Not unexpectedly, Washington state has released a stringent set of preliminary guidelines for the consumption, production, processing, and distribution of its newly created marijuana industry. Voters last year paved the way for the full legalization of the drug by referendum, and this set of guidelines is primarily designed to keep the federal government at bay next year when the referendum is put into place.


While some will certainly argue that these measures will take the fun out of selling drugs, these concerns will certainly be tempered by the fact that it will keep growers and sellers, in theory, out of federal prison. The U.S. government still considers marijuana a Schedule I narcotic, and maintains that no state has a right to legalize it. Even though Oregon state passed a referendum to allow doctor assisted suicide, or euthanasia, that didn’t stop federal agents under Attorney General John Ashcroft from arresting the same doctors who aided their terminal patients.

Sellers of marijuana will have to ply their wares over  1,000 feet from schools, playgrounds, child care centers, public parks and libraries. Stores will only be allowed limited signage and will not be permitted to have their products visible from the street.

No one under the age of 21 would allowed in the stores, processing facilities or growing areas.

“I don’t think you could design a system with more integrity,” said Governor Jay Inslee.

I’ve never met a dope smoker or grower who was fantastic with follow through, rather, I’ve met a number who take procrastination to a new level. Washington state will not be suffering that gladly. Paperwork and background checks are part and parcel of the proposed guidelines.

Quality control and record-keeping will also be extensive, including monthly tax reports and systems that will track the product “from seed to sale,” recording dates of planting, harvesting and transporting.

For those wishing to receive a license, they should expect a number of hoops that they will be forced to jump through. They can’t have a felony conviction in the last 10 years, and a point system will also restrict those with a combination of misdemeanors and gross misdemeanors in the last three years. Regulators are offering an amnesty for misdemeanor possession convictions for small amounts of marijuana, although not for other drugs, and a single conviction for growing marijuana may be excused. Fingerprints of all applicants will be submitted to the Washington State Patrol and the FBI.

By the looks of these guidelines and others, don’t expect smaller producers to and sellers to dominate the market.