Marijuana rules: Some heavy stuff put out for public comment

The Washington Liquor Control Board has put together wide-ranging rules to implement the voter-approved legalization of pot.
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Medical marijuana grower Brendan Howley working with marijuana plants grown under current state medical marijuana prescriptions in Skagit County. New rules are being proposed for sales under a state law legalizing marijuana.

The Washington Liquor Control Board has put together wide-ranging rules to implement the voter-approved legalization of pot.

One way that smoking legal pot will just be like smoking cigarettes: Your pack of weed could include the printed label, “Warning: Smoking may be hazardous to your health.”

The Washington State Liquor Control Board unveiled Thursday the draft ground rules for growing, processing and selling recreational marijuana .The public has until June 10 to comment on the proposed regulations.

The 46-page set of draft rules includes how to apply for a license to grow, process or sell pot. How to object to such a facility locating an area. How to get a license revoked or suspended. Where such an operation can be located. What paperwork will be needed for a long list of marijuana-related activities. How the weed will be taxed. The potency of the pot. How the finances are to be set up and monitored.

On taxes, each sale from a grower to a processor to a retailer to a customer-— including those involving middlemen in that chain — will result in a 25 percent tax to the state.

Any marijuana operation must be more than 1,000 feet from any school, playground, recreation center, child-care center, public park, library or game arcade that children can attend,

The liquor board will eventually set a number of marijuana retail shops for each county, after which people can apply for the available licenses. The initial application period will be 30 days, with additional windows of opportunity to be opened later as needed. If more applications show up than licenses available for a county, the selections will be done by random drawings. The state-required records will include purchase documents, inventories, accounting and tax paperwork, employee training records, quality assurance test records, weights, and monthly reports to the state

Retail sales will be limited to one ounce of marijuana to smoke, or 16 ounces of a marijuana-laced solid food, or 72 ounces of a marijuana-laced liquid, all to be sold only to people 21 years old or older. The rules set a maximum of 10 milligrams of TCH — the chemical in marijuana that actually gets someone high — in a single serving a marijuana-laced food.

Several types of warning labels must be attached to the products, including the traditional one about smoking being hazardous to health.

Also, requirements will be set for having independent labs provide quality control.

A tricky aspect of the license application process is how to deal with the fact that people experienced with growing, processing and selling marijuana have a decent chance of having been convicted in the past for doing so. The draft rules address this by installing a point system for applicants' criminal records. Eight or more points will disqualify someone from receiving a license.

The proposed point system is as follows: A felony conviction is 12 points. A gross misdemeanor conviction in the past three years is five points. Most misdemeanor convictions in the past three years would score our points. Someone with one or two misdemeanor marijuana possession convictions in the past three years would receive zero points. Someone currently on probation or under supervision for a felony gets eight points. Someone not disclosing a past criminal record would get four points. Convictions on growing or selling marijuana will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

Meanwhile, violating the numerous marijuana growing, processing and selling regulations will result in fines and suspensions of licenses. Some violations will result of the loss of a license, including buying pot from an unauthorized source, selling to an unauthorized person and selling in excess of the legal limits.


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About the Authors & Contributors

John Stang

John Stang

John Stang is a freelance writer who often covers state government and the environment. He can be reached on email at and on Twitter at @johnstang_8