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How Should Yakima Handle the State’s New Marijuana Law? [MAYOR'S BLOG]

Los Angeles To Not Enforce Ban On Marijuana Dispensaries
Photo by David McNew/Getty Images

We truly are living in historical times. I never would have thought that I would have a hand in deciding how the City of Yakima handles the implementation of the new marijuana law. The State has a long list of rules and process that will be in place by the end of the year.

One of the major hurdles in this debate has been the position of the federal government. Marijuana is still considered an illegal drug under federal law. In a major change in drug policy, the Justice Department said that it won’t sue to stop the states of Colorado and Washington from allowing recreational marijuana use.

The question in front of cities is how to handle zoning of marijuana grows, taxation and implementation and of course enforcement of recreational use of marijuana.

Here is the latest from the State on timelines and implementation of the new law. I will also keep you posted on what happens at today’s Yakima City Council study session.

OLYMPIA – The Washington State Liquor Control Board (Board) today approved the filing of proposed supplemental rules that, if ultimately enacted, will help govern Washington State’s system of producing, processing and retailing recreational marijuana. The Board earlier this summer filed proposed rules on July 3, 2013. The Board chose to revise and re-file its rules after receiving public input at five public hearings across Washington.

“These rules fulfill the public expectation of creating a tightly-regulated and controlled system while providing reasonable access to participation in the market, said Board Chair Sharon Foster. “Importantly, we believe these rules meet the eight federal government enforcement priorities within Thursday’s guidance memo from the Department of Justice.”

Key Public Safety Elements

Public safety is the top priority of the Washington State Liquor Control Board.

All grows must meet strictly controlled on-site security requirements;
Strict surveillance and transportation requirements;
Robust traceability software system that will track inventory from start to sale;
Criminal background checks on all license applicants;
Tough penalty guidelines for public safety violations including loss of license;
Restricting certain advertising that may be targeted at children.

Key Consumer Safety Elements

The proposed rules provide a heightened level of consumer safety that has not existed previously.

Packaging and label requirements including dosage and warnings;
Child-resistant packaging for marijuana in solid and liquid forms;
Only lab tested and approved products will be available;
Defined serving sizes and package limits on marijuana in solid form;
Store signage requirements to educate customers.

Revisions to the Rules

Below are selected highlights found in the revised rules.

Production Limits

Sets the maximum amount of space for marijuana production at two million square feet
Two million square feet equates to 40 metric tons of useable marijuana and 40 metric tons of production for concentrates.

Production Tiers

Creates three production tiers based on square footage
Tier 1 – less than 2000 square feet
Tier 2 – 2000 to 10,000 square feet
Tier 3 – 10,000 to 30,000 square feet

Market Control Limits

Limited any entity and/or principals within any entity to three producer or processor licenses
Limited any principal and or entity to no more than three retail licenses with no multiple location licensee allowed more than 33 percent of the allowed licenses in any county or city

On-Site Product Limits

Established the maximum amount of marijuana allowed on a producer licensee’s premises at any time based on the type of grow operation (indoor, outdoor, greenhouse)

1,000 Foot Buffer Measurement

Changed the way the 1,000 foot buffer is measured from to “along the most direct route over or across established public walks, streets, or other public passageway between the proposed building/business locations to the perimeter of the grounds of the entities listed”

Definitions

Added a definition for “plant canopy” to clarify what area is considered in the square footage calculation for marijuana producers
Revised the definition of “Public Park” to include parks owned or managed by a metropolitan park district. Clarified that trails are not included in the definition of “Public Park ”
Revised the definition of “recreation center or facility.” Added the language “owned and/or managed by a charitable non-profit organization, city, county, state, or federal government”

Advertising

Added language requiring all advertising and labels of useable marijuana and marijuana infused products may not contain any statement or illustration that is false or misleading.

Retail Stores

In addition to the revisions to the rules, the Board today also identified the number and allocation of retail stores. Per Initiative 502, the WSLCB applied a method that allocates retail store locations using Office of Financial Management (OFM) population with a cap on the number of retail stores per county.

Using OFM population data as well as adult consumption data supplied by the state’s marijuana consultant – BOTEC Analysis Corporation — the Board allocated a maximum of 334 outlets statewide. The most populous cities within the county are allocated a proportionate number of stores and at-large stores available to serve other areas of the county.

Timeline

December 6, 2012
Effective date of new law

September 4, 2013
File Supplemental CR 102 with revised proposed rules

October 9, 2013
Public hearing(s) on proposed rules (time and location TBD)

October 16, 2013
Board adopts or rejects proposed rules (CR 103)

November 16, 2013
Rules become effective

November 18, 2013
Begin accepting applications for all three licenses (30-day window)

December 1, 2013
Deadline for rules to be complete (as mandated by law)

December 18, 2013
30-day window closes for producer, processor and retailer license applications

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