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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