SEATTLE – It’s one thing to legalize marijuana. It’s another to figure out how to sell it, grow it, regulate it, test it and tax it.
Voters in Washington state and Colorado made pot use for adults over 21 legal last fall, but that was just the first step. On Thursday, Washington officials are expected to release the first draft of rules governing the state’s new marijuana industry.
Washington’s Liquor Control Board has been devising rules for the industry, covering topics such as how the plants will be grown, how marijuana products will be tested for strength and quality, and how many retail stores will be allowed.
The rules are expected to become effective in August, and the board will begin accepting applications for growing, processing and retailing licenses in September. The state expects to issue pot licenses in December.
So when would people be able to legally purchase marijuana in Washington? Probably not until spring of 2014.
While marijuana users look forward to legalized sales, state officials are anticipated that pot taxes would bring Washington hundreds of millions of dollars a year in new revenue.
All of this planning in Washington state — and Colorado — is set against uncertainty about what the ultimate response from the U.S. Justice Department might be. Marijuana remains illegal under federal law.