Washington set to create pot rules alongside federal guidelineson August 30, 2013 @ 7:00 am (Updated: 11:42 am - 8/30/13 )
Attorney General Eric Holder announced Thursday that he will not challenge Washington or Colorado's implementation of a marijuana distribution system.
But Holder reminded Governor Jay Inslee that pot is still illegal, and the federal government will step in if the state doesn't follow some very important guidelines.
Washington must prevent marijuana use by kids. It must prevent distribution-related violence, driving while high, money going to criminal operations, using pot to cover other illegal acts, growing on public lands, using on federal land and the spread of Washington pot to other states.
Governor Inslee says he can live with that. "These are exactly the eight interests we have shown in the state of Washington that have guided our formulation of our very tightly and well regulated distribution system."
The governor says this move by Holder shows confidence in Washington's ability to pull this off.
"I think this is a very carefully calibrated and a very common sense approach from the federal government to really respect something that is successful in many years in our country which is to allow states to be the laboratories of democracy," says Inslee.
But not everyone is buying what the attorney general is selling. Pot advocates say they've heard this all before, but the feds' actions speak louder than words.
"In 2009 they released a similar memo saying they would respect state medical marijuana laws," explains Tom Angell. founder of Marijuana Majority. "But unfortunately, since that time, the Obama administration has overseen the closure of more state legal medical marijuana businesses, then were closed over two terms of the Bush administration."
And what about medical marijuana? Washington still has two sets of rules. You still can't sell medical pot like you can recreational pot.
Governor Inslee says it's time to reconcile that, "To find ways to have a better regulated, more disciplined, more transparent medical marijuana system. That is in the works. That was going to happen even independent of the Federal Government's interested as espoused with the discussions with Attorney General Holder. We recognize the need for changes in this regard - in any event."
The State Liquor Control Board is set to release its final proposed rules governing marijuana businesses on Wednesday.
They will cover how many shops will be licensed. How much they can sell and what kind of security they must provide.
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