Washington Bars Allowing Marijuana Use Could Face Penalties

Apr 3, 2013

Pot possession is now legal in Washington. But state regulators are drawing the line at marijuana use in bars.

Initiative 502 allows people to possess marijuana for recreational use in Washington state. But state law still bans marijuana use in public. It’s considered a civil infraction punishable by a $103 fine. There are no specific penalties, however, for business owners who promote the use of marijuana in their establishments.

Now, the Washington State Liquor Control Board – which has oversight of marijuana as well -- plans to change that.

Press reports have described at least two bars, Stonegate in Tacoma and Frankie’s in Olympia, that have established clubs for marijuana use since I-502 passed. Washington regulators clearly want to crack down on those efforts. They say they want to emphasize that public consumption of marijuana is still illegal.

They’re also worried that allowing people to mix alcohol and marijuana could result in more impaired drivers. The agency expects to gather comments and implement new rules for bar owners this summer.

Copyright 2013 KUOW