Liquor Control Board gives initial OK to regulations on legalized marijuana

The Washington State Liquor Control Board took the next step on rules that will guide the production and sale of legal marijuana in the state at the board's meeting Wednesday in Olympia.

A public hearing on the rules is planned for Oct. 9. A location has not yet been announced.

The liquor control board is planning to take a final vote on the new regulations — which guide the production of legal marijuana from seed to sale — on Oct. 16.

The rules will take effect one month later, and the state expects to begin accepting applications for marijuana growing and processing businesses, as well as retail sales, on Nov. 18.

Washington state voters approved the legal sale and recreational use of marijuana with the passage of Initiative 502 in November 2012.

Last week, the Department of Justice notified officials in Washington and Colorado, where voters had approved ballot measures to legalize marijuana, that the federal government would not try to stop legalization efforts in the two states as long as "strict regulatory schemes" were adopted.

Those measures, the Department of Justice noted, should include preventing access to marijuana by minors and creating a tightly regulated market where marijuana revenues are tracked and accounted for.

Washington state officials said Wednesday that the proposed rules would meet the standards set by the federal government.

“These rules fulfill the public expectation of creating a tightly regulated and controlled system while providing reasonable access to participation in the market, said Sharon Foster, chairwoman of the Washington State Liquor Control Board. “Importantly, we believe these rules meet the eight federal government enforcement priorities within Thursday’s guidance memo from the Department of Justice.”

State official highlighted key sections of the new rules that address public safety concerns.

Marijuana grow operations will have strict on-site security requirements, including the use of multiple surveillance video cameras at key locations and entryways.

Criminal background checks will be conducted on anyone who applies for a license to grow, process or sell marijuana. Advertising for marijuana will also be tightly controlled to make sure it isn't targeted or appealing to children.

The board also said a maximum of 334 retail marijuana outlets would be allowed statewide.

A total of 10 would be allowed in Kitsap County, with two in Bremerton, one on Bainbridge Island, and the remaining seven in the unincorporated area of Kitsap.



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