Rules dictate how legal pot industries will work in Washington, Colorado

SEATTLE – The legal marijuana industries in Washington and Colorado will differ in some big ways.

Washington is taxing pot highly and capping total production in the state at 80 metric tons. Colorado voters are considering whether to tax it at a much lower rate, with no limit on total production.

Washington bars home-growing; Colorado allows up to six plants at home. Colorado will allow stores to sell both recreational and medical marijuana; in Washington, where medical marijuana is not regulated, recreational pot stores can’t double as medical dispensaries.

But beyond that, the nitty-gritty rules adopted Wednesday by Washington’s Liquor Control Board are largely similar to those adopted last month in Colorado. Officials in both states say the goal is to create a functioning legal pot market without endangering public safety. Here’s a look at some key ways the states are trying to accomplish that:

—THE LICENSES: In Washington, people can get licenses to grow, process or sell pot — but not all three — and they’re limited to three licenses at most. Colorado will have separate licenses for selling pot to the public, growing it and making edible pot products. People can apply for all three or just get one, with no limit on how many licenses they can obtain.

—THE FEES: Both states require fees to enter the world of legitimate pot businesses. Washington will charge $250 per license application, plus $1,000 annual renewal fees. Colorado’s fees range from $2,750 to $14,000.

—TRACKING: Both states require seed-to-sale tracking of pot in hopes of preventing diversion to the black market. Colorado already requires this for medical marijuana, but many have raised questions about how effective the system is and whether it creates too much work for overburdened enforcement staff.

—BACKGROUND CHECKS: Both states will require background checks to keep recent felons from obtaining licenses, though there is leeway for those convicted of marijuana crimes that are now legal.

—RESIDENCY: Both states impose residency requirements for those obtaining licenses or investing in pot businesses.

—SECURITY: Both states require security measures for pot businesses, such as surveillance and alarm systems.

—PACKAGING: Both states require childproof packaging for pot products and labels describing the strength of the marijuana inside and potential dangers associated with its use.

—ADVERTISING: Both states ban advertising aimed at minors.


Associated Press writer Kristen Wyatt in Denver contributed to this report.