Friday, September 25, 2015

New rules allow for more marijuana businesses

The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) this week adopted emergency rules and issued new draft rules to begin the public process of aligning the medical marijuana market with the existing recreational market. The Board’s actions are the result of 2015 legislation, the Cannabis Patient Protection Act, which established a system for licensing existing medical marijuana outlets. The emergency rules, which are effective immediately, allow the WSLCB to begin the process of licensing medical marijuana outlets as new retail outlets that may sell both medical and recreational marijuana. Existing recreational stores may also apply for an endorsement to sell both.

Outlet Density
There will not be an initial cap on the number of retail licenses that will be approved by the WSLCB. Previously, the number of retail stores to be licensed by the WSLCB was capped, similar to the cap on liquor stores prior to privatization. This cap was a component of a more tightly regulated market supporting public health goals. Public health research repeatedly shows that when communities are home to a large number of alcohol and tobacco outlets, teenagers tend to use alcohol and tobacco at higher than average rates.

The new rules also include the ability for local jurisdictions, such as Seattle, to permit licensing of marijuana businesses within 1,000 feet but not less than 100 feet from recreation centers, child care centers, public parks, public transit centers, libraries, and game arcades. Businesses must still be at least 1,000 feet away from elementary and secondary schools as well as playgrounds.

Public Hearings
In November, the public may comment in person on the draft rules at six evening public hearings scheduled throughout the state. A public hearing will be held in Seattle on November 16.Tentative times and locations for the public hearings are available in the public hearing section of the WSLCB website.  

Comments may also be sent to the WSLCB by November 19:
Rules Coordinator
Liquor & Cannabis Board
PO Box 43080
Olympia, WA 98504-3080

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