marijuana legalization

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

Washington Governor Jay Inslee says he is surprised and disappointed medical marijuana regulation died in the state Legislature this year. 

Washington’s voter-approved effort to legalize recreational marijuana reached a major milestone.

This summer marijuana stores will open for business across Washington. The new legal pot market is modeled on a system the state adopted 80 years ago when prohibition ended. If there are other parallels between the legalization of alcohol then and marijuana today.

Oregon lawmakers convened Monday for a whirlwind 35-day session. But the thorniest topics were largely absent from the opening day festivities.

Pot, guns and liquor. Those are a few of the issues facing Oregon lawmakers as they return to the state capitol Monday for a five-week legislative session.

Leaders of the Yakama Nation say they see little benefit to sales or farming of legalized marijuana on their traditional lands. And the tribes are making moves to prevent anyone from operating a pot business on an area that adds up to one-fifth of the state’s land mass.

When legal recreational marijuana sales begin later this year in Washington, it’s likely the majority of sales of pot will still be through the black market.

As Washington moves to legalize recreational pot, preventing “leakage” to other states like Oregon and Idaho is a top priority of the U.S. Justice Department

First, it was Washington and Colorado. Now, Oregon could be on the list of states where recreational marijuana use is legal.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

The 30-day window for marijuana business licenses applications is open in Washington. Would-be growers, processors and retailers applied on line and in-person Monday. So far the Department of Revenue reports nearly 300 completed on line applications. Olympia Correspondent Austin Jenkins spoke with a couple of the first applicants.

Pot entrepreneurs in Washington can apply for a business license beginning next Monday. The state now has a team of 14 license investigators ready to vet the applicants.

Labs Worry As Pot Testing Standards Lag

Oct 1, 2013
Austin Jenkins

Before legal marijuana in Washington hits store shelves, it will have to be tested. Special pot labs will check for potency, molds, foreign matter and bacteria like E. Coli. It’s a key part of the recreational marijuana market approved by Washington voters last fall. But setting the standards for how to lab test pot turns out to be pretty complicated. And now some lab managers worry they won’t be ready in time.

First, it was Washington and Colorado. Now, Oregon is in the running to legalize marijuana.

Le.Loup.Gris / Wikimedia Commons

Responding to federal concerns, the Washington State Liquor Control Board says it will change its rules on where marijuana retail stores can be located. The change aligns Washington state rules with federal law. Officials say that makes retail store owners less vulnerable to prosecution.

A federal law enforcement official says the government is working to address a ban on banks taking on marijuana businesses as clients. As it stands, when pot stores come to Washington they won’t be able to deposit their money in a bank or accept credit cards. That’s because the pot business, still illegal under federal law, is off limits to federally regulated banks. King County Sheriff John Urquhart told a U-S Senate committee Tuesday that businesses that deal only in cash present problems for police.

Syria’s not the only issue on the agenda in Congress this week. So is marijuana. The Senate Judiciary committee will hold a hearing Tuesday on the conflict between federal law and pot legalization in Washington and Colorado.

Pot Taxes Paid In Cash? Washington Says OK

Sep 9, 2013

Marijuana-based businesses in Washington will be able to pay their taxes in cash. That’s the word from the state’s Department of Revenue. The agency is gearing up for more cash filers in its field offices.

Washington’s Liquor Control Board has come up with a new way to measure the 1,000 foot buffer zone required between marijuana businesses and places where kids congregate. The new method of measurement may allow pot stores in neighborhoods otherwise thought to be off limits.

Instead of "as the crow flies," they talk about the most common walking route you would take. So, for instance a thousand foot buffer from a school, leave the school campus and walk to where the store would be using the most common walking route. If that’s a 1,000 feet or more, you’re okay.

Washington could have as many as 334 marijuana retail stores statewide. That’s the cap proposed Wednesday by the state’s Liquor Control Board.

Rural Ferry County in northeast Washington would only be allowed one pot retailer. But populous King County could have 61 -- including 21 stores in the city of Seattle.

No so-called "potrepreneur" could operate more than three stores.

Le.Loup.Gris / Wikimedia Commons

We’re about to find out the number of marijuana retail store locations that will be allowed in each of Washington’s 39 counties.

It was the call Governor Jay Inslee has been waiting for since the beginning of the year. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder giving Washington – and Colorado – the green light to proceed with marijuana legalization. But the feds reserve the right to intervene if they see problems.

The Obama administration will not sue to block Washington and Colorado from legalizing recreational marijuana.

Legal pot? Not so fast. That’s the message from a growing number of Washington cities.

Several municipalities are considering whether to pass a moratorium on pot-related businesses. Others – like Bellingham and Olympia – have already enacted temporary bans.

Richland, Pasco and Kennewick are just the latest Washington cities to consider moratoriums. But it’s not just more conservative eastern Washington communities. Liberal Bellingham and Olympia have said ‘time out’ when it comes to legal, recreational pot.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

The state of Washington has compiled a lengthy list of pesticides for marijuana growers to use, even though these chemicals are not officially approved for pot. The new list is part of the state’s ongoing effort to regulate the production of legal, recreational marijuana.


Washington state expects to adopt final rules for the structure governing legalized marijuana under I-502 by next week. So officials with the state’s Liquor Control Board are touring the state to get feedback before the rules take effect.

Washington Pot Czar Forecasts Victory Over Black Market

Aug 5, 2013
National Institute on Drug Abuse

Washington’s so-called “pot czar” says he thinks the state’s new legal marijuana industry could wipe out most of the black market. But he says officials haven’t laid the groundwork for the knockout blow. 

The stated goal of Washington’s new marijuana law is to stop treating adult pot use as a crime. But Washington’s pot consultant says this experiment in legalization will only work if the police aggressively target the black market. And he’s concerned that won’t happen.

The sponsors of Initiative 502 were clear. They said it was time for a “new approach” to marijuana in Washington. They wanted to allow adult pot use, free up law enforcement to focus on violent and property crimes and “take marijuana out of the hands of illegal drug organizations.”

In draft rules filed Wednesday, the Washington State Liquor Control Board laid out new rules for advertising, packaging and labeling marijuana. The rules forbid ads by “Joe Camel”-type cartoon characters. But they don’t restrict marijuana-infused gummy bears. 

Washington’s Liquor Control Board does not plan to limit how many retail licenses one person can obtain to sell marijuana. At least that’s the decision for now. The Board Wednesday issued its final draft rules for the state’s new recreational marijuana market.

Washington State Liquor Control Board

Washington’s official pot logo is out. Outdoor marijuana grows are in.