OLYMPIA – Potential growers, processors and vendors of marijuana will be able to apply for state licenses in one month.
On Wednesday, the agency in charge of setting up Washington’s recreational marijuana system approved rules businesses will have to follow to get the industry off the ground.
“It’s going to be a bumpy road for a while, folks,” said Sharon Foster, chairwoman of the Washington State Liquor Control Board.
The 43 pages of rules cover everything from how far away a marijuana store must be situated from schools, parks and other places frequented by children (1,000 feet from one property line to the other), to the size of a sign a store may have (1,600 square inches), to the hours it may be open (8 a.m. to midnight).
The rules describe the system to track a marijuana plant and its usable materials from the field to the processor to the store, as well as the warning labels that must accompany marijuana or products infused with the drug when they are sold.
The board has set the maximum number of stores that will be given a license for the state as a whole, for each county and for many cities. Spokane County will be allotted up to 18 licensed stores, with eight stores in the city of Spokane and three in the city of Spokane Valley; the remainder could be located elsewhere in the county.
It set a limit on the total amount of area that can be licensed to produce marijuana at 2 million square feet, which is about 46 acres. No licensee could use more than 30,000 square feet, or slightly more than two-thirds of an acre. A licensed grower could also obtain a processing license, but growers and processors can’t obtain a retailer’s license.
Marijuana will be assessed a 25 percent tax when it is sold by the grower, 25 percent again by a processor and a third time by the retailer, all costs that are expected to be passed along to the consumer.
Board member Chris Marr, a former state senator from Spokane, called the rules a balance between public access and public safety, and should allay the fears of cities and counties that have passed moratoriums on marijuana businesses being located within their borders.
“We might not have it exactly right,” Marr added, and some adjustments will likely need to be made in the coming years.
The board will hold a series of seminars around the state to help potential applicants understand the rules and answer their questions. A pair of seminars are scheduled for the Spokane Convention Center on Oct. 23. Applications for the licenses will be available beginning Nov. 18, with recreational marijuana available for sale to adults by mid-2014.