State Liquor Control Board approves new rules for marijuana market

Published on Wed, Sep 4, 2013
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Shortly after an announcement from the Department of Justice giving the green light to state marijuana laws in Washington and Colorado, the Washington State Liquor Control Board approved the filing of supplemental rules aimed at governing a system of producing, processing and retailing recreational marijuana.
The board proposed the rules earlier this summer, but chose to revise and re-file the rules after receiving input at five public hearings across Washington. They announced their approval on September 4.
"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."
The rules include public safety elements and consumer safety elements. For example, all growing operations will have to meet strictly controlled on-site security requirements, with surveillance and transportation requirements, robust software to track inventory from start to sale, criminal background checks on all license applicants and tough penalty guidelines. Advertising will be restricted so as not to target children. Labels will include dosage information and warnings, and packaging will be child-resistant. Only lab-tested and approved products will be available, and only in well-defined serving sizes and packaging limits.

Some notable revisions added to the rules include a statewide production limit set at 40 metric tons, statewide space for marijuana production capped at 2 million feet and a limit of three producer or processor licenses to any entity or principals within any entity.

Here are more highlights of the rules:

  • Production Limits set the maximum amount of space for marijuana production at two million square feet.
  • Three production tiers divide businesses based on square footage:

              o   Tier 1 – less than 2000 square feet
              o   Tier 2 – 2000 to 10,000 square feet
              o   Tier 3 – 10,000 to 30,000 square feet  

  • Market Control Limits limit any entity and/or principals within any entity to three producer or processor licenses, and limit 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 establish 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 changes the way the 1,000 foot buffer is measured 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: adds 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 Store: 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.
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
Public Hearings
One or more public hearings on the proposed rules will be scheduled soon. Dates and locations of those hearings, as well as summary documents, frequently asked questions, the allocation of retail stores and other documents can be found on the WSLCB at 


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