Washington residents and out-of-staters could buy an ounce of marijuana, seven days a week, up to 20 hours a day, in visits to state-regulated stores under draft rules for a new legal pot system released Thursday by the Liquor Control Board.
That rule is more permissive than in Colorado, the other state creating an adult recreational pot market. Colorado lawmakers limited out-of-staters to buying one-quarter ounce in stores in an effort to impede “smurfing,” the practice of making repeated buys and aggregating pot to sell in the black market.
But Washington would not allow the sale of marijuana concentrates, such as hash or hash oil, unless they were infused in edible or liquid products. The high-potency concentrates have become popular, particularly with younger users.
Washington’s 46-page raft of rules cover issues from product testing to growing licenses to advertising restrictions to package labeling.
The draft rules would allow sun-grown pot in greenhouses — with rigid walls, a roof and doors — but not open fields. And they would not cap the number of growing licenses issued by the state, in an effort to include smaller growers in a seed-to-store system untested on the planet.
Alison Holcomb, primary author of Initiative 502, which legalized recreational pot, said she was pleased with the rules’ balancing of public safety and health with the desire to create a workable system.
She noted that many rules seem to beg for further definition and refinement. “This is literally just a preview of where they are right now. And they’re intentionally doing this to give the public an opportunity to provide meaningful input,” said Holcomb, drug policy director for the ACLU of Washington state.
Washington’s new system allows adults to possess one ounce of dried marijuana, one pound of pot-infused edibles, and 72 ounces of pot-laced liquid.
Under proposed rules, the state would not track a person’s pot purchases, or know how many stores they visit in a day.
Trying to stop smurfing makes more sense in Colorado than Washington, according to some. Colorado is more centrally located and states on three sides have strict laws against marijuana, said Christian Sederberg, a member of Colorado’s Amendment 64 Task Force. A law enforcement group reported evidence that Colorado’s medical marijuana was diverted to 23 states.
Washington is different, with abundant weed in British Columbia to the north and Oregon to the south. “I don’t think someone will go to 15 stores and drive (the pot) somewhere,” said Randy Simmons, the state’s marijuana project director.
Other proposed rules include:
• Uniform testing standards by independent accredited labs.
• Consumers will know the contents and potency of products they buy.
• Advertising will be restricted near schools and areas where children are prevalent.
• Background checks for license applicants and financiers. Certain criminal convictions, such as a non-marijuana felony in the last 10 years, would exclude applicants.
• Strict security and surveillance, as well as tracking systems for products, would be required.
• A retail store could sell between 6 a.m. and 2 a.m.
• Pot consumption would not be allowed on the premises of licensed businesses.
• A city or county could seek to block a license, but the board could reject the request.
The initial draft rules, not to be confused with the official draft rules filed in mid-June, reflect the liquor board’s initial thinking on what Washington’s system of marijuana growing, processing and retailing will look like. The board issued draft rules now because it wants to vet the groundbreaking regulations before it releases formal draft rules in June, which can be more difficult to revise.
The board wants input on the proposals by June 10. The best way to contact the LCB is via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The draft rules will be posted on the LCB website at www.liq.wa.gov.