To help, MRSC has put together a comprehensive guide for local governments on how to implement recreational marijuana on the municipal level. In the following web pages you find basic information about implementation, regulatory documents, sample ordinances, and more. Using this information we hope that your municipality can develop the right set of policies for your community.
Click on any of the headers below for more information related to recreational marijuana in Washington State.
I-502 provides for a 1,000 foot buffer separation between licensed marijuana businesses and designated, schools, parks, recreation centers, etc. All licensed marijuana businesses will need to comply with local government land use and zoning regulations. There is a regulatory process established for local government agencies to object to the proposed issuance of a marijuana business license to a specific individual or for a specific location within their jurisdiction.
For more information, see our page on Marijuana Land Use Issues.
The state liquor control board is starting to issue licenses for marijuana producers, processors and retailers. Building inspectors and local government officials need to be aware of relevant code issues raised by this new industry -- and local governments must understand which code requirements are enforced by local governments and which are enforced by state agencies.
For more information, see our page on Marijuana Regulatory Compliance Issues.
I-502 legalized the possession and private recreational use of marijuana. Police officers may arrest individuals for driving under the influence of marijuana and issue citations for consuming marijuana in public. The Washington State Liquor Control Board has until December, 2013, to establish the procedures and criteria for issuing licenses to produce, process, and sell marijuana. Until retail stores licensed by the Liquor Control Board are open for business, there is no legal way to obtain the drug for non-medicinal use.
For more information, see our page Enforcing Recreational Marijuana.
I-502 does not change employers' rights under Washington law, and marijuana remains illegal under federal law. The initiative is silent on the topic of drug testing. Where in force, federal regulations may still prohibit use and mandate testing for marijuana.
For more information, see our page on Marijuana in the Workplace.
Revenues from the excise tax on marijuana will be distributed primarily to the Liquor Control Board for administrative expenses, to the state's Basic Health Plan, to the state general fund, and to health-related programs. B&O and local retail sales taxes apply.
For more information, see our page on Taxing Recreational Marijuana.
The federal government, through the Department of Justice, has indicated a willingness to allow this new approach toward marijuana being pioneered by the States of Washington and Colorado. However, the federal government has indicated a number of concerns, which seem to be addressed by the provisions in initiative 502 and the proposed rules being adopted by the Liquor Control Board.
For more information, see our page on Federal Response to State Regulated Marijuana.
I-502 makes no mention of medical marijuana. Washington's Medical Use of Marijuana Act (Ch. 69.51A RCW) remains unchanged. Medical marijuana dispensaries will not automatically become retail marijuana stores, but it is possible that a medical marijuana collective garden/dispensary could change to being a recreational marijuana retail store if the owner obtained a state license for the sale of recreational marijuana.
For more information on I-502 and medical marijuana, see our page on Medical v. Recreational Marijuana.
We are attempting to provide accurate and complete data from all jurisdictions in Washington: please provide MRSC with your relevant ordinances or other documents by sending them to Josh Mahar, MRSC Outreach Coordinator. Updates to our data, questions, and comments all welcome.