State says full year needed to create legal marijuana framework

Now that Washington voters have approved marijuana legalization, the state’s Liquor Control Board faces the task of building from the ground up an entirely new system of regulation and oversight.

Initiative 502, which would license and regulate marijuana production, distribution, and possession for people over 21, passed with 55 percent of the statewide vote. Its approval was slightly higher in Whatcom County, with 57 percent voting in support.

In a statement, the liquor board said that I-502 gives the state until Dec. 1, 2013, to craft rules for implementation. The board expects to take the full year to develop the framework for the new system.

Since marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, a major question still remains: Will federal officials look the other way?

The liquor board said it plans to reach out to officials at the U.S. Department of Justice in the coming weeks for clarification.

It would also work with other state agencies impacted by I-502, including the Washington State Patrol, the Department of Health and the Department of Agriculture.

Contact Evan Marczynski at or call 360-647-8805. 

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