On July 24, the organization that regulates cannabis in
Washington State will officially undergo a name change to become the Liquor and
Cannabis Board, and with the name change will come some important policy
changes as well.
The state board, which has
been called the Washington State Liquor Control Board since it formed in
1934 has always regulated cannabis, but now the new name is making it official.
However, the name change is not just all for show; it also gives the board more
power over cannabis legislation in the state.
The board will have until July 1, 2016 to decide which
dispensaries will be re-licensed, or receive licenses for the first time. So
far, it is estimated that only half of the dispensaries currently licensed will
be eligible to reapply, and that priority will be given to businesses that
started before 2013, as well as on a merit basis.
The agency will also be able to set a new precedence for
what they deem to be “medical grade marijuana,” meaning that they can claim
certain strains or grows are not safe for consumption. This could potentially
cause financial loss, as much of the cannabis being cultivated could be “branded”
as illegal and off-limits.
While regulations for the cannabis industry are certainly a
necessity, there are some obvious concerns over which direction the Liquor and
Cannabis Board will take in the coming months. As always, it’s our hope that fair
regulation for safe and accessible consumption will be put in place, but only
time will tell.