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Lawmakers ask liquor board to put the brakes on marijuana regulations

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on Jan. 9, 2013 at 11:30 am with No Comments »
January 28, 2013 6:28 pm

 UPDATED at 7 p.m. to reflect Hurst wants to devote some, not all, marijuana proceeds to education.

Three House Democrats from King County have asked the Liquor Control Board to slow down implementing pot-legalizing Initiative 502.

The request, first reported by Seattle Times editorial writer Jonathan Martin, comes from a trio of committee chairmen – Chris Hurst of Enumclaw, whose panel oversees marijuana, plus Ross Hunter of Medina, the lead budget writer, and Reuven Carlyle of Seattle, who leads on taxes.

The board is moving toward writing regulations for marijuana growers, processors and sellers. It is considering hiring more staff and contracting with a consultant — spending that the lawmakers said should be delayed.

The lawmakers wrote that the agency has an “aggressive timeline” for licensing marijuana producers, and called for more involvement by the Legislature. They cite strapped budgets and warn the state could be wasting money if the federal government tries to shut down the regulatory scheme, also raising the possibility that the U.S. Justice Department could prosecute state employees over the regulations.

Hurst said in an interview he is confident the Legislature will make changes to the initiative this year, even though it will require two-thirds super-majorities in the House and Senate.

Among his goals: to raise the cost of a license far higher than the $1,000 set by the initiative, and to divert some of the proceeds of marijuana taxes and fees to education. Most of them are now slated to fund health care programs.

A liquor-board spokesman said officials would meet with Hurst while continuing to move forward.

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