Wash. - The state released preliminary draft rules Thursday on the emerging recreational marijuana market, covering an array of topics ranging from how pot should be grown and tested for quality assurance to what types of security should be required at state-licensed pot businesses.

"These initial rules balance our goal of developing a tightly regulated system with reasonable access for small and large business models to participate within the system," said state Liquor Control Board Chair Sharon Foster.

"They are based upon hundreds of hours of internal research and deliberation, consultation with multiple industry experts and input from the over 3,000 individuals who attended our forums statewide."

Voters approved legal marijuana for recreational use with the passage of Initiative 502 in November 2012.

The Liquor Control Board is seeking public comment through June 10 on its initial draft rules before officially initiating the formal draft rule-making process in mid-June.

The initial draft rules include 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.

Some key elements proposed in the initial draft rules:

The application window would open for 30 days for all license types and extended or re-opened at the Board's discretion. License applicants would be required to submit a form attesting to their criminal history, provide fingerprints, and allow criminal background checks.

The Liquor Board would employ a disqualifying criminal history point system for license applicants similar to liquor. An exception would be allowed for two misdemeanor convictions of possession within three years.

Producer operations would be allowed in both secure indoor grows or greenhouses.

A robust and comprehensive software system will trace product from start to sale.

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).

The rules direct strict on-site security surveillance systems similar to Colorado's current system.

Advertising would be restricted 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.

Marijuana product must be behind the counter. No open containers allowed.

Labeling must display the contents and potency of products that consumers purchase.

Serving sizes should be equal to 10 mg of THC. Products are limited to 100 mg.

Uniform testing standards should be made by independent accredited labs.

The state Liquor Board is working with its consultant, BOTEC Analysis Corp., to identify marijuana consumption levels in each county. That data will be used 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 Liquor Board will hold a lottery to choose entities eligible to apply.

After the June 10 deadline for comment, the Liquor Board will incorporate appropriate changes to the rules before officially filing draft rules later in June.


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