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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Washington Liquor Control Staff: Allow Outdoor Marijuana Grows

Licensed outdoor marijuana grows may be allowed in Washington after all.

Staff at the state’s Liquor Control Board said Wednesday they’ve been persuaded by potential growers to consider alternatives to energy-intensive indoor pot production. Meanwhile, medical marijuana patients rallied at the state capitol in opposition possible new restrictions on them.

It’s been a little over a month since Washington’s Liquor Control Board issued proposed regulations for the state’s new recreational marijuana market. Since then, the Board has received more than 800 comments – some calling for more stringent regulations, others saying back off a bit.

Many of the comments had to do with the proposal that marijuana only be grown indoors or in enclosed greenhouses.

Now chief rules writer Karen McCall says her mind’s been changed.

"With the proper security we feel that outdoor grows would work as well as indoor grows," says McCall.

McCall says one advantage of sun-grown pot is a smaller carbon footprint. She will now advise her bosses – the liquor board – to allow outdoor grows.

Meanwhile at the state capitol, medical marijuana patients rallied against a legislative proposal to give the Liquor Control Board authority over medical cannabis too. Patients worry the board would recommend the medical product be taxed.

Some lawmakers argue it makes sense to put the liquor board in charge so it can integrate the medical and recreational marijuana markets.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."