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Spokane pot businesses could bank on credit union

OLYMPIA — Numerica Credit Union is the first financial institution in the state willing to accept clients whose business is recreational marijuana, the Washington Liquor Control Board was told Wednesday.

But only for Spokane area businesses, Becky Smith, the board's marijuana licensing manager, said: “They want to keep it local.”

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

Pot store lottery at the end of April

OLYMPIAWashington will announce the winners of licenses for its first legal recreational marijuana stores at the beginning of May, after a complicated “double-blind” lottery is held at the end of this month.

The first legal sales aren’t likely until the beginning of July, after the lottery winners complete construction, pass final inspection and get their products from state-licensed marijuana farms. . . 

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, click here to continue inside the blog.

Liquor Board sets new pot-growing limits

UPDATE: OLYMPIA — Faced with far more people wanting to grow legal marijuana than state rules would allow, the Liquor Control Board upped the amount of land that can be planted to the drug by more than five-fold. But it also put some new restrictions on would-be growers.

The board agreed Wednesday to limit applicants to one grower license per business entity, cutting down on the multiple requests some new marijuana entrepreneurs have turned in for as many as three grower licenses. It also reduced the amount of land all requests will be allowed to plant by 30 percent.

“We are going to do this right,” Board Chairwoman Sharon Foster said. “The Department of Justice is not going to have anything to complain about for the state of Washington.”

The board’s decision came as the state’s fiscal analysts made their first estimates of legal marijuana’s boost to state coffers – a possible $51 million bump in tax revenue from recreational sales – and the Legislature continued to examine ways to merge the separate existing medical marijuana system with the untried recreational system. . . 

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, click here to continue inside the blog.

Daily Show tweets about WA pot biz rush

As reported earlier this week in Spin Control:

OLYMPIA — Washington is seeing a green rush of sorts in marijuana, with far more people wanting to grow and sell the drug legally than the state will allow.

Pot applications continue to pour in

Applications for marijuana stores in Spokane County

OLYMPIA — Washington has many times more people who want to sell or grow marijuana that the state will allow, and all the applications have yet to be processed.

The Washington Liquor Control Board today released the names and addresses of some 6,600 businesses that have applied for licenses to produce, process or sell recreational marijuana under the law voters passed in November 2012.

The 2,035 applications for retail marijuana stores is about six times more than the 334 retail licenses that board said will be approved for Washington. After all of the applications are examined to make sure they comply with rules for obtaining any required local permits and have locations that are at least 1,000 feet from schools, parks, playgrounds or other areas mainly for children, the board will hold a lottery in each county or city that has more applications than the number allocated.

The Spokane area has nearly eight times more requests for retail licenses than the 18 allocated. Under board rules, the city of Spokane can have eight marijuana stores, the city of Spokane Valley can have three and all other areas of the county can have seven. 

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

Liquor Board would limit medical marijuana

Washington should severely cut the amount of marijuana that medical patients can possess, require them to register with the state, have annual medical checkups, and pay most of the same taxes as recreational users, a state agency recommended today.

In a move sure to draw fire from the medical marijuana community, the state Liquor Control Board released recommendations it will send to next year's Legislature as the state tries to blend two sets of laws on the drug.

The board is authorized by Initiative 502 to regulate recreational marijuana use, and is currently accepting applications for businesses that want to grow, process or sell the drug to adults for private use. The board has no authority over medical marijuana, which was approved by voters in 1998, and is largely unregulated.

As part of the 2013-15 general operating budget earlier this year, the Legislature directed the board to work with the state departments of Health and Revenue to study the two systems and come up with recommendations to integrate them. Legislators will still have to draft bills that would include some or all of the recommendations, and get them through the two chambers and signed by Gov. Jay Inslee.

For more information on the board's recommendations, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

Pot store applications growing

 

Washington has received 230 license applications for recreational marijuana stores.

As the map shows, many are concentrated between Everett and Tacoma — no surprise because that's where the state's population is concentrated. But the proposals for stores are also starting to dot the rest of the state, and Spokane County has nine, half of the allotment the Liquor Control Board has set aside.

Businesses have until Dec. 19 to apply for a license to grow, process or sell recreational marijuana under Initiative 502. 

For an enlargeable map that has names and addresses of would-be marijuana stores, click here

State recommends taxes, limits on medical pot

OLYMPIA –  A proposal by state agencies to overhaul Washington’s medical marijuana system, restricting access and toughening requirements for patients, was immediately criticized by some advocates for the drug.

