Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The questions begin: Where should marijuana be grown? How much security is needed?

The Liquor Control Board launched a webpage dedicated to providing information about the implementation of Initiative 502.  They have a little more than one year to develop a brand new regulatory system as Washington establishes a marijuana industry. 

In an interview with KPLU, the Liquor Control Board Chairperson notes that since marijuana has never been legalized anywhere before, they have a lot of work ahead of them.

She says Washington’s law now goes farther than any other state has gone on legalizing marijuana.

“We are in new territory.”

As chair of the board, she’s the regulator in chief of state-run marijuana…Safety is paramount, she says.

Figuring out how the plants would be grown and protected will be the agency’s first order of business.

“Do people want just greenhouses, or do people want to go to the expense of having security around their growing area?”

Having armed guards around pot fields might also attract too much attention, since the law envisioned growers just blending into the landscape.

Public health and safety advocates can have their voices heard during this process of setting rules and regulations for the new industry.  Advocates can play a significant role in determining  issues like if marijuana should be grown in greenhouses or farms or both.  Local zoning laws can be established to control where marijuana growing operations, producers, and stores are located.  Some local jurisdictions may choose to put a moratorium on businesses that grow, produce, and sell marijuana until the Liquor Control Board has regulations in place or the response from the federal government is known.  Security requirements can be established so that armed robbery and theft of marijuana plants and products can be minimized.

For instance, the Seattle City Council is in the process of proposing changes to zoning laws so that large marijuana farms, producers, and retailers are limited to non-neighborhood commercial zones.  Other jurisdictions around the state have banned medical marijuana dispensaries while others established moratoriums to give them time to sort out zoning and public safety issues.

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