(Photo : flickr.com)
As of Wednesday, Washington became the second state in the country to legalize sales of marijuana for recreational use, following Colorado.
According to a report from Bustle.com, after almost a year of research and planning, the state's Liquor Control Board (WSLCB) adopted a set of rules for legal marijuana sales, which take effect on Nov. 18 when applications to run pot stores will begin being accepted.
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Although the legislation is decidedly comprehensive, the rules were designed to create a bustling legal pot market without causing any threat to public safety.
"We feel very proud of what we're doing...we are making history," WSLCB chairwoman Sharon Foster told reporters. "Over these last several months we have put together a...system of rules which will serve as the foundation for this new industry. This has been a very open process with public involvement each step of the way."
The Washington Post reports that under these new rules the board will issue licenses to allow up to 334 marijuana stores across the state. Those stores are slated to open mid-2014. The marijuana will be highly taxed and total production in the state will be capped at 80 tons.
Advocates of the new law say they expect to see this new pot industry bring tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars into the state's economy through taxes. It's being reported that much of this extra revenue will be utilized for public health and drug-abuse prevention.
According to reports, the approved set of rules are very similar to those adopted in Colorado. There are minor differences, however. For example, in Washington growing pot at home is prohibited while people living in Colorado are allowed up to six home grown plants. Also, in Colorado, stores are allowed to sell recreational as well as medicinal marijuana at the same site. Washington, however, mandates that medical and recreational marijuana stores remain separate, as medical marijuana is not regulated in the state.
The Associated Press has published a report that details the rest of the rules that will regulate Washington's recreational marijuana industry.
According to that report, people in the state can obtain licenses to grow, process or sell marijuana--but not all three--and proof of state residency is required for all licenses. A limit has been set that will allow individuals to obtain a maximum of three licenses. The licenses will cost approximately $250 each and there will be annual renewal fees of $1,000 per license.
Additionally, officials will track the marijuana "from seed-to-sale" in order to prevent any intrusion from the black market. There will also be stringent security measures required, including surveillance and alarm systems for every marijuana store.
Finally, childproof packaging will be required for marijuana products and these products must be affixed with labels detailing the strength of the marijuana and dangers associated with its use. Advertising to individuals under age 21 will also be banned.
According to NBC News the U.S. Justice Department, although it has made very clear that it opposes legal marijuana sales, has said it will not sue either state over the legalization decisions.
"As with medical marijuana dispensaries, federal policy is to look the other way," the news outlet noted.