Staff from the state Health and Revenue departments, along with the Liquor Control Board which will run the state's new recreational marijuana industry, Monday released four pages of recommendations that would essentially rewrite a 15-year-old law that allows patients to use and grow the drug if they have with certain medical conditions.

For details on the proposals, go inside the blog.

State pot rules get board OK

OLYMPIA — Potential growers, processors and vendors of marijuana will be able to apply for state licenses in one month. The agency in charge of setting up the state's recreational marijuana system this morning approved the rules they'll have to follow to get the industry off the ground.

“Today we are making history,” Sharon Foster, chairwoman of the Washington State Liquor Control Board, said. “It's going to be a bumpy road for a while, folks.”

The 43 typed pages of rules cover everything from how far a marijuana store must be from schools, parks and other places frequented by children (1,000 feet, in a straight line from property boundaries) 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)

They describe the system to track a marijuana plant and its useable materials it produces 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.

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 moratoria 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 licensing “seminars” around the state to help potential applicants understand the rules and answer their questions. A pair of seminars is scheduled for the Spokane Convention Center on Oct. 23. Applications for the licenses will be available beginning Nov. 18.

Sunday Spin 2: Which crows are those?

Fearing the long arm of the federal government, the Washington State Liquor Control Board said Friday it was changing the way it would measure the distance between schools and legal pot stores. Instead of 1,000 feet on the most common route of travel, it will be a straight line from the nearest points of the two properties. Or “as the crow flies” …

 

To read the rest of this item, continue inside the blog.

 

Proposed pot store rules change again

OLYMPIA — Under pressure from the federal government, the state agency trying to develop regulations for legal marijuana stores is again changing a rule regarding how far they must be from schools and playgrounds.

Stores selling recreational marijuana to adults must be at least 1,000 feet away from those and some other facilities, as measured in a straight line between the boundaries of the two properties,

Last week, in announcing the latest round of rule changes that put limitations on businesses that would grow, process or sell marijuana,  the Washington State Liquor Control Board tentatively approved a rule that would measure that 1,000 feet along “the most common path of travel”. It was the system the board used for liquor store licenses, and could have resulted in stores being closer to schools.

U.S. attorneys for Eastern and Western Washington earlier this week warned Gov. Jay Inslee that they would enforce the straight-line standard, sometimes called “as the crow flies.” A recent memo from the U.S. Justice Department that is seen as allowing Washington to try developing a legal marijuana system as approved by state voters listed failing to keep the drug away from minors as one of the things that could cause its agents to enforce federal laws, which still list it as an illegal drug for all uses. 

Rick Garza, agency executive director, said the board used the emergency rule process for the change so potential applicants would know about it as they look for locations and prepare to seek licenses, which might be available in mid-November.

In adopting the previous change to the “common path” method of measuring distance last week, board members said they were opening up more potential areas for stores in some cities. Garza said Friday he didn't know how the latest change would effect the number of potential locations, but said cities shouldn't be worried because the number of stores will be strictly limited. The straight line method will be easier to measure and verify, he added.

The board will hold two hearings on the changes it tentatively adopted last week, including one at 6 p.m. Oct. 9 at the Spokane Convention Center.

Legal pot hearing in Spokane Oct. 9

The state agency developing rules for legal recreational marijuana in Washington will hold a hearing in Spokane on Oct. 9. Another hearing will be in Seattle Oct. 8.

The Washington State Liquor Control Board said Friday the hearing will start at 6 p.m. at the Convention Center, and go for up to three hours.

Earlier this week the board set limits on the number of retail stores that would be allowed in each of the state’s 39 counties, the number of licenses any person could hold and the area that a licensed grower could use. It expects to begin accepting license applications in November and licenses awarded in early 2014. Stores might be open by June 1.

Details of the board's latest changes in rules can be found here.

WA pot rules, by the numbers

Rules for legal recreational marijuana in Washington

3 Number of licenses to grow, process or sell marijuana allowed for any person or company

8.25 The average amount of marijuana, in grams, per adult that would come from the allowable crop of 40 metric tons.

50 The percentage of licensees the board estimates will go out of business in their first year

334 Stores that could be licensed to sell marijuana in the state; 18 could be in Spokane County

1,000 The distance, in feet, a marijuana story must be from a school, park or day care center, by the “common path of travel”

2 million Total area, in square feet, allowed for growing marijuana in state. No licensee could plant more than 30,000 sq. ft., or about two-thirds of an acre

 

For the story on today's Washington State Liquor Control Board's tentative approval of new rules, scroll down to next item.

