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WA Marijuana Legalization Plan Moving Forward Posted by CN Staff on January 23, 2013 at 06:40:47 PT

By Valerie Bauman, Staff Writer

Source: Puget Sound Business Journal


cannabisicon.gif Washington State -- Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee is advising the State Liquor Control Board to move forward on initial steps for creating a legal recreational marijuana market after a visit in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.


“I went into this believing our state should move forward with the rule-making process,” Inslee said in a phone call with reporters Tuesday afternoon. “Nothing in our discussion dissuades me from that.”


The state is still in the earliest phases of working with the federal government to create a legal state marijuana system that won’t bring on a federal lawsuit. Recreational marijuana use is still prohibited under federal law, even though Washington state voters in November passed a state law legalizing it.


Inslee, who was joined on his trip to D.C. by newly elected state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, said he is planning for ongoing conversations with Holder about the issue.


The Department of Justice declined to comment on the conversation.


“My belief is that we have a leader in the Department of Justice who has an honest intent to fully understand what we're trying to do in the state of Washington,” Inslee said. “I think that’s a good sign.”


The meeting was an opportunity for Inslee to walk Holder through the state’s detailed plan for creating a new marijuana industry, which would have the state issuing producer licenses to qualified applicants by August.


Inslee noted that the state has a number of deadlines even before the licensing process. That includes the hiring of a marijuana consultant and the creation of rule language for processor, retailer and producer licenses, among other milestones.


“I think it’s fair to say that Attorney General Holder understood that we would need some clarity from the federal government in the next few months,” Ferguson said.


Inslee said Holder had particular interest in regulatory efforts the state would institute, for example, measures to ensure marijuana would stay in Washington; provisions for minors; and the proximity to schools that any retail outlets would be able to have.


Inslee said Holder didn’t demonstrate a leaning either way on the issue at this point. He did demonstrate a desire to "fully understand the facts, to make a decision based on policy that looks at the specific facts of this case, not basing it on any sort of ideological or broad brush,” Inslee said.


Ferguson said it’s too early to get into specifics of possible legal defenses the state could take if the federal government does sue over I-502.


“I made clear to Attorney General Holder, if it comes to it, the attorney general’s office in Washington State will be prepared if we need to go to a legal fight,” Ferguson said.


Ferguson and Inslee both stressed that they would like to avoid any legal battles with the federal government, but reinforced a commitment to upholding the mandate of voters.


“I will make sure, to the extent humanly possible, that this initiative moves forward,” Inslee said.

Valerie Bauman covers nonprofits and health care for the Puget Sound Business Journal.

Source: Puget Sound Business Journal (WA)

Author: Valerie Bauman, Staff Writer

Published: January 22, 2013

Copyright: 2013 American City Business Journals

Contact: seattle@bizjournals.com

URL: http://drugsense.org/url/l6rBjoh3

Website: http://www.bizjournals.com/seattle/news/

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