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In 2012, Washington and Colorado voters made history when they approved measures to legalize recreational marijuana. Washington Initiative 502 “authorizes the state liquor board to regulate and tax marijuana for persons twenty-one years of age or older.”Since the vote in Washington, the Liquor Board has written a complex set of rules for the state’s new, legal recreational cannabis marketplace. The agency has also set limits on the amount of marijuana that can be grown. And the Board has begun to license growers, processors and retailers.For now, the Obama administration has signaled it will not interfere with Washington and Colorado’s legal pot experiment, unless there is evidence that legal pot is “leaking” to other states or children are getting access to the legal product. The feds are also watching to see if criminal organizations exploit the legal market.The first marijuana retail stores in Washington opened in July 2014.Recreational marijuana is also set to become legal in Oregon on July 1, 2015 after voters approved Measure 91 in November 2014.

Washington Lawmakers Consider New Pot Regulations

Alexandra Kocik
Northwest News Network

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington state regulators could consider the criminal backgrounds of people looking to legally sell marijuana. That’s one provision of a bill rolled out Tuesday in Olympia to regulate pot sales.

The bill would make a number of changes to Initiative 502, the marijuana law approved by Washington voters last November. It would make siting a pot store easier by decreasing the distance the businesses have to be from schools, parks and other public areas. The measure would also give the Washington Liquor Control Board more power to decide who can legally sell marijuana.

Rep. Christopher Hurst says the agency should be able to deny a license to prospective pot retailers with long rap sheets.

“The Liquor Board has been real clear about that. They’re not going to allow dirty money to capitalize these operations.”

Hurst also wants to vary the cost of official pot-selling certificates based on location. That way the state could earn more revenue from proposals for stores in high-traffic areas.

This bill would change a voter-approved law so to pass, it requires a two-thirds majority vote from both the House and Senate. A hearing is scheduled for next week.

On the Web:

HB 2000: Changes to Initiative 502 - Washington Legislature