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State tells you how to get into the marijuana business

New proposals for regulating for the emerging legal marijuana industry in Washington are just out.

The Washington State Liquor Control Board published 46 pages of draft rules that deal with licenses, security, advertising, labeling, and retail transactions.

The draft rules require background checks for people applying to grow, process or sell marijuana.

“There’s fingerprinting for all, both Washington State Patrol and FBI background checks of licensees and financiers,” according to Mikhael Carpenter, spokesman for the Liquor Control Board, which published the draft rules Thursday.

The regulations set up a point system for determining if an applicant with a criminal record should be excluded from getting a license. There are allowances for people with marijuana convictions, which is a positive development according to Kevin Oliver, executive director of the Washington Chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, or NORML.

“You won’t be barred automatically just because you have even a felony for production or possession of marijuana. We’re happy that people who’ve been busted because it’s a stupid law are not necessarily barred from [getting a license]; that’s a real positive step.”

The rules spell out requirements for facilities that grow, process or sell marijuana. Security requirements focus on alarm systems, cameras, and employee IDs.

“Identification badges for all employees within the licensed premises, alarm systems, at a minimum you’re going to have to have a security system on all perimeter entry points and perimeter windows,” said Carpenter.

The draft rules consider quality control, requiring retailers to test their product at state-approved laboratories.

There are also rules addressing labeling and advertising. A store could have one small exterior sign, 1,600 square inches in size.

The state spent eight months researching possible rules, talking with academics, politicians and people in the medicinal marijuana industry with a goal toward developing a tightly controlled and regulated marijuana market, including collecting and distributing taxes and fees, said Carpenter.

The public can comment on the draft rules until June 10. Carpenter said the state will start accepting license applications for 30 days in September. Licenses will be granted in December and retail stores could open as soon as early 2014.

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