OLYMPIA, Wash. – The phone did not stop ringing in Olympia.
“Do you want to be a retailer, distributor, or manufacturer,” said Beth Lehman, as she talked to a caller in the Liquor Control Board Licensing Division office. She says dozens of people had called today in the aftermath of voter approved I-502.
The initiative will allow Washingtonians to possess an ounce of “usable marijuana” beginning on December 6.
However, the LCB has a year to devise a full licensing program, which includes a $250 application fee and a $1,000 annual renewal fee.
It could also been a boon for the department which nearly went bust due to the liquor privatization initiative last year.
“We will have to hire people. There will be staff expansion. How much we don’t know. We don’t know what the market will look like,” says Mikhail Carpenter, of the Liquor Control Board.
That’s because it’s still unclear if the Justice Department will try to curb cannabis use, which is still illegal under Federal law. It could potentially put State Employees in difficult position, licensing, and helping distribute an illegal substance.
U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan, through a spokesperson, wrote Wednesday that “enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act remains unchanged.”
“It does plainly set up a conflict with federal law,” said Seattle City Attorney Peter Holmes, “I guess I’m the eternal optimist it doesn’t require this to be a showdown.”
Dan Sytman, a spokesperson for the Washington State Attorney General’s Office, says, “Our position on all initiatives and referenda passed by the people is that they are legal.” He added that the office is prepared “to defend such measures in court.”
Read more about the WSLCB’s next steps: