Just shy of a year after voters approved an initiative legalizing recreational marijuana in Washington, the state Liquor Control Board has approved the final rules that will regulate the licensing and operation of marijuana growers, processors and sellers.
The board will begin taking license applications Nov. 18 and stores are expected to open by next summer. As the board announced last month, there will be no limit on how many growers and processors can operate, but retail locations will be limited. Across the state, 334 stores will be licensed, with 18 allowed in Spokane County including eight in the city of Spokane. Between the four counties that border Spokane, another 12 will be allowed.
The rule approval comes after multiple hearings in cities across the state, half-answered questions about federal enforcement and city governments' efforts to figure out how they'll handle the new market. You can peruse the full state rules at the bottom of this post and there is much more on the Liquor Control Board's 502-dedicated site. The basics for consumers are:
- If you're 21 or older, you'll be able to buy "one ounce of useable marijuana, 16 ounces of marijuana infused product in solid form or 72 ounces of marijuana infused product in liquid form" by sometime next spring or summer.
- The state initially estimated it would cost you about $12 a gram (before taxes), but has since hired an analysis firm, BOTEC, which has estimated consumers could pay between $17 and $25 a gram ($482 to $723 an ounce), though that's still just a prediction. Check out this head-spinning report about all the unknowns. Visit the state's page on priceofweed.com to see that those estimates are between twice and five times as much as what Washington users are paying now. (This remains one of the biggest unanswered questions about this experiment. The state is banking on consumers being willing to pay more for the security and quality of regulated pot. Critics worry high taxes and regulatory costs will allow the black market to continue to thrive.)
- Spokane will allow stores in the colored areas of this map.
- No one knows where these new businesses will store their money.
- And there are still few answers on how the whole thing will affect the currently largely unregulated medical marijuana market in the state. A state workgroup will make recommendations to the Legislature about that question by Jan. 1. (Email your thoughts about harmonizing the two markets to email@example.com.)
Adopted Rules 10-16-13