Rep. Christopher Hurst
Amending a voter-passed initiative in in the first two years after passage requires a two-thirds majority. Despite this hurdle - in an effort to increase the amount of money the state can potentially bring in under I-502 (which legalized recreational pot use for adults in Washington) and to help eradicate the black market by making pot shops more accessible - Rep. Christopher Hurst (D- Enumclaw) is pushing ahead with a plan to do just that.
Rep. Christopher Hurst
As Gene Johnson of the AP reports, Hurst is planning to introduce legislation that would increase the amount of fees required to obtain a license to grow, process or sell weed in our state. According to Johnson, Hurst says leaving I-502 as is would be equivalent to "leaving money on the table."
Hurst's bill would also allow pot shops to open closer to schools, parks and daycares than the 1000-feet rule contained in I-502 - an effort to increase accessibility that Hurst argues will make it more difficult for a black market to operate.
As Johnson reports:
Hurst's bill would create a new "certificate" to be issued by the Liquor Control Board as a precursor to obtaining those licenses, and it would require the board to set the price of the certificate and of the licenses. Under Initiative 502, those interested in the recreational marijuana industry have to pay a $250 application fee and $1,000 annual renewal fee, but Hurst says those are too cheap.
The bill also would allow marijuana businesses to be located closer to parks, daycares and schools - 500 feet instead of 1,000.
The news of Hurst's plan comes on the same day that the ACLU, together with what a press release refers to as "a group of substance abuse prevention and treatment professionals and public health advocates," sent a letter to the state Liquor Control Board urging the adoption of sensible rules regarding pot production and advertising as part of the implementation of I-502. The Liquor Control Board is tasked with crafting regulations on marijuana production and distribution by Dec. 1, and groups like the The Children's Alliance, APICAT, the SAMA Foundation the Science and Management of Addictions Foundation, and the University of Washington's Innovative Programs Research Group - along with the ACLU - want to make sure the LCB limits the "scale and volume of marijuana produced," adopts "advertising regulations that minimize exposure to people under 21 years of age," and "incorporates lessons from the regulation of alcohol and tobacco," according to the press release.
"Much of the public discussion of Initiative 502 has focused on business opportunities and potential tax revenue," said Alison Holcomb, drug policy director for ACLU of Washington and author of the initiative, in the press release. "We want to highlight the features that are intended to promote positive public health and safety outcomes for our communities."