(CBS) SEATTLE - This week Washington State's Liquor Control Board released proposed regulations for the use and distribution of marijuana. The move comes nearly a year after the state became one of the first to vote to allow recreational use of the drug.
Last fall, residents of Washington and Colorado voted to legalize some recreational use of marijuana, which is still a federally controlled substance. Last week, the U.S. Department of Justice announced it won't intervene to block state pot laws or prosecute as long as states create strict and effective controls aimed at, among other things, preventing the drug from getting in the hands of children and keeping it off federal property.
Washington State officials have until Dec. 1 to create key regulations, and on Wednesday we were given some initial insight into what those restrictions may be.
The Los Angeles Times reports that the proposed regulations would allow the state to open as many as 334 marijuana distribution stores. The first could open as early as next spring.
Officials reportedly assessed population density and geography in determining how many retail pot stores would be allowed and where they could be located. They also weighed rules regarding how close a store should be to youth-friendly establishments, including schools and parks, the paper reports.
Child-resistant packaging and packaging limits were also discussed in the proposed regulations. The LA Times reports that all marijuana sold would be required to be lab-tested and approved, and that all license applicants would be required to undergo criminal background checks.
A controversial issue that the proposed regulations touched on was the legality pot growing and outdoor pot farms in particular.
The LA Times reports the state would cap the total marijuana production at 40 metric tons in 2014 and limit farms to growing a maximum of 30,000 square feet, or less than an acre of the drug. This is a point of contention since some growers view the regulations as being more favorable to indoor growing operations, and say the limit on farm size limits potential revenue.
Alex Cooley, vice president of Solstice, a Seattle-based medical pot cultivation company, told the paper that while he understands the regulations on farm size are to "prevent a monopoly," he says it "disproportionately limits the success of producers."
Advocates of medical marijuana are reportedly also concerned about the new regulations surrounding use of marijuana. The LA Times reports some are concerned that medical marijuana - which has been legal in Washington since 1998 but is largely unregulated - could have its supply diminished due to the new legality of recreational use.
While there are many concerns at both the state and federal levels surrounding regulations for the use and distribution of marijuana, leaders in both Colorado and Washington have assured the government that strict regulations will be imposed, the Justice Department said in a release last week.
Washington State officials have until Dec. 1 to present those key regulations.