Rick Garza of the Washington Liquor Control Board said Monday he expects the federal government will try to take action if Washington’s system has loose controls. He says it’s important for Washington to have a strong regulatory structure that would limit how much marijuana is grown to ensure that it’s only meeting demand for in-state users.
I-502 already codifies a lot of the specifics of the regulatory scheme, but also leaves a lot up to the discretion of the state liquor control board. If you look at the text of the new law [PDF] on page 18, you’ll see the following:
NEW SECTION. Sec. 10. The state liquor control board, subject to the provisions of this act, must adopt rules by December 1, 2013, that establish the procedures and criteria necessary to implement the following:
(3) Determining the maximum quantity of marijuana a marijuana producer may have on the premises of a licensed location at any time without violating Washington state law;
That section also deals with how the LCB can regulate other parameters of a legal marketplace, including how many retail outlets will be allowed in an area and how marijuana can be advertised. If Garza is speaking with knowledge of what Holder is planning to do, this is a good sign that they’re willing to tolerate I-502’s implementation.
On the other hand, what could end up happening is that we’ll get overly restrictive regulations based upon a fear that Washington will become a supplier for other states. If that’s the case, we’ll be the pioneering state for all of this, but we might end up with an archaic and inefficient regulatory model similar to what we previously had for liquor, while other states are freer to set up smarter regulations when they later take this step.