OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Officials in Washington state approved draft rules Wednesday for the state’s new marijuana industry, establishing regulations for pot producers and retailers and setting the stage for legal recreational marijuana use to begin early next year.
Four public meetings on the proposed rules will be held across the state Aug. 6-8, and the rules are scheduled to take effect Sept. 16.
At that point, the Washington Liquor Control Board will begin accepting applications for marijuana producers, processers and retailers.
The draft rules create a tightly controlled, well-regulated market that allows for public safety and protects children from marijuana advertising but still leaves room for changes in the future, chairwoman Sharon Foster said.
The Liquor Control Board released preliminary draft rules in late May after board staff members spent long hours visiting marijuana grow houses and studying the science of pot.
The draft rules approved Wednesday included several changes.
The rules now allow for marijuana to be grown outdoors, with secure fencing and surveillance, rather than limiting production to indoor facilities. They clarify that anyone who finances a marijuana business must have been a Washington state resident for three months. The rules also remove requirements for a signed affidavit from a landlord to operate a marijuana business.
Last fall, voters made Washington and Colorado the first states to legalize the sale of taxed marijuana to adults over 21 at state-licensed stores.
In Colorado, devising rules for the pot industry fell to the Legislature. The state has approved a series of bills laying out how marijuana should be grown, packaged and taxed.
In Washington, that job fell to the state Liquor Control Board.
Under the rules, people may possess up to an ounce of dried marijuana; 16 ounces of a pot-infused solid, such as brownies; or 72 ounces of a pot-infused liquid, such as tea.
Marijuana sales in Washington should begin in early 2014, unless the Justice Department steps in to prevent them. Pot remains illegal federally, and the DOJ could sue to try to block the licensing schemes in Washington and Colorado from taking effect.
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