The Daily Mash-Up

Wednesday, October 07, 2015 This Week's Paper
State set to crack down on ‘pot bars’

The Washington State Liquor Control Board opened a rule-making talk today to address consumption of marijuana in liquor licensed establishments, like the Stonegate in South Tacoma.

Section 21 of Initiative 502 states: It is unlawful to open a package containing marijuana, useable marijuana, or a marijuana-infused product, or consume marijuana, useable marijuana, or a marijuana-infused product, in view of the general public.

A person who violates this section is guilty of a Class 3 civil infraction of a $103 fine that would be imposed on the customer. However, the law does not address enforcement penalties for the licensee for allowing a prohibited practice, such as they do under state liquor laws.

The Stonegate and Frankie's Sports Bar in Olympia are allowing patrons to either smoke, vaporize or otherwise ingest marijuana on the premises after paying a nominal membership fee that does not, they argue, make the premise a "public place."

Stonegate owner Jeff Call said he has yet to be contacted about his establishment's Vape Club. For the last two months, Stonegate patrons have been allowed to buy memberships, for as little as $1, that allow them to enter the upstairs lounge and inhale the vapor from marijuana-infused oil.

No marijuana products are sold on premises at the Stonegate. But medical marijuana card holders can obtain them from the Green Light Expo, a collective cannabis garden across the street.

"I don't think we're breaking any laws," Call said. "We're doing it in private, and there's no smoke."

“It is important that the board clarify now that consuming marijuana in a state liquor-licensed establishment is not acceptable,” said Board Chair Sharon Foster. “Public consumption of marijuana is clearly illegal under Washington’s new law.”

In addition to the prohibition on public consumption, the board is concerned there may be public safety considerations for mixing alcohol and marijuana in liquor licensed locations such as over service and increased impaired driving.

Filing a CR 101, which formally opens the rule-making process, the Board will begin taking public input on the topic of consumption of marijuana at licensed locations.

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