Last week, the Washington State Liquor Control Board released draft regulations for the legal cannabis market enacted by voters. The 46-page document specifies the qualification process for potential pot entrepreneurs—including fingerprints that will be sent to the FBI—requirements for growing and selling marijuana, and many rules about license objections, violations, and suspensions. Potential licensees will have a one-month window to apply, and if more retailers apply than the liquor board intends to license, they will conduct a pot-store lottery.
The good news for cannabis consumers is that your pot will be weighed on certified scales, tested by third-party laboratories, and not labeled organic unless certified so. The bad news for pot smokers—and the biggest shock in the draft rules—is that the liquor board proposes a ban on the retail sale of hash and hash oil.
This means the state could create a black market for popular cannabis products, which was the opposite of what voters intended when they passed Initiative 502. (Alternatively, tokers could obtain their hash on the gray market by obtaining a medical cannabis authorization, usually for $75 to $200.) Why propose these rules? In interpreting the law, the liquor board made a strange reading of the term marijuana-infused product, determining that marijuana concentrates don't actually "contain" marijuana, and therefore found that hash would be illegal while marijuana would be legal.
"My god, we have to fix this," says Brandon Hamilton from Washington Alternative Medicine, who operates one of the few supercritical CO2 hash oil extraction machines in the state. He says concentrates are more popular than ever with medical cannabis users, and consumers will continue to want hash oil once legal pot shops open. "It will be a big problem, because people are going to make concentrates no matter what. This needs to be permissible and regulated."
A wordy and tireless hash lover, I have unending semantic arguments about the state's interpretation of the word "contain." But the simple fact is that the people of Washington voted to end pot prohibition—a monumental mandate—and in its place the liquor board proposes a lighter form of prohibition, one where we can't obtain cannabis-containing extracts.
Damn it, liquor board: Don't screw this one up. Final rules are expected this summer.