Legal marijuana likely available next June

OLYMPIA — Anyone waiting to legally buy recreational marijuana in Washington will have to wait about nine months longer.

Revised regulations given tentative approval Wednesday for a system to license, inspect and track the drug would probably get the first lawfully grown and processed marijuana into state-licensed stores by June 1, some 20 months after voters legalized it with Initiative 502.

For those a bit bummed about the wait, this may be a bit of consolation: There could be 334 stores operating by then, as many as 18 in Spokane County.

But only if cities and counties that have adopted moratoria on marijuana businesses within their boundaries drop their objections.

The Washington State Liquor Control Board approved another round of changes to regulations it has been crafting since last December to grow, process and sell marijuana. It will hold hearings in early October in Spokane and Seattle, and if nothing else comes up, give the 43 pages of rules a final OK on Oct. 16.

 The proposed rules limit the overall size of the state’s marijuana crop, the number of licenses anyone can hold and amount of the drug the licensees can have on hand. . .

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, click here to continue inside the blog.

Board delays pot rules

OLYMPIA — The state's rules for legally growing and selling marijuana will get another rewrite.

The Washington State Liquor Control Board voted unanimously this morning to delay final approval of the rules while the staff crafts new provisions in several areas, including a possible limit to the amount of marijuana to be grown in the state and changes to the way the 1,000-foot restrictions for stores will be calculated.

The changes were prompted in part by hearings around the state last week.

“We've definitely heard some things some people didn't like in the first rules,” Chairwoman Sharon Foster said. “Things have changed as people have become more educated on the issue.”

The new rules will be filed by the first week of September, and at least one hearing will be held on them in early October. The board would approve them, unless the hearing prompts further changes, on Oct. 16 and begin accepting applications for licenses for marijuana growers, processors and retailers in mid November. Under that timetable, the board would comply with the mandate of Initiative 502 to have rules in place by Dec. 1.

Board member Chris Marr said it was possible, but “highly unlikely” that the rules would have to be revised again as a result of the October hearing, unless there's some clear direction from the federal government how they will react to the state's legal system for recreational marijuana. Production, transporting and sale of marijuana remains illegal under federal law even though Washington and Colorado have legalized it for recreational use by adults and 19 states have legalized it for medical uses.

If there is some direction from the federal government “we'd be smart to heed that” even that meant missing the Dec. 1 deadline established by I-502, Marr said.

State delay of marijuana rules likely

OLYMPIAWashington should revise its proposed rules to grow and sell recreational marijuana and delay adopting them by a couple of months, the staff of a state board recommended Tuesday.

The Washington State Liquor Control Board was scheduled vote Wednesday on the final rules needed to begin setting up the legal marijuana industry called for in last year’s successful voter initiative. But less than 24 hours before the meeting, the board’s staff urged a rewrite of the rules significant enough to require more review, and at least one more public hearing.

Among the rules the staff proposes adding are limits on the total production of legal marijuana in the state and the number of stores where the drug could be sold…

 

 

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, go inside the blog.

Legal pot rules criticized

OLYMPIAWashington’s proposed rules for growing and selling recreational marijuana were conflict with federal drug laws and state environmental laws, critics said Wednesday.

 

They would make the end product to be smoked or eaten too expensive from taxes, some said. They might favor the big corporations over the small producers, said others.

 

The Washington State Liquor Control Board, which is drafting rules to implement Initiative 502, is trying to get a final version of laws by mid September to start taking license applications from prospective retailers, processors and producers by October. Some cities and counties are balking…

 

 

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

 

The Washington State Liquor Control Board holds its final hearing on the latest draft of rules to grow, process or sell recreational marijuana in Spokane on Thursday at 6 p.m. at the Spokane Convention Center.

Sunday Spin: How nonsignificant is legal marijuana

OLYMPIA – As Washington develops rules for its new recreational marijuana industry, even the most casual observer might be hard pressed to argue this change isn’t significant.

We’re going to declare a truce in one theater of the War on Drugs, after all, and pull out of a long-standing alliance with Uncle Sam.

We’re going to let folks grow and sell pot if they follow a long list of rules and regs, file their paperwork, keep kids away from the plants in the fields and the brownies in the stores. And pay their taxes, of course, even if they have to hire armored cars to haul stacks of slightly aromatic bills into the Department of Revenue office.

