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Inslee: We can stop ‘leakage’ on legal pot

Inslee shows off the decorating changes in the governor's office, which include a portrait of Abraham Lincoln given to him by his father-in-law, a Republican.

OLYMPIA — State officials are trying to convince the federal government they can keep legally grown pot from making its way over the border to Oregon, Idaho or other states at they try to avoid a legal fight over the new marijuana law.

“It is our responsiblilty to show the federal government we will be a responsible entity,” Gov. Jay Inslee said today/

One of the key issues the state is trying to get more information to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is “leakage”, or the movement of some legally grown and licensed marijuana from being diverted into the black market. It is compiling information about the state patrol's highway interdiction program to send to Washington, D.C.

“They've been very successful,” Inslee said at a press conference. 
 
It is also talking to representatives of the bio-technology industry, which currently tracks prescription drugs, to find a way to track legally grown marijuana from the farm to the store, he said. 
 
The federal government probably won't be too concerned about marijuana sold in stores making its way across the borders, he said. With a limit of one ounce per person in the new law,  that's likely too small of an amount for the feds to worry about.
 
Inslee and state Attorney General Bob Ferguson met with Holder this week, but the U.S. attorney general didn't give any indication on what the federal government might do after Washington establishes a system for regulating, licensing and taxing marijuana, Inslee said. But Holder “appears to be willing to listen to our proposals.”
 
Initiative 502, which voters passed last year, says that system must be running by Dec. 1, and “I intend to meet that goal,” neither speeding up the process nor slowing it down, Inslee said. The Washington State Liquor Control Board is in the process of developing rules to cover the production and sale of marijuana.
 
Republican leaders in the Legislature said they respect the will of the voters in passing the initiative but it was up to Inslee to 'weave his way through the federal issues.” The state needs to make sure it doesn't jeopardize hundreds of millions of dollars in federal aid by setting up a system to regulate an illegal substance, and protect state workers involved in the regulation from federal arrest.
 
Sen. Rodney Tom, D-Medina, the Senate majority leader, said he doesn't want some state having to explain to an employee's children that their mother is in jail “because she did her job.” 

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About this blog

Jim Camden is a veteran political reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Jonathan Brunt is an enterprise reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Kip Hill is a general assignments reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Nick Deshais covers Spokane City Hall for The Spokesman-Review.

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