State releases draft rules for marijuana industry

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by ALLEN SCHAUFFLER / KING 5 News and Associated Press

KING5.com

Posted on May 16, 2013 at 7:15 AM

Updated Thursday, May 16 at 6:00 PM

If you want to grow, package or sell marijuana, the State of Washington is going to make you work for the privilege.

New “Draft Rules” released Thursday afternoon show new details on the process for applying to grow, process and sell marijuana as required by the passage last fall of I-502.

Each licensee will pay $250 for the privilege and an additional $1,000 a year if they win a license.  Any costs connected with fingerprinting and criminal background checks will also be paid by applicants.

And it won’t only be the applicants themselves getting serious scrutiny, but their financiers as well.

Anybody involved with the business on the money end of things will also be checked out. Past crimes will be rated for severity and a system of “points” has been devised; have too many “points” on your record and you will be turned down.

 In addition, everybody involved in an official capacity with a state-licensed, pot-based business will have to be at least a three-month resident of the state of Washington.

The “Draft Rules” are 46 pages long, just another step in the long and complicated road to decriminalizing recreational marijuana use.

Robert McVay, a lawyer who specializes in marijuana issues says it’s a good, solid start. He would like to see more specifics on a few issues, things like the 1,000-foot buffer zones around each marijuana-based business and the definition of a “transit center” in connection with those buffer zones.

“These rules are in better shape than I thought they’d be” he says, “What we’re looking for is not necessarily wholesale changes to what we have here; we’re just looking for some tweaks.”

The public is encouraged to comment about the rules. You can do that at the WSLCB’s website. The final, official rules will be approved by late June.

Some of the key points released by the board (Download the full list of rules)

License Requirements

  • The application window would open for 30 days for all license types and extended or re-opened at the Board's discretion. This approach was similar to how Colorado opened its medical marijuana system.
  • License applicants and financiers would be required to submit a form attesting to their criminal history, provide fingerprints, and allow criminal background checks.
  • The WSLCB would employ a disqualifying criminal history point system similar to liquor. An exception would be allowed for two misdemeanor convictions of possession within three years.

Public Safety

  • Producer operations would be allowed in both secure indoor grows or greenhouses.
  • A robust and comprehensive traceability 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 surveillance systems similar to Colorado's current system.
  • Initiative 502 restricts advertising 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.

Consumer Safety

  • No open containers allowed.
  • Consumers will know contents and potency of products they purchase.
  • Serving sizes equal 10 mg of THC. Products are limited to 100 mg.
  • Uniform testing standards by independent accredited labs.

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