April 24, 2014 in City

Washington likely to ban delivery of marijuana

By The Spokesman-Review
 

OLYMPIA – Recreational marijuana purchases in Washington will be takeout but not delivery, proposed new rules say.

The Liquor Control Board, which is overseeing the establishment of the state’s legal marijuana system, appears likely to ban home-delivery of the drug along with several other tweaks to laws it has been writing and rewriting since voters approved Initiative 502 in 2012. Among the revisions are clarifications to what recreational marijuana stores can and cannot do.

The law already says customers can’t consume the drug in the store or any other public place. Proposed rule changes presented to the board Wednesday and likely to be approved at a future meeting say retailers can’t sell over the Internet and can’t deliver to customers. Buyers will have to come to the store in person, where the staff must make sure they are 21 or older and not buying more at one time than the law allows.

“Home delivery’s getting to be an established practice among medical marijuana dispensaries in Seattle,” Liquor Board member Chris Marr said. The board has no control over medical marijuana but doesn’t want recreational marijuana to follow that trend.

No one objected to that change Wednesday, or to most other proposals, such as one that bars stores from taking back marijuana in packages that have been opened or another requiring processors to take back products and sample jars from retailers so they can be properly disposed of. Stores won’t be set up to destroy unused or unwanted products. Under the rules, the processors don’t have to give a refund for returned products. 

Another proposed rule says stores can’t sell edible marijuana products that must be kept refrigerated or heated. The Health Department is worried such items could become hazardous if kept at the wrong temperature. 

The no-delivery rule can’t guarantee someone won’t try to set up business as a “runner,” buying from the store and making a delivery to a customer for a fee. Transporting marijuana that way would be illegal, but the board’s enforcement officers might not know unless a store complains about someone making repeat purchases or trying to buy more than the amount allowed per customer visit.

“As in so many of our rules, they get enforced by complaint,” Chairwoman Sharon Foster said. 

The board is preparing for a lottery that will select applicants for retail marijuana licenses in locations that have more applicants than the state will allow. Of the 2,166 applications filed statewide, nearly 1,000 have been disqualified for failing to send in documents or not meeting key requirements like being at least 1,000 feet from a school or park. For the remaining applicants, the board will hold lotteries for 76 cities or counties to select licensees; 46 locations no longer have more applicants than allotted licenses.


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