Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board Issues Marijuana Rules, Announces Retail License Application Schedule

WASHINGTON:

The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) today 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 priority system for licensing existing medical marijuana outlets. The emergency rules, which are effective immediately, allow the WSLCB to begin the process of licensing new retail outlets that may sell both medical and recreational marijuana. Existing recreational stores may also apply for an endorsement to sell both.

“If phase one was implementation of the recreational marijuana marketplace then today marks the beginning of phase two — the public process of aligning the medical marijuana system with the existing recreational system,” said Board Chair Jane Rushford.

Priority Criteria
The WSLCB will begin accepting retail license applications on Oct. 12, 2015. Applicants will be processed for licensure prioritized as established in law. There will not be an initial cap on the number of retail licenses that will be approved by the WSLCB. Medical marijuana outlets, also known as dispensaries, must be licensed by July 1, 2016 or face closure by local authorities. In addition, non-retail cooperatives which consist of up to four persons who grow for personal medical use, may register with the WSLCB after July 1, 2016.

  1. First priority will be applicants who applied for a marijuana retail license prior to July 1, 2014, operated (or were employed by) a collective garden prior to January 1, 2013, have maintained a state and local business license and have a history of paying state taxes.
  2. Second priority will be applicants who operated (or were employed by) a collective garden prior to January 1, 2013, have maintained a state and local business license, and have a history of paying state taxes and fees.
  3. Third priority will be applicants who do not meet the requirements for priority one or priority two.

Public Hearings
In November, the public may comment in person on the draft rules at six evening public hearings scheduled throughout the state. Currently scheduled dates and locations include:

  • Nov. 3             Spokane
  • Nov. 4             Ellensburg
  • Nov. 9             Vancouver
  • Nov. 12           Tacoma
  • Nov. 16           Seattle
  • Nov. 19           Everett

Tentative times and locations for the public hearings are available in the Public Hearing Schedule section of the WSLCB website at lcb.wa.gov.

Production Restrictions Eased
In a separate action, the WSLCB will today notify existing producers that the restriction of their license to grow at 70 percent of capacity has been lifted. Following WSLCB staff approval, licensed producers may grow to 100 percent of capacity, limited to a single license. Previously, growers were restricted to keep production within the estimated limits of the recreational market to prevent over-production and diversion of product out of state.

Preventing diversion is one of eight enforcement guidelines issued by United States Department of Justice in a memo to states which choose to legalize marijuana. The WSLCB has temporarily lifted the restriction to allow licensed producers to meet the demand expected with the opening of new retail stores. A new cap will be applied at a later date.

Diego Pellicer Faces Subpoena, Other Problems In Marijuana Biz

WASHINGTON:  The Top 5 Things You Don’t Want to Say when introducing a new public company might be:

No. 5. We’ve received a subpoena from the U.S. Attorney.

No. 4. We’ve only got one real paying customer.

No. 3. We’re not sure when we can actually collect any money from that customer.

No. 2. We’re lending money to keep that customer running.

No. 1. We’re not sure what the U.S. Attorney wants, but in the worst-case scenario, our officers could be imprisoned and our investors hosed.

Diego Pellicer Worldwide, the company that says it’s “developing the world’s first ‘premium’ marijuana brand,” acknowledged those issues last week deep in its first regulatory filing after merging into a public shell company.

Washington’s Pot Label Rules Could Ease Problems

WASHINGTON: When recreational marijuana stores open in Washington next month, state officials know many customers will be unfamiliar with the strength of the newly legal drug.

They hope strict rules on labeling and packaging will help avoid some of the overdose problems recently reported in Colorado, the only other state where recreational marijuana use is legal. But they also will launch a public education program to encourage responsible use.

“We know there will be people buying for the first time or the first time in a long time,” said Brian Smith, a spokesman for the state Liquor Control Board.

The potency of marijuana has increased in recent years as strains of the plant have been developed with higher levels of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the chemical that produces the euphoric “high.”

Clark County WA Commissioners Ban Recreational Marijuana Facilities Outside City Limits

WASHINGTON: The Clark County Board of Commissioners approved a ban Tuesday on the processing, production and sale of marijuana within its jurisdiction despite statewide legalization.

Commissioners David Madore and Tom Mielke affirmed the ordinance, effectively banning retail marijuana businesses from taking root on unincorporated land. They cited federal law outlawing marijuana as a motivating factor in making their decision.

“It’s important to recognize we’re an arm of the state government and the federal government,” Mielke said. “And the state and the federal are not in agreement.”

The ban is similar to one passed this year by Pierce County. The ordinance calls for marijuana processing and sales to remain off limits on county land unless the federal government legalizes it. That comes despite the passage of Initiative 502, approved by voters in 2012, which legalized the production and retail sale of marijuana.

The commissioners’ decision Tuesday was expected by many. Commissioners had long voiced their opposition to marijuana businesses’ developing on county land. State Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s written decision this year that local jurisdictions could ban recreational marijuana businesses added clarity to the process.

Mielke Tuesday said allowing marijuana sales would add strain on county resources, including law enforcement. A lively crowd that filled the commissioners’ boardroom Tuesday disagreed, at times loudly and profanely. Late in the meeting, sheriff’s deputies were called to the boardroom to observe the proceedings.

Women In Cannabis: Solidarity And High-Potency Sorbet

WASHINGTON: A power luncheon for women in the marijuana business took place Friday in one of Seattle’s highest locations – the top of the Columbia Tower, where dozens of women in the cannabis business gathered to talk shop and exchange recipes.

A.C. Braddock is CEO of Eden Labs, which makes extraction equipment. These days 90 percent of her business is from clients making high-potency marijuana concentrates.

“Pretty much all of our clients are men,” Braddock said, “which is great, I love men, nothing wrong with men, but my interaction with women over the years has become smaller and smaller until this group.”

Braddock said the women entrepreneurs at this lunch really do bring a different vision for legal marijuana in Washington.

Reports Of Problems Vex Washington Pot Lottery

WASHINGTON: Andrew Elliott is hoping to score one of the golden tickets of Washington’s legal marijuana industry: a license to sell pot, granted in part on a series of high-tech lotteries held this week.

He almost didn’t get a shot. Just days before the lotteries began, the state’s Liquor Control Board informed him he had been disqualified because his proposed pot shop in Seattle’s Queen Anne neighborhood was too close to an area frequented by children — a game arcade which, it turns out, doesn’t exist.

Thanks to quick work by his lawyer, Stephanie Boehl, the board agreed at the last minute to put Elliott back in the Seattle lottery. But some others disqualified haven’t been so lucky.

Interviews with applicants and their attorneys detail a number of reported problems, from one rejection based on a typo to potential issues with the state’s software to technicalities that torpedoed what might otherwise have been strong applications.

Most troubling, they say, is that some people weren’t informed until this week, after the lotteries had started, that they’d been disqualified, leaving them no meaningful way to appeal what might have been mistaken decisions by the board.