Washington Liquor Control Board to Invent a Pot Market, From Seed to Store

Washington voters’ decision to legalize marijuana means the state Liquor Control Board (LCB) now has a year to set regulations for the first-of-its-kind marijuana market.

But first, the small state agency must go on an even stranger mission — to get into the, well, weeds of how marijuana is grown, sold and used.

At a hearing on Friday before a state Senate committee, Pat Kohler, the LCB director, said the agency would need to hire a consultant — a pot expert — to gather input from key groups of police, farmers, users and others to help her staff better “understand the product and the industry itself.”

The agency has been getting a lot of advice, said Rick Garza, Kohler’s deputy. “There’s a lot of people who think they have a lot of experience in this area,” Garza said, prompting laughs from lawmakers.

The voter-approved Initiative 502 requires the LCB to license and regulate a seed-to-store closed marijuana market, with the first licenses to be issued in late 2013. Based on a state fiscal analysis, it will be a big market: 363,000 users consuming 187,000 pounds of marijuana each year, with steep sin taxes generating more than $560 million a year.

– Article from The Seattle Times.

Marijuana legalization measure requires 40 staffers and a pot expert
Jonathan Martin, Seattle Times

The Washington State Liquor Control Board says it needs to hire 40 additional staff and bring an outside expert in marijuana to implement the voter-approved marijuana legalization measure.

In a briefing to a Senate committee in Olympia on Friday, LCB director Pat Kohler said the biggest challenge of setting up a regulated marijuana market was “understanding the product and the industry itself.”

“There’s a lot of people who think they have a lot of experience in this area,” joked Rick Garza, Kohler’s deputy.

The LCB is taking the lead in creating rules for state-licensed marijuana stores, growers and processors called for in Initiative 502, which passed 56-44 on Nov. 6. Friday’s hearing was the first chance for lawmakers to ask questions about the historic measure.

Kohler estimated there could be 328 stores – the same number of liquor stores under the now-defunct state liquor monopoly – but her staff needed to better understand potential customer demand, among other things. A state fiscal analysis predicted that 363,000 state residents would buy from the state stores, based on federal use surveys.

– Article from The Seattle Times.

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    If you get Pennsylvania on board, the state will also regulate hempseed products made for human consumption, so that could pave the way for industrial hemp production, since the state relies heavily on agriculture. There are a host of other states in the list below that are not already MMJ states. Washington state’s model saves them from reinventing the wheel and having to correct any mistakes along the way. They can just learn from whatever Washington state adjusts or rectifies along the way.

    The 18 control or monopoly jurisdictions as of June 2012 are:
    Alabama (Liquor stores are state-run or on-premise establishments with a special off-premise license.)[2]
    Idaho (Maintains a monopoly over sales of beverages with greater than 16% ABV.)
    Iowa (Does not operate retail outlets. Passed a bill in March 2010, allowing high-proof beer to be privately distributed.)[3]
    Maine (State-contracted to private businesses for commission)
    Maryland (Under state law the counties of Montgomery, Somerset, Wicomico and Worcester are county alcohol controlled which mandates that off-premise liquor sales are to be conducted only at county owned and operated dispensaries/stores. One exception exists in Montgomery County, four grocery stores had their licenses grandfathered prior to the change of the law.[4] Until recently Dorchester County was an alcohol control county until the County Council voted to permanently shutter the county owned liquor dispensaries.)
    Michigan (Does not operate retail outlets; maintains a monopoly over wholesaling of distilled spirits only.)
    Mississippi (State-contracted liquor stores)
    Montana (State-contracted liquor stores, modeled after the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission)[5]
    New Hampshire (Beer and wine can be sold at supermarkets & convenience stores; spirits and liqueurs are sold only in state-run liquor stores.)
    North Carolina (Beer and wine can be sold in supermarkets and convenience stores; other spirits must be sold in liquor stores owned by local ABC boards. The State ABC Commission controls wholesale distribution and oversees local ABC boards.)
    Ohio (Licenses businesses to run liquor stores for a commission; these stores have a monopoly on sales of beverages with greater than 21% ABV.)
    Oregon (Beer and wine can be sold in supermarkets and convenience stores; other spirits must be sold in liquor stores operated and managed by state-appointed liquor agents who act as independent contractors under the supervision of the OLCC.)
    Pennsylvania (All liquor stores [wine and spirits] are run by the state. Recently, there have been state-run retail outlets in the form of automated kiosks, opened inside some supermarkets; currently, 19 supermarkets have this.[6] Malt beverages are sold in case lots by distributors and in smaller quantities by on-premise establishments.)
    Utah (all beverages over 3.2% ABW [4.0% ABV] are sold in state-run stores, Utah code 5(a)(i))[7]
    Vermont (Liquor stores are state-contracted and licensed)
    Virginia (Beer and wine ?14% ABV sold at supermarkets and convenience stores; all liquor stores are run by the state)
    West Virginia (Does not operate retail outlets; maintains a monopoly over wholesaling of distilled spirits only.)
    Wyoming (Does not operate retail outlets)

    Several Municipalities in Minnesota and South Dakota are also control jurisdictions, where the revenue generated from alcohol sales goes directly to the municipality.

    About one-quarter of the United States population lives in control or monopoly states.