Washington State, along with Colorado, have become the first two states in the country to pass marijuana laws that effectively legalize the purchase, possession and use of marijuana for personal use only. In Washington the law was known as initiative 502, or more simply I-502. The law passed by a 56-44 margin on November 2nd, 2012. After the law was passed during the general election of 2012 the Washington Liquor Control Board along with an immigration lawyer Seattle began formulating the rules and regulations that would have to be followed in accordance with the law. Currently production and sales of cannabis are expected to begin sometime in 2014.
There are numerous guidelines, rules and regulations contained within I-502 that help to establish the general rules and structure for how cannabis will be produced, processed, marketed and sold in Washington State. Recently an “official logo” was released in Washington which resembles an outline of the State of Washington, along with a stylized cannabis leaf in the middle surrounded by a circle. This logo must be included on all packaging that contains any type of cannabis product including dried flower, concentrates, BHO oil and edible cannabis products.
One of the most important guidelines that the Washington Liquor Control Board is establishing is the minimum age at which cannabis products can legally be purchased. The state has decided to establish the minimum age at 21, which coincides with the minimum age at which alcohol can legally be purchased. This was done in an attempt to keep cannabis out of the hands of young people and keep it in the hands of older, more responsible young adults.
The maximum amount of marijuana that can be purchased at any one time is an ounce of dried flowers. Hash and other concentrates will not be offered as they are considered too powerful for novice users. Sales will be open to both residents of Washington as well as out-of-state residents over the age of 21. Many economists have predicted this will create a “pot tourism” boom in Washington, allowing other markets such as restaurants, hotels, motels, rental car companies and travel agencies to benefit.
Effects of I-502 on Washington
The rules and guidelines in relation to I-502 are expected to be completed and submitted for final approval no later than December 1st, 2013. Most economists, lawyers and attorneys have predicted I-502 will have a massive impact on the economy and tourism industry in Washington. Because the marijuana can be purchased by out-of-state residents, most experts are predicting Washington will become a “cannabis sanctuary” where thousands of people from neighboring states will visit to make their purchases and enjoy their product.
The amount of law enforcement resources spent on arresting and incarcerating people who have violated state cannabis laws is expected to decrease dramatically. This will allow the state to spend this money on more useful institutions including the Northwest Detention Center, more funding for addiction research, and more money spent on public safety and public health.