Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Seattle City Attorney's comments to the Liquor Control Board include pot tourism and private pot clubs

The Liquor Control Board received more than 800 comments from the public regarding their initial draft rules for I-502 (marijuana legalization).  The letter from Prevention WINS may be viewed through the coalition website.

The Seattle City Attorney's letter is also available online and includes the following comments:

Promote Pot Tourism
We also support the Board's decision to permit nonresidents to purchase one ounce of marijuana at a retail store.  People travel to Washington for many reasons, and tourism is a significant industry within Seattle and throughout the state.  We want tourists to enjoy our beautiful outdoors, fresh produce, microbrews, fine wines, professional sports and entertainment.  We should similarly embrace marijuana tourism.  However, retailers must not oversell to non-residents so that marijuana might be taken across state lines.  I-502 does not prohibit nonresidents from traveling to Washington, purchasing marijuana from a licensed retailer, or consuming marijuana in the state, but we support Governor Inslee's promise that Washington State will not become "the country's export market for marijuana."  We need a strong partnership with law enforcement to extinguish the illegal market and properly regulate the new legal market. 

Public Consumption of Marijuana
I-502 prohibits opening "a package containing marijuana . . . in view of the general public."  It is not clear whether this limits marijuana use only to private residences or also allows it in establishments that may be private and not "in view of the general public" because the phrase "in view of the general public" is not defined in I-502.  For renters and tourists, allowing marijuana use in certain types of establishments other than private residences may be the only mechanism to enjoy marijuana.  This is both a race & social justice and an economic development issue.  Renters and tourists should not be forced to use marijuana in parks or on sidewalks.  We recommend that the Board study private clubs or similar accommodations and propose appropriate rules governing their establishment and regulation.  

Home Delivery of Marijuana
A careful reading of I-502 suggests that bicycle and truck deliveries are neither expressly permitted or prohibited.  We recommend that the Board study deliver services and propose draft regulatory rules.  

Retail Outlet Density
If like state liquor stores there will only be a limited number of retail stores, we may want to ensure better geographical coverage.  

Funding Needed
Finally, local governments must be able to share in the State's revenue.  Implementing and enforcing I-502 will be a costly venture for government at all levels from business licensing and zoning to law enfocement and other public health and safety considerations.  

Comments to the Liquor Control Board from King County may be read by clicking here.

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