OLYMPIA – Washington residents have suggestions for how the state should write new rules to grow legal marijuana. Hundreds of them.
Some want the state Liquor Control Board, which is trying to come up with those rules, to keep out the large corporations. Others want the board to limit the kinds of chemicals that could be used to fight off weeds, bugs or mold. Still others fear the taxes will be too high or regulations too restrictive and stub out a budding industry.
And a few are still unhappy that Initiative 502 passed last fall, removing state penalties for personal use of marijuana by adults.
“Why doesn’t your office just ask your local drug dealers to see how they do business?” suggested a person who signed the email One Ashamed Washingtonian.
“It runs the gamut,” said Brian Smith, a spokesman for the Liquor Control Board. “There is just a lot of passion out there on both sides of the issue.”
After 1-502 passed in November, the board set up a Listserv, a computerized notification system for people interested in the yearlong process of setting regulations for growing, processing and selling recreational marijuana. That Listserv now has more than 2,100 subscribers. The board’s regular Listserv for notification of all other regulations and announcements has about 1,000.
Suggestions have been pouring in ever since the board asked for help on what regulations should say. A review of more than 250 pages of letters and emails so far shows a wide range of opinions.
Leon Sproule, of Chattaroy, said the state should limit the size of growing operations for safety and competition. “If there is a large number of small producers, scattered out in agricultural areas, the ability to rob someone and get a big score would be eliminated,” Sproule wrote. “Let growers compete with variety and flavors.”
Gabe Newsome said the state should “let the little guy have a chance to prove his ability to (be) an entrepreneur.”
Another contact who signed his email simply Caleb is eager to start growing, and believes he could quickly generate five pounds per week of “top quality marijuana that would sell out before any other pot that I know of.”
He could double that by hiring three people, and from there “the number is limitless,” he wrote, adding altruistically: “I’m not in it for the money. I’m in it to help this struggling country.”
Several people asked where to apply for a license. Rules Coordinator Karen McCall replied there were no licenses, yet, because the regulations haven’t been written.
Applications probably won’t be available until April or May. Before that, the board will schedule and hold public forums in Spokane and several other cities.
The board has heard from law firms offering expertise in drafting regulations; drug testing companies interested in the new standard for driving under the influence of marijuana; and a Los Angeles company interested in setting up an online sale operation.
Most get a “thank you for your interest” response from McCall and notification they are being forwarded to the board. Online sales, however, aren’t legal, she said.
Some suggested the board lower the 25 percent tax on growers because it would make pot production unprofitable. The tax rate is in the law voters passed, McCall wrote, and only the Legislature could change it.
Others said people should be allowed to grow marijuana at home – in a greenhouse, a basement or even on a rooftop – for personal use without buying the $250 license. That’s not allowed under the law, and the board can’t change that either, she replied.
Another suggested the names and addresses of licensed growers should be kept confidential for their own protection. Sorry, said the board; under state law, they’ll be public record.
Some people thought anyone with a felony conviction should be barred from obtaining a license. But Daniel Harris had a different suggestion. People with drug convictions should be acceptable, as long as their record was free of violent or gun-related crimes, “since they know how to grow.”