State pot agency shares comments on enacting law

Liquor board to propose new rules at July 3 meeting

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Allow outdoor pot growing, and don't ban the sale of hash and hash oil.

And while you're at it, dump the state pot-leaf logo.

Those were among the most common suggestions in more than 1,000 pages of comments sent to state officials writing rules for a legal marijuana system for adult social use.

Members of the Liquor Control Board, the agency charged with creating a marijuana system, were briefed Thursday on the feedback to their initial draft rules.

The board is scheduled to formally propose rules on July 3.

The briefing highlighted three changes the liquor board staff experts will recommend and board members might adopt.

Environmental worries

Advocates for sun-grown pot, led by Jeremy Moberg of the Okanogan Cannabis Association, argued that indoor growing leaves a huge carbon footprint. They were joined by the city of Seattle and King County, which both cited environmental benefits of outdoor grows.

In initial rules, officials proposed allowing greenhouses with rigid walls, but no open-field growing. Their chief concern was security.

Karen McCall, the agency's rules coordinator, said staff experts are warming to sun-grown pot.

"With proper security, we feel outdoor grows would work, as well as indoor grows," McCall said.

In sheer number, the issue of hash and hash oil appeared to spark the most comments, overwhelmingly in favor of the stand-alone sale of marijuana extracts, specifically concentrated products such as hash oil.

The board had wanted to allow the stand-alone sale of concentrates, but said it would amount to breaking the new law, which does not include concentrates in what retail stores are allowed to sell.

The law does allow edibles and liquids infused with concentrates.

Commenters said banning hash and hash oil, popular with medical patients and younger users, would fuel the black market.

Some said hash oil is a healthier vehicle for consuming the chemicals in marijuana because it can be taken orally in precise doses.

One solution for advocates would be to urge legislators to tweak the law to allow the sale of stand-alone concentrates. Another solution would be to make clear that concentrates, combined with a small amount of inert oil, would qualify as legal — as long as they weren't 100 percent concentrates.

"Once the word gets out, I think that will calm a lot of people," McCall said.

Logo loathed

Some objected to the proposed logo that would go on state-regulated pot products. It shows a silhouette of Washington state featuring a seven-pointed pot leaf in the center. King County said the image promotes the notion that the state endorses pot and legitimizes youth use.

Staff experts recommended dropping the logo and coming up with another version. Randy Simmons, the state's marijuana-project director, said the logo's intent was not to endorse pot but rather to give parents a recognizable symbol to spot if minors were holding state-approved pot legal only for adults.

McCall noted that many comments concerned matters — such as the three-month residency requirement for those seeking pot business licenses — that are mandated by the law and can't be addressed by rules. They must be changed by lawmakers.

"These are the initial rules to get this industry up and running," she said. "These are not the last rules."