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The Evergreen

Seattle Times coverage of pot policy, culture and lifestyle.

July 25, 2014 at 5:20 PM

Your questions on legal pot in Washington answered

Mark Boyer becoming the first man in Spokane to purchase pot from a retail shop. (Photo by Dan Pelle, The Spokesman-Review / Associated Press)

Mark Boyer becoming the first man in Spokane to purchase pot from a retail shop. (Photo by Dan Pelle, The Spokesman-Review / Associated Press)

It’s been a busy couple of weeks at The Evergreen. The first pot stores opened up, City Attorney Pete Holmes brought weed to work and Spokane’s first pot buyer got fired or fired himself, depending on whom you ask.

But we promised to answer as many questions as we could from readers. Better late than never. 

Q: WHY DID VOTERS IN WASHINGTON STATE APPROVE THIS STUPID INITIATIVE IN THE FIRST PLACE? – Michael

A: No need to shout, Michael. Fifty-five percent of voters approved Initiative 502 on November 6, 2012. During the campaign, I-502 proponents criticized the “war on drugs,” noted that minorities were being arrested on marijuana-possession charges at disproportionate rates and focused on strict industry regulations designed to keep kids from accessing pot.

Proponents raised more than $6 million during the campaign and out-spent those against the initiative.

Here’s an excellent rundown from campaign night by colleague Jonathan Martin.

Q: Is there a website where you can look up information on the businesses (retailers, producers, processors)? – Eli

A: There are several. First, we’ve put together a map of producers and processors as well as retailers. We’ll update these as often as we can.

The Liquor Control Board also has a master spreadsheet with every license application.

Q: Am I allowed to grow marijuana for personal consumption? – Mark

A: Yes, but only if you’re a medical marijuana patient. Patients can possess up to 15 marijuana plants. Medical marijuana regulations will likely be debated next legislative session, however.

Q: Is it legal to consume pot on your house boat? – John

A: That’s a tricky question. The answer largely depends on where your boat is located. If it’s in federal waters, that wouldn’t be legal. If you’re moored on Lake Union and not in view of the general public, you shouldn’t have a problem. Please don’t bong and boat.

A house boat on Lake Union. You should be able to consume pot here if you can't be seen by the general public. (Photo by Bettina Hansen / The Seattle Times)

A house boat on Lake Union. You should be able to consume pot here if you can’t be seen by the general public. (Photo by Bettina Hansen / The Seattle Times)

Q: Is there a website that shows the stores that are selling currently? Current prices etc? – JK

A: Leafly is a good source to find strains, stores and dispensaries. Make sure you’re searching for recreational pot if you’re not a medical patient.

Leafly's website.

Leafly’s website.

Q: Are there regulations about how many marijuana stores, medical and recreational, can be in a given neighborhood? – Liz

A: The Liquor Control Board decided to limit store locations not by neighborhood, but by county and city. For example, King County was allocated 61 store licenses and Seattle received 21 of those licenses.

Some neighborhoods will have disproportionately more pot businesses than others because they don’t have as many prohibited venues like schools, parks and transit centers. Pot businesses can’t be within 1,000 feet of those areas as part of the state’s effort to keep pot away from kids.

The Sodo neighborhood in Seattle, for example, is becoming a pot-business haven because it’s an industrial area where you wouldn’t expect to find children.

Q: I want to know if it’s legal for me to grow marijuana plants indoors as houseplants only. – Heidi

A: Hmm… that’s an interesting one. It seems unlikely that you’d go to the trouble if you didn’t plan to consume, but you could grow if you had a medical authorization. Home grows aren’t legal unless you’re a patient.

Q: Can you provide more insight into worker’s rights in relation to marijuana consumption? Do workers have any protections from being fired from random drug tests if they test positive for marijuana use? – Anonymous

A: If you’re going to partake and your company drug tests, you ought to talk to your boss. You don’t have any legal protections. Times reporter Andy Mannix recently dug into employer issues. His story.

Q: Is it written into I-502, or is it able to be amended, to prohibit tax revenue from pot sales going to cities or municipalities that have moratoriums or bans on the retail stores or production of the marijuana? – Gus

A: No, the initiative is not written to direct money away from cities or municipalities that don’t allow pot businesses. The money from pot excise taxes goes to the state and is earmarked primarily for prevention, research and health programs.

That doesn’t mean there’s not a penalty for those with moratoriums. Cities and municipalities won’t, of course, benefit from local sales taxes associated with pot businesses if they don’t allow them to operate.

Could I-502 be amended? Yes — the legislature can be amend the law with a simple majority once it has been on the books for two years.

Ask more questions: 

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Comments | More in Ask Us Anything | Topics: andy mannix, house boat, jonathan martin

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