Washington Lawmakers Consider New Pot Regulations

By Alexandra Kocik

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington state regulators could consider the criminal backgrounds of people looking to legally sell marijuana. That’s one provision of a bill rolled out Tuesday in Olympia to regulate pot sales.

Rep. Christopher Hurst. By Alexandra Kocik.
Rep. Christopher Hurst highlights how the proposed distance changes will affect the Capitol Hill area of Seattle at a press conference on March 12, 2013. By Alexandra Kocik.

The bill would make a number of changes to Initiative 502, the marijuana law approved by Washington voters last November. It would make siting a pot store easier by decreasing the distance the businesses have to be from schools, parks and other public areas. The measure would also give the Washington Liquor Control Board more power to decide who can legally sell marijuana. Rep. Christopher Hurst says the agency should be able to deny a license to prospective pot retailers with long rap sheets.

Christopher Hurst : “The Liquor Board has been real clear about that. They’re not going to allow dirty money to capitalize these operations.”

Hurst also wants to vary the cost of official pot-selling certificates based on location. That way the state could earn more revenue from proposals for stores in high-traffic areas. This bill would change a voter-approved law so to pass, it requires a two-thirds majority vote from both the House and Senate. A hearing is scheduled for next week.
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