Hundreds attend pot forum with liquor control board

Published On: Feb 12 2013 11:49:49 PM PST
SPOKANE, Wash. -

About 450 filled a room in the Spokane Convention Center Tuesday night for an open forum with the Liquor Control Board. It was their chance to voice concerns and recommendations to the Board on the state's new marijuana law. It's the 4th of 8th forums the Board will hold around the state to help them shape the rules and regulations.

When Initiative 502 passed, it laid out what seemed to be a list of very specific rules. Rules that no retail pot shops are allowed to open within 1000 feet of schools, libraries, or transit centers. In these open forums, more questions than answers arise.

"We would like to apply by all the rules, but someone needs to give us the rules," one man said.

It's the Liquor Control Board's job to answer all the questions asked Tuesday night by December 1st. They'll take what they hear and consider the comments in making the rules.

"This is all going on simultaneously, we have a number of committees, or teams, within the Liquor Control Board that are working on various aspects that are bringing certain decision points to light. The board is weighing in on that as we go forward," Board Communications Director Brian Smith said.

Board members say they need this feedback because Washington is embarking on a brand new billion dollar business.

One woman worries big corporations will take over.

"What about restrictions on growth? Will there be a cap on how many strains you can grow? And how much of each? So that not any one business becomes too big and takes over," she said.

In the law, producers, processors, and retailers will all be charged a 25 percent tax. It was a common concern at the forum as most growers say they would also process it.

"For the grower to make the top quality product, he needs to be able to ensure that throughout the whole product," one potential grower said.

Board member Chris Marr says allowing those growers a tax break is something they'll consider.

Another concern was whether or not people with pot convictions will be able to have marijuana farms? It's a common question and problem the state faces as many of the best people in the business have been doing what they do, illegally.

"I definitely think people with marijuana convictions should be able to apply to acquire a license," one man said.

The federal government hasn't shut down the state's process of developing rules yet. The board thinks if it happens, it will be sooner rather than later.

One man had a suggestion on what to do if they step in.

"The sheriff of every county should do his duty, stand up to the feds, and tell them to stay out of the state of Washington."

The board has set a timeline to answer all of these questions. You can view its timeline for I-502 implementation, and a fact sheet about the new law by clicking on this link: http://liq.wa.gov/marijuana/I-502