Public Safety & Justice

Washington State Finalizes Legal Marijuana Rules

October 18, 2013
 

With little fanfare in a drab conference room, the state Liquor Control Board adopted rules for a legal marijuana system after 10 months of research, revisions, wrangling with the federal government and wrestling with who-would’ve-imagined questions.

In a unanimous vote Wednesday, state officials charted the course for an experiment that seeks to undercut illegal dealers and launched the next leg of the journey: licensing a recreational-pot industry serving customers with 334 retail stores.

Adults will be able to walk into stores between 8 a.m. and midnight beginning next year to buy small amounts of marijuana products, including buds and brownies produced with state-certified safe levels of pesticides and other chemicals.

“The Washington state Liquor Control Board just built the template for responsible legalization of marijuana,” said Alison Holcomb, chief author of the legal-pot law. Holcomb is traveling to England, Poland and the Netherlands in coming weeks to discuss Washington’s law and rules, and is part of a new panel studying the idea in California.

Liquor-board members predicted a bumpy ride for the next year or so, with further tweaking of the rules likely.

“We might not have it exactly right today,” said board member Chris Marr of the 43 pages of rules. “But we’re in an excellent position to open stores in the middle of next year.”

State officials expect stores to open as early as May. Farms would start growing several months earlier.

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