The state’s government has now outlined the marijuana rules in Washington. Although we are a drug and alcohol recovery center, it would be foolish for us to not look at how these laws will impact our field, as they ultimately will. Whether we like it or not, marijuana addiction is a real issue, and with greater availability comes more people looking for help.
To begin with, the first of as many as 334 shops can open no earlier than next spring. Additionally, there are a lot more questions from those looking to open recreational marijuana businesses in Washington than there are answers, as each answer brings up additional questions.
The number of these businesses is going to be based on both population density as well as geographical area. For instance, King county will be permitted 61 shops, and of those 61 shops, approximately 20 would be allowed in the Seattle area. Areas with lower population densities will be permitted a single business. Interestingly enough, geographical area trumps population. Those living in counties that consist of multiple islands will be allowed a business on each inhabited island in that county to provide easy access.
Another of the marijuana rules in Washington is that no one under 21 is allowed to purchase or possess it. A lab must analyze each product for strength and purity under the new laws as well. Further, businesses are not allowed within a traveling distance of 1,000 feet of any school, park, or other area where kids frequent. Lighting up in areas like parks and public spaces is illegal, as one might expect. Meanwhile, on the topic of kids, all packaging must be child resistant.
One of the stranger marijuana rules in Washington is that all “solid marijuana products” (as opposed to liquid or somehow pre-smoked weed?) sold must have clearly defined serving sizes.
Ironically enough, criminal background checks are required for an activity that is still federally illegal. The further irony is that those most experienced with selling marijuana effectively will probably have some form of criminal record for—you guessed it—selling weed.
One of the more controversial decisions that now put medical marijuana users and recreational users against one another is the 40 metric ton limit for all of 2014. Medical users are now afraid that their supply of medicine is going to dwindle with the number of recreational users and people coming from other states to partake. Each person is allowed six plants for personal use, but there still has not been a clear answer as to whether or not landlords have the right to tell their tenants that they can grow marijuana within their building(s).
The decision was made in an effort to limit the success of these businesses. By keeping farm size to less than an acre and having a maximum yearly yield, the state clearly wants to keep the businesses from becoming too attractive to others who may want to start similar businesses. However, the small size of each farm and the maximum yield is drawing criticism from outdoor growers, stating that these regulations favor indoor growers.
Although many advocates are hopeful, the marijuana rules in Washington could prove to be a bigger buzz kill for users in general than simply having unenforced illegal possession.