So it may surprise some that the Washington State Liquor Control Board last month filed a “Determination of Nonsignificance”, or DNS, for the new system of rules it is putting together for legal marijuana. . . 

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

On marijuana, some questions are new. Some aren’t

LIFE magazine

Last week's Spin Control blog was admittedly a little light on content because I was working on Sunday's story about the trials and tribulations of getting Washington's recreational marijuana system up and running.

One of the more interesting interviews was with Mike Steenhout and Brian Smith of the Washington State Liquor Control Board. Steenhout is in charge of all the research the board needs to do to develop the rules and regs, and Smith is their chief spokesman.

Steenhout has collected an array of marijuana-related items and publications during the months he's been making an extensive study of the industry. Among them, on the table in his office,  was the Oct. 31, 1969 edition of LIFE magazine with the above cover, showing that folks have been asking the “Should it be legalized?” question for a long time. 

To read the story, or to comment, go inside the blog.

Legal marijuana hearing at convention center

A hearing on proposed state rules for growing, processing and selling legal marijuana will be held Aug. 8 at the Spokane Convention Center.

The Washington State Liquor Control Board scheduled four hearings from Aug. 6 through Aug. 8 around the state to get reaction to the latest est of proposed regulations for recreational marijuana, which voters approved by an initiative last November.

Hearings will also be in Shoreline, Olympia and Ellensburg.

The Spokane hearing will begin at 6 p.m. in Ballroom 100A of the Convention Center, 334 West Spokane Falls Blvd.

For a previous report on the proposed regulations, click here.

For a full copy of the proposed regulations, click on the document below.


Documents:

Marijuana hearing in Spokane

The Washington State Liquor Control Board will hold a hearing next month in Spokane on its new proposed regulations governing the production, processing and sale of recreational marijuana.

The hearing, the last of four the board will hold on regulations that got a tentative approval Wednesday, will be held at 6 p.m. on Aug. 8 at a place yet to be determined. The last marijuana hearing the board held in Spokane drew about 450 people to the Convention Center.

For a look at the latest version of the proposed rules, click on the document below.


Documents:

Outdoor grows in, marijuana logo out

Proposed logo scrapped, another one being developed

OLYMPIA — Washington will allow legal marijuana to be grown outside if it has adequate security, under new rules receiving preliminary approval today by a state board.

It might have an unlimited number of marijuana growers and processors, but a limited amount of stores where adults can buy the drug for recreational use. . . 

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, click here to go inside the blog.


Documents:

Marijuana consultant wants input from users, growers

OLYMPIA — Pot users, could you put down that joint for a few minutes and take a survey? Growers, could you stop tending the buds and hook up with the state's consultants for a little Q and A?

That's what the marijuana consultant for the Washington State Liquor Control Board is asking, although not quite in those terms.

The board, which is working on rules and regs for the state's new legalized marijuana production and consumption law, announced a couple of surveys to help with research the consultants at BOTEC Analysis Corporation are sponsoring.

One by the RAND Corporation is trying to gauge marijuana consumption throughout the state, with questions about how much used, what products, how much spent. “The survey will be the most detailed yet on cannabis use habits,” the board said on its list serve. It's described as confidential and short — no more than 15 minutes for heavy users, less for others. Not clear immediately clear if it will take heavy users longer because they have more questions to answer or because their response time is somewhat slowed from all that marijuana.

BOTEC is remaining mum on the survey to avoid doing or saying anything that would shape the responses.

Want to take the survey? Click here. 

BOTEC also is sponsoring a study of the economics of marijuana production by a public policy professor from Pepperdine University. She wants information from growers — especially those with the business sense and awareness of their books to provide substantive answers — to participate in a survey about their operating costs. That will also help with the contractor's eventual recommendations to the control board on production regulations.

It's confidential, too, which is a good thing considering that kind of information could get someone in legal trouble, with the feds if not the locals.

That survey can be found by clicking here. 

Marijuana rules: Grow inside, felons need not apply

Official logo for legal marijuana in Washington state, courtesy Washington State Liquor Control Board.

OLYMPIA — Anyone planning to grow legal marijuana in Washington should expect to do so inside, pass a tough background check and keep up with their paperwork.

The state agency setting new rules to comply with the voters’ decision to legalize recreational marijuana for adults released a 46-page draft of dos and don’ts Thursday for would be growers, processors and sellers of the drug.

