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Groups, lawmakers getting down to the details on legal marijuana

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on March 12, 2013 at 7:31 am |
March 12, 2013 10:36 am

UPDATE 10:30 a.m.: House Government and Oversight Committee Chairman Chris Hurst today proposed a 500-foot rule to replace the rule in pot-legalizing Initiative 502 to keep marijuana stores at least 1,000 feet from schools, parks, community centers and other areas where children might gather.

“The 1,000 foot rule, of course, just doesn’t work,” he said in an interview. “There won’t be a market.”

Other changes he is proposing in House Bill 2000 would give more authority to the Liquor Control Board that is setting the rules for marijuana growers and sellers.

The bill would replace a fixed $1,000 fine for violators with a schedule of fines set by the board. And it would replace a fixed $1,000 price for a permit for growers and sellers with “a selling price that yields no less than the fair market value of the certificate, as determined by the board.” That could be determined by regional auctions of permits or some other means, he said.

House Democrats largely seem to support the ideas, said Hurst, an Enumclaw Democrat, but he said he wouldn’t pursue them without near-unanimous support, and he’s willing to make changes.

Hurst said they need to be put in place now before the liquor board starts handing out permits. “It’s going to be hard to change the rules once they start this permitting process,” he said.

ORIGINAL POST:

The authors of the voter-approved pot-legalization initiative are joining hands with public health advocates to lobby for strict regulations on the about-to-be-legal marijuana growing industry.MEDICAL MARIJUANA

The American Civil Liberties Union and others wrote a letter Monday to the Liquor Control Board (below), which is writing the rules. They laid out their advice, including to “start small” on the amount of marijuana expected to be produced, and what they see as good and bad ideas for the industry.

Good: a ban on certain kinds of advertising or even a blanket ban on all ads. Bad: Incentives that encourage big business to enter the market at the expense of small growers.

The groups say they’re glad the liquor board is “already taking a close look at tracking systems” on pot and plants. Those are intended to avoid marijuana slipping across state borders or going to minors.

Meanwhile, the chairman of the House committee overseeing marijuana, Chris Hurst, is unveiling proposed changes to Initiative 502 today. Last week, he said he had been in talks with the liquor board and was wrestling with three problems he perceives with the initiative:

  • Too-easy treatment of violators of the law. He said the liquor board should be able to set higher fines as they do with alcohol.
  • Too-strict rules on where marijuana stores can locate. Under I-502 they must be at least 1,000 feet away from a host of areas where children might gather.
  • Too-low costs of licenses. Hurst said he was trying to work out whether the cost of licenses should be maintained at $1,000 or raised to what the market would bear.

This post will be updated after Hurst’s noon press conference.

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