OLYMPIA – Washington’s first recreational marijuana stores are expected to open July 8, a day after the first licenses will be announced, state officials said Tuesday.
But those stores likely will not sell “edible” marijuana products when they first open because the state is preparing labeling and packaging rules for those items.
Gov. Jay Inslee and other state officials said they are increasing education efforts to keep marijuana out of the hands of children even as Washington prepares to allow the first stores to open early next month.
Sharon Foster, chairwoman of the Liquor Control Board, said the agency expects to issue about 20 licenses for retail marijuana stores on July 7, and those licensees could open their stores the next day. They won’t have to open that soon, she said, but most probably will take advantage of being among the first licensees.
After that first batch of licenses, the agency will continue to approve retailers who were selected by lottery and can prove they have all the necessary equipment, security and training in place.
Today, the board is expected to approve emergency regulations to limit the type of edible products marijuana processors will be allowed to distribute to the stores and the kinds of labels and packaging they can carry. The board likely will prohibit any labels that have cartoons or other features that appeal to children.
No marijuana processor has notified the board that it is ready to produce edible products. In Colorado, the only other state where recreational marijuana is legal, a wide variety of marijuana products include candy bars, cookies, brownies and candy that look like gummy bears. Some overdoses have occurred when users took too much, either because the dosage wasn’t clear on the label or because they weren’t familiar with the strength of the drug.
Washington was instrumental in forcing the tobacco industry to stop advertising to children through such devices as “Joe Camel,” state Attorney General Bob Ferguson said. It won’t let the fledgling marijuana industry employ a similar strategy to market to underage users.
Inslee said he hopes parents will talk with their children about the dangers of marijuana before the drug goes on sale for recreational use. The state has an informational website, LearnAboutMarijuanaWA.org, that provides advice for parents in talking about the drug.
State and local law enforcement officials also will be looking for drivers impaired by marijuana as part of their summer patrols for driving under the influence as part of a “Drive High/Get a DUI” campaign.