Q&A: What you need to know about Washington’s legal marijuana industry

Oct 16, 2013, 11:15 PM | Updated: Dec 12, 2013, 7:37 am
Washington state has approved rules for its new legal marijuana industry, but what does that mean? ...
Washington state has approved rules for its new legal marijuana industry, but what does that mean? (AP)

Washington state has approved rules for its new legal marijuana industry, but what does that mean?

Q: What is the new marijuana law?

A: In summary – This measure would remove state – law prohibitions against producing, processing, and selling
marijuana, subject to licensing and regulation by the liquor control board; allow limited possession of marijuana by persons aged 21 and over; and impose 25 percent excise taxes on wholesale and retail sales of marijuana, earmarking revenue for purposes that include substance – abuse prevention, research, education, and healthcare. Laws prohibiting driving under the influence would be amended to include maximum thresholds for THC blood concentration.

Q: Legally, how much marijuana can I carry on me?

A: Individuals 21 years of age or older are legally authorized to possess and use marijuana, related paraphernalia and any combination of: One ounce of useable marijuana, 16 ounces of marijuana infused product in solid form; or 72 ounces of marijuana infused product in liquid form.

Q: Where can I use marijuana?

A: Initiative 502 states that it is unlawful to open/consume a package of marijuana or marijuana infused product in view of the general public.

Q: Can my work legally drug test me?

A: I-502 does not address the topic of drug testing but it is the state’s understanding that employers may still conduct drug testing at their discretion.

Q: When can I buy marijuana in a store?

A: The state liquor control board plans to begin accepting license applications Nov. 18. The licenses become effective Dec. 1, 2013. The board says it’s hired a team to process licenses, but it’s unclear how long that will take. Liquor licenses generally take 60 to 90 days to process. After that, it depends on the market, availability of the product, how fast a store can come together, etc. The liquor control board estimates consumers might begin to see recreational marijuana for sale sometime in late spring of 2014.

Q: How much will marijuana cost me to buy?

A: The Office of Financial Management places a price estimate of $12 per gram. Medicinal marijuana
dispensary prices on average range between $10 and $15 per gram with some premium products exceeding $15 per gram. Based on average retail mark-up practices, estimated producer price is $3 per gram and estimated
processor price is $6 per gram.

Q: Where can I find stores?

A: The board will issue licenses for up to 334 marijuana stores across the state, with 21 of them in Seattle. Stores will be licensed and regulated by the board, but will be private-sector businesses. And the stores may only sell marijuana, marijuana infused products, and marijuana paraphernalia.

Q: Can I take my marijuana on a road trip?

A: No. Marijuana products must be consumed in Washington.

Q: What is considered too much before I drive?

A: I-502 sets a per se DUI limit of “delta-9” THC levels at greater than or equal to 5 nanograms per milliliter of blood (5 ng/mL).

Q: Can I grow plants at home?

A: No. Recreational use marijuana must be purchased from a state-licensed retailer.

Q: Can I fill my marijuana prescription at a new pot store?

A: No. Recreational pot stores can’t double as medical dispensaries.

Q: How much will it cost to get a marijuana license?

A: Washington will charge $250 per license application, plus $1,000 annual renewal fees.

Q: Can anyone obtain a license?

A: Washington requires background checks to keep recent felons from obtaining licenses, though there is leeway for those convicted of marijuana crimes that are now legal.

Q: Are there other restrictions?

A: Washington will impose residency requirements for those obtaining licenses or investing in pot businesses and will require security measures for pot businesses, such as surveillance and alarm systems.

Q: What kind of license should I get?

A: You can get licenses to grow, process, or sell pot, but not all three_ an attempt by the board to stamp out any monopolies before they start. It also prohibits out-of-state investment in pot businesses and requires quality-control testing of marijuana by third-party labs.

Q: What does a producer do?

A: A marijuana producer produces marijuana for sale at wholesale to marijuana processors and
allows for production, possession, delivery, and distribution.

Q: What does a processor do?

A: A marijuana processor processes, packages, and labels marijuana/marijuana infused product for sale at wholesale to marijuana retailers and allows for processing, packaging, possession, delivery, and distribution.

Q: What does a seller do?

A: A marijuana retailer allows for sale of useable marijuana/marijuana infused products at retail
outlets regulated by the state liquor control board.

Q: How many producer and processor licenses will be issued?

A: There is no limit. The board will open a 30 day window Nov. 18 where anyone can apply, and qualified applicants will receive licenses.

Q: How many retail licenses will be issued?

A: The number of retail locations will be determined using a formula that distributes the number of locations proportionate to the most populous cities within each county. Locations not assigned to a specific city will be at large. Once the number of locations per city and at- large have been identified, the specific locations will be selected by lottery in the event the number of applications exceeds the allotted amount for the cities and county.

Q: How much pot will be produced?

A: Washington is capping total production at 80 metric tons.

Q: How will the state monitor the quantity?

A: Washington will require seed-to-sale tracking of pot in hopes of preventing diversion to the black market.

Q: How is marijuana going to be taxed?

A: The initiative applies a 25 percent excise tax on each level of the system: producer to a processor, processor to a retailer, and retailer to the customer. In addition, B&O taxes on the production and local retail sales taxes apply.

Q: How do we keep marijuana out of the hands of children?

A: Washington will require childproof packaging for pot products and labels describing the strength of the marijuana inside and potential dangers associated with its use. Advertising aimed at minors is also banned. In addition, stores cannot be set up within 1000 feet of any elementary or secondary school, playground, recreation center or facility, child care center, public park, public transit center, library, or game arcade that allows minors to enter.

For more information about I-502, visit the Washington State Liquor Control Board website.

The Associated Press and the Washington State Liquor Control Board contributed to this report.

Local News

cap rent criminal background checks...
L.B. Gilbert

Judge rules against Seattle ban on criminal background checks for renters

Discrimination against those with criminal background checks is still illegal but the ruling allows landlords to ask about criminal records.
16 hours ago
gas works park...
L.B. Gilbert

1 dead, 1 injured in overnight shooting at Gas Works Park

Shortly after 11:30 p.m., officers arrived and located two males with gunshot wounds at Gas Works Park Tuesday night. 
16 hours ago
Seattle Starbucks strike...
L.B. Gilbert

Starbucks union calls for strikes, pickets ahead of shareholder meeting

Café employees and their supporters protested outside company headquarters in downtown Seattle on Wednesday.
16 hours ago
Bridget Chavez, KIRO 7 News

Seattle Humane reports surge in pet surrenders due to rising costs amidst inflation

Seattle Humane is seeing more people in the area surrendering their pets due to rising costs.
16 hours ago
oso landslide...
Ted Buehner

Oso community marks 9-year anniversary of deadly landslide

March 22nd marks a solemn day in Washington's history. It was nine years ago when the Oso landslide occurred, taking 43 lives.
16 hours ago
Hospitals losses...
Bill Kaczaraba

WA hospitals operating at a loss, official calls situation ‘unsustainable’

Washington hospitals are operating at a loss and it could impact patient services. Financial losses are totaling billions of dollars.
16 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

SHIBA volunteer...

Volunteer to help people understand their Medicare options!

If you’re retired or getting ready to retire and looking for new ways to stay active, becoming a SHIBA volunteer could be for you!
safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Q&A: What you need to know about Washington’s legal marijuana industry