Public gives input on marijuana legalization
Washington State Liquor Control Board heard public feedback on the legalization of marijuana at Greater Tacoma Convention and Trade Center on Feb. 21. A number of current growers and sellers wish to remain in the picture when retail sales, as authorized by passage of Initiative 502 last November, begin for recreational use of the substance.
This was the sixth in a series of meetings being held around the state. Board member Ruthann Kurose said public safety and preventing youth access to marijuana are major priorities. The state wants to generate revenue from marijuana sales to spend on education, health care and other pressing needs. “We realize the gravity of our role,” Kurose said. “There will be three tiers of licenses, for producers, processors and retailers. The state does not plan to allow an individual to hold licenses in all three categories.”
Dawn Darington grew loud applause when she urged the board not to restrict legal growing to a few major operations.
One speaker said a separate board with authority over cannabis should set guidelines, rather than leaving marijuana regulation up to the existing board that oversees alcohol.
Priscilla Lisicich, executive director of Safe Streets, expressed concerns that youth will think marijuana use is acceptable because of its legalization for adults. She said she wants strict rules on revoking licenses for retailers caught selling to youth. Lisicich wants bans on advertising and product samples. She also wants labels about health risks, as is done on packs of cigarettes and bottles of liquor.
Jason Gutz belongs to a Safe Streets group where he lives near the intersection of South 72nd Street and Pacific Avenue. He said he wants revenue from marijuana sales to fund local police. He also expressed concern that dealers may sell tax-free marijuana at lower prices than what is sold in stores on the streets near retail outlets.
Michael Schaeff, a participant in the local medical marijuana market, expressed concern that people from out of state would try to secure many of the available licenses.
Glen Davis of Renton pondered whether prices would be equal around the state, or if they would vary from urban to rural areas.
Several speakers asked the board to establish a process to screen marijuana for pesticides and fungicides.
Leslie Peoples said that at certain times of year, large amounts of California weed sent here meets market demand, forcing Washington growers to sell their crop in other states.
She suggested a cap on producers of 1,000 plants per license. People with criminal records for growing marijuana should not be prohibited from obtaining licenses, she added.
Peoples wants Washington to be known for high-quality marijuana, a product held in high regard along with the state’s wines and microbrews. “We in Washington must be visionaries to the future.”
Jack Howell urged the board not to go too far on regulations. “My concern is you are going to restrict this stuff out of existence.”
The board plans to have draft rules for producers in April and to begin issuing licenses in August. Draft rules for processor and retailer licenses should be done in June.
Letter to the Editor
If you would like to contact us directly, please submit a Letter to the Editor here.