A meaningful marijuana milestone will occur July 24 when the Washington state agency charged with regulating the legal recreational pot industry will officially undergo a name change to become the “Liquor and Cannabis Board.”
The agency has been known as the “Washington State Liquor Control Board” since being formed in 1934 but has regulated recreational weed from the time it was legalized in November 2012. A state government agency’s formal name change to include the once taboo word “cannabis” further legitimizes marijuana reform across America.
Even more significant, the same law changing the name also expands the agency’s influence over Washington’s nascent legal pot industry.
By July 1, 2016, the Liquor and Cannabis Board must choose which unlicensed medical marijuana storefronts and providers will be awarded recreational licenses. The agency estimates that roughly half of the 825 unlicensed medi-weed shops applying will ultimately receive such licensing. The selection process is to be merit-based, and top priority will be given to those dispensaries that operated before 2013, have paid their taxes and already applied for a recreational license.
Over 1,000 unlicensed medi-pot shops won’t qualify for consideration because they were created too recently.
Further, the new law tasks the state Department of Health with determining what defines “medical-grade marijuana” and selecting a contractor to develop a patient registry. Being on the state registry better protects patients from arrest and permits them to possess amounts of cannabis beyond the legal limits.