Thursday, December 19, 2013
This week, our cover story gives you the abridged history of marijuana, looking back as we're at a crossroads in history. Will we get the legalization of marijuana right? Will the next generation shop for pot the way we do for alcohol, pouring tax dollars into state governments? The answers remain to be seen.
It's been a little more than a year since Washington's I-502 took effect and the Washington State Liquor Control Board will close the window for applications to grow, process or sell pot in the state Friday. (You can find a full list of applicants, last updated Tuesday, here.) The stakes are as high as ever as a new study shows Washington residents consume about 175 metric tons of pot, twice as much marijuana as was previously estimated.
Meanwhile, another conversation is taking place: What will become of Washington's currently largely unregulated medical marijuana market. A workgroup made of the Liquor Control Board and the state's departments of health and revenue were tasked with recommending a path forward to the legislature. Among the unanswered questions: Should the age limit of 21 that applies to recreational marijuana use also apply to medical cannabis? Should medical patients be allowed to continue growing plants at home? And should they be taxed at the same rate recreational users are?
Initially, the board's draft recommendations suggested doing away with home grows and collective gardens (fully integrating medical supplies with recreational), reducing the amount of marijuana a patient or provider can possess and taxing both types of product at the same rate, with some exemptions for medical marijuana. The new recommendations (PDF below) reverse course on home grows, suggesting the Legislature allow patients to grow up to six plants. Most of the remaining recommendations are the same. The state Legislature is expected to take up the issue when it reconvenes Jan. 13.