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The Liquor Control Board reorganizes, and four stores get busted after selling to minors

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A board by any other name

The Washington State Liquor Control Board is getting a makeover. In July, the agency tasked with regulating recreational — and soon medicinal — marijuana will become the Liquor and Cannabis Board.

No big deal? Not quite. The name change includes the word cannabis in a government agency's formal name, effectively breaking down cultural stigmas.

The agency, known as the Washington State Liquor Control Board since forming in 1934, began marijuana regulations since legalization passed statewide with I-502's approval in November 2012.

The name change comes at a tipping point for the board, which by July 2016 must choose which unlicensed medicinal dispensaries will be awarded recreational licenses.

The board estimates that about half — or 400 — unlicensed stores will receive legal operating status. The rest will close as a result of Washington's recent marijuana reform bill that effectively combines recreational and medicinal dispensaries.

Ready, set, sting

The soon-to-be Liquor and Cannabis Board conducted its first sting operations this month. The agency deployed investigative aides ages 18 to 21 into recreational marijuana stores to buy without a valid ID, therefore failing to indicate they were 21.

Four of the 22 dispensaries tested failed, even though stores were warned about the sting operations three days ahead of time. The initial sting took place in Skagit, Snohomish, Kitsap, Pierce and Cowlitz counties. Two shops in Everett and two shops in Tacoma were busted.

According to a statement from the board, the investigative aides told whoever was working the counter that they forgot their ID, or presented IDs that showed they weren't old enough to buy marijuana.

The four cited stores could face a 10-day suspension or a $2,500 fine, with the right to appeal. Employees who sold the marijuana will be referred to prosecutors for potential criminal prosecution. ♦

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