The wait is officially over, folks. Yesterday, the Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB) met its projected mid-May deadline to issue initial draft rules implementing Initiative 502 (I-502) (PDF), Washington state’s recently enacted marijuana reform law. The 46-page proposed addition to the Washington Administrative Code gives the public a glimpse into how the WSLCB will potentially regulate such areas as from marijuana product testing, growing licenses, advertising, and package labeling.

For instance, the Board is proposing a number of security requirements on licensed marijuana growers, processors, and retailers. According to the draft rules, (1) marijuana production must take place within a fully enclosed secure indoor facility or greenhouse with rigid walls, a roof, and doors, (2) all employees in any licensed premises must display an identification badge at all times while in a licenses premises, (3) each licensed premises must have a security alarm system on all perimeter entry points and perimeter windows, (4) the licensed premises must have a complete video surveillance and recording system for control areas, and (5) all marijuana licensees must have a traceability mechanism to track the marijuana from seed to sale. 

In addition to security and public safety requirements, all marijuana licensees will be responsible for keeping records that clearly and accurately reflect the financial condition of the business and the business’s operations. Specifically, the following records must be kept and maintained on the licensed premises for a three year period and must be made available for inspection if requested by an employee of the liquor control board: purchase invoices, bank statements, accounting and tax records, records of all financial transactions related to the licensed business, employee records, records of each daily application of fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides or any other chemicals, batch records, inventory records, and quality test results.

Some other highlights from the initial draft rules are as follows:

  • RETAIL SALES – Similar to liquor sales, marijuana retailer licensee will be permitted to sell useable marijuana, marijuana-infused products, and marijuana paraphernalia 20 hours a day, 7 days a week between the hours of 6AM and 2AM. A single retail transaction is limited to 1 ounce of useable marijuana, 16 ounces of marijuana-infused product in solid form, and 72 ounces of marijuana-infused product in liquid form for persons 21 and older.
  • LABELING – Labels affixed to the container or package containing marijuana-infused products sold at retail must include information similar to that seen on processed food product labels: the name of the business and the UBI number for all licensees, lot and batch numbers, manufactured date, best by date, serving size including total milligrams of active THC, net weight, ingredients list any allergens, the Washington State icon logo, and several cautionary statements such as, “May be habit forming” and “this product unlawful outside of Washington State.”
  • PRODUCT WARNINGS – Both useable marijuana and marijuana-infused products will be required to be sold by the retailer with certain accompanying materials that contain several warning statements to the consumer such as “There may be health risks associated with consumption of this product;” “For use only by adults 21 and older. Keep out of reach of children;” “Products containing marijuana can impair concentration, coordination, and judgment. Do not operate a vehicle or machinery under the influence of this drug;” etc.
  • ADVERTISING – The Board intends to limit each retail licensed premises advertising to one sign no larger than sixteen hundred square feet identifying the retail outlet by the licensee’s business name or trade name that is visible to the general public.
  • QUALITY ASSURANCE TESTING – Marijuana licensees are required to conduct quality assurance testing for any usable marijuana or other marijuana product, which testing must be performed by an accredited third party testing lab.  
  • WASTE DISPOSAL – Marijuana solid and liquid waste must be stored, secured and managed in accordance with the applicable state and local statutes and regulations and disposed of in compliance with the Washington Departments of Ecology and Health and local codes and ordinances.

It is important to note, that these rules are still in the very early stages of development. In an interview with the Seattle Times, Alison Holcomb, primary author of I-502 and the drug-policy director for the ACLU of Washington, noted that many rules seem to beg further clarification. The article in this morning’s issue of the paper quoted Holcomb as stating, “This is literally just a preview of where they are right now. And they’re intentionally doing this to give the public an opportunity to provide meaningful input.”

By releasing these initial draft rules before filing the formal draft rules the WSLCB intends to solicit public comment before starting the official draft rule process in mid-June. Vetting the rules with stakeholders will allow the Board to adapt and refine the draft rules based on the input received. Stakeholders are encouraged to review the draft rules and send comments and suggestions to rules@liq.wa.gov or the following mailing address no later than June 10, 2013:

Rules Coordinator

Liquor Control Board

P.O. Box 43080

Olympia, WA 98504-3080

The complete draft rules are available for download on the WSLCB’s website here: http://www.stoel.com/files/Initial-Draft-Rules-05-16-13.pdf (PDF). Stoel Rives attorneys will be further analyzing the draft rules in the coming weeks.