Sellers would have to be at least 1,000 feet from schools, playgrounds, child care centers, public parks or libraries. Stores could have limited signage or advertising, with no views of products from the street. And absolutely no kids allowed in the stores, processing facilities or growing areas.

The Washington State Liquor Control Board will be taking public comments on the proposal through June 10 before issuing final rules. . .

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, or for a link to the complete draft of the Liquor Control Board Rules, continue inside the blog.

Setting rules to ban smoking pot in bars

OLYMPIA — The Washington State Liquor Control Board started the process to set a new rule ban the use of marijuana in bars.

One might say that Initiative 502, which legalized marijuana use by adults, was pretty clear about that by saying it's illegal to open a package of marijuana or have “useable marijuana” in view of the general public. But a couple of bars, including one in Olympia, have been allowing customers to smoke marijuana in special rooms set aside as private clubs. 

Not surprisingly, this has raised some concerns from law enforcement about people who consume both marijuana and products dispensed by the bar, then try to make their way home on the highways and byways.

The liquor board must go through several steps to craft such a rule, which can be seen by clicking here. The board is taking public comments until May 10.

Pot forum moved to Convention Center

Anticipating a large crowd at Tuesday’s forum on legalized marijuana rules, a state agency made an 11th hour decision to move to a bigger room.

The Washington State Liquor Control Board’s forum on its efforts to comply with Initiative 502 will be held in the Spokane Convention Center, starting at 6 p.m. Tuesday.. A spokesman for the board said agency officials feared the Spokane City Council Chambers, which holds about 190 people in the basement of Spokane City Hall, wouldn’t be big enough.

The three previous forums all generated crowds bigger than the Council Chambers and an overflow room for 100 people would have held, Mikhail Carpenter said. More than 350 people showed up for the first forum in Olympia, about 500 attended the Seattle forum and about 400 were at the Vancouver forum.

The convention center ballroom will hold 450, and can be expanded if necessary.

The board announced new locations for other planned forums, and added new meetings to its schedule early last week. But the new location for Spokane wasn’t nailed down until late Friday. Because of that, a story in Sunday’s Spokesman-Review and three newspaper ads about the forum all had the old address.

Carpenter said the board hopes to a sign at City Hall directing people to the Convention Center, which is several blocks east on Spokane Falls Boulevard

I-502 made the private use of marijuana by people 21 and over legal, but currently there's not a legal way to purchase the drug. The law put  the board in charge of adopting rules for growing, processing and selling marijuana, with a mandate to have those rules in place by Dec. 1.

Listen in on legalized marijuana forum

The Washington State Liquor Control Board held its first public forum last night in Olympia on efforts to get ready for legalized marijuana under the new voter-approved law.

It got an earful, for more than 2  hours. Expect more of the same as they travel around the state, including a stop in Spokane on Feb. 12 at Spokane City Hall. 

If you want to listen to last night's testimony, they have a recording online. Just click here to be connected.

WA Lege Day 8: More questions, some answers, on legalized pot

OLYMPIA – In legalizing marijuana last fall, voters created more questions for the Legislature, not fewer.

Some, including how the federal government is going to react, can’t be answered yet, officials from the State Liquor Control Board told the Senate committee Monday.

Law and Justice Committee Chairman Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, said he’s heard concerns that any revenue the state collects from taxes on growing, processing or selling marijuana could be seized by the Justice Department under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations, or RICO, statutes. Is that possible, he asked. . .

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, click here to go inside the blog.

Legalized marijuana hearing set for Spokane

OLYMPIA — One of the state's six hearings on how things are going with the legalization of marijuana in Washington is set for Spokane next month.

The Washington State Liquor Control Board, which is working on ways to set up legal production of marijuana, will hold the fourth of its forums in the Spokane City Council Chambers on Feb. 12. Other forums will be in Olympia, Seattle, Vancouver, Mount Vernon and Yakima during January and February.

The forums will start with an open house at 6 p.m., then a welcome and overview from the board at 7 p.m. The board will stay until 10 p.m. to hear comments and suggestions from the public.

The board is also putting together a list of questions and answers, as well as the tentative timeline to get all its work done as required by law on Dec. 1. Information on that can be found here. 

Plenty of ideas on how to regulate marijuana growers

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 of weeds, bugs or mold. Still other 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. . .

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, click here to go inside the blog.

To send a comment or suggestion to the Washington State Liquor Control Board on regulations to govern the production of legal marijuana, click here.