New pot rules may prohibit advertising it may have medicinal value

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by ALLEN SCHAUFFLER / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on June 13, 2013 at 6:39 PM

Updated Thursday, Jun 13 at 7:40 PM

The Basics:

  • Under new rules being written, it will be against the law to make any advertising claims that marijuana has any "curative or therapeutic value."
  • The Washington State Liquor Control Board has released its top 10 suggestions for applying for a marijuana license.

It’s written into Washington state law (Chapter 69.51a RCW “MEDICAL CANNABIS”) for everybody to see. Pot is medicine as far as the State of Washington is concerned.

Voters approved the medical marijuana law back in 1998 and since then pot co-ops and dispensaries have bloomed like hemp in the sunshine. But with new rules being written for “recreational marijuana” following the passage of I-502 the state seems to saying there are different laws for different kinds of marijuana - one set for the fun pot and one set for serious pot.

Under the new rules it will be against the law to make any advertising claim that marijuana has any “curative or therapeutic value.”

The Liquor Control Board, which is drawing up the regulations to govern the new state-licensed industry, said the value of pot as medicine is something that should be “between and doctor and patient” and they simply aren’t going to deal with it.

Attorney Jay Berneburg who represents a number of medical marijuana co-ops, says that’s exactly how this should work, with the state acknowledging they’re dealing with different types of pot being used for different purposes by different consumer groups.

“Recreational is about partying, having fun, getting high, which is fine. The other is about medicine. It’s about helping cure symptoms, about relieving pain,” said Berneburg.

He shrugs off the apparent dichotomy of Washington law explicitly and repeatedly referring to marijuana and cannabis as having medicinal properties, and new Washington law not allowing any claim to be made that it has medicinal value. Burneburg wants to keep the fire-wall between the two worlds, especially at the point-of-sale.

“If I’m a cancer patient I want to talk to somebody who knows what their talking about. I don’t want some guy saying ‘Hey man, here’s a pack of Acapulco Golds. This will knock your socks off’. That’s not going to help me. I’m a cancer patient!”

The advertising restriction is just one of the many things people getting into the recreational pot business will have to pay attention to. The WSLCB has just released a top ten list:

Top 10 suggestions for applying for a marijuana license

10 (Know the Law and Rules)
The best place to start is reading the summary materials available to you on the
I-502 section of our website. In addition to the full text of the initiative, there are summaries of the law and rules as well as answers to frequently asked questions.
The WSLCB issued
initial draft rules on May 16, 2013. The WSLCB is scheduled to file official draft rules July 3, 2013. These rules will include the input we have received since May 16.

9 (Consider consulting an Attorney)
Have you consulted with an attorney or other business consultant on the potential risks and rewards? Marijuana remains illegal under federal law. Know your risks in advance. A state license is not insurance against federal prosecution. Governor Inslee and state Attorney General Ferguson have reached out to the Department of Justice (DOJ) to seek clarification regarding the federal government’s policy going forward for Washington and Colorado. As of this writing, the DOJ has said that it will provide clarification soon.

8 (Tightly Regulated System)
The Board has been clear from the beginning that its goal is to create a tightly controlled and regulated system to prevent diversion. There are strict regulations and subsequent associated costs. Do you have the necessary capital or financing to meet the start-up and operating costs? Under the current banking and money laundering laws, financial institutions will not lend money to marijuana-related businesses.

7 (Criminal History)

Do you and any potential partners qualify? Under the initial draft rules, the board has made allowances for two misdemeanor convictions for marijuana possession. However, an extensive or violent criminal history will likely prevent you from getting a license.

6 (State Residency)
Have you, your partners and your financiers resided in Washington State for three months? That is a requirement in both the law and the rules. The
initial draft rules spell out the residency requirements and the necessary proof for application. You would need to have started living in Washington State by mid-June if you want to apply when the application process begins in mid-September.

5 (Communicate with Your Local Government)
Have you talked with your local government (county, city or port) about your plans? Are there business license requirements or zoning restrictions? Local jurisdiction requirements vary.

4 (Special Use Regulations)
Are there environmental or special use permits required? Growing marijuana is agriculture which typically has specific requirements for production, wastewater, etc. It is the same thing with processing. Depending on your process methods there may be associated state or local regulations that govern them.

3 (Location, Location, Location)
You need a location in order to apply for your license. Initiative 502 specifically prohibits locations of any license type within 1,000 feet of the perimeter of an elementary or secondary school, playground, recreation center or facility, child care center, public park, public transit center, library, or arcade that is not restricted to persons at least age 21. These restrictions can make it difficult to find an appropriate place to locate your business.

2 (No Surprises)
Under the initial draft rules, the landlord or property owner must sign an attestation that he/she is aware that the property being leased will be used for production, processing, or retailing marijuana. Have you communicated with a potential landlord about whether they are willing to sign an attestation?

1 (Learn about the Application Process)
A marijuana producer, processor or retail license will be an endorsement on your Business License which is administered by the Washington State Department of Revenue. A $250 application fee per marijuana license type must be included with the application. There may be other licensing fees that are due depending on your residence, along with the Business Licensing Services (BLS) handling fee.

Due to the special circumstances of the 30 day application window for marijuana licenses and to ensure that applications submitted on time are accounted for, the application for the marijuana licenses will not be available to be processed online.  It will be paper-based only. However, you will be able to initiate the application at any
Washington State Department of Revenue office.

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