Growing and Selling Green in the Evergreen State (I-502)
For the record: I’m not a pot smoker. I do, however, have nothing against pot, nor people who smoke it responsibly. I have many friends and acquaintances who possess a fondness for the herb, and since weed was legalized for recreational use in my home state of Double-u Aye, some of these buddies and pals have taken the notion that they can now make a little (or perhaps a shit load) of extra money growing some kind ganja and selling it to all the local potheads. Well, not so fast, Cheech. While it is now legal within Washington to possess up to an ounce of marijuana for personal use, it is, at this time, still illegal to grow or sell for purposes of recreation. “Oh, but that will change in 2014,” you exclaim happily.
Yes. It will change. But it won’t change in a way that allows you to legally grow your own hydro for personal use or sale. I hate to be a buzzkill, but when the production and sale of marijuana does become legal under state law next year, it will be so tightly regulated that the average aspiring grower or distributor won’t stand a chance in Hell of legally selling so much as a nicklebag from a single plant in the backyard. So don’t go quitting your day job.
“But I’m willing to abide by the regulations,” you confidently reply. “I’ll do whatever I gotta do!”
I admire your determination. Okay then, it’s time to get started.
The first thing you will need to do is devise a plan of operation. You will, of course, need land to grow your plants. You will need to build greenhouses on this land. Solid walls at least eight feet high will have to be built all the way around this land in order to keep your grow operation out of public view, and to discourage thieves from coming in and stealing your sticky icky. Security cameras, you will need lots of them. The entire operation must be monitored 24/7. Your cameras must be of a high resolution, each capable of viewing a minimum distance of twenty feet in complete darkness. You will need a quality control lab and technician to assure that each and every “serving” of weed contains 5 milligrams of THC, and no residue from pesticides or other potentially harmful chemicals. You will be required to show your ability and methods for stringent record keeping, as the product must be traceable “from seed to sale.” You will need to provide suitable transportation of your product to processors or distributors. You will need to show proof of insurance. You must consider waste removal, on-site communications, sanitary standards, testing procedures, safety and fire codes, and everything else that goes along with maintaining this type of business operation.
Once you have your plan all worked out, you will need to file a license application with the Washington State Liquor Control Board. You may (after September 16; the board isn’t accepting applications before then) apply for a license to grow, a license to process, or a license to sell. It is possible to simultaneously possess both a license to grow and a license to process, but you may not have a license to sell and grow or process. Your dream of legally growing and selling ends right there.
So now you must pick which license you wish to acquire. Since selling contains a whole other set of regulations I won’t get into here and now, you might decide to just go ahead and apply for a grow license. After you pay the $250 application fee and have submitted your fingerprints to both the State Police and FBI, you now must agree to a criminal background check. The Liquor Control Board will use a point system to determine if your criminal background disqualifies you for a license. If you earn eight or more points under this system, so long, Mr. Entrepreneur. You’re out 250 bucks and a whole lot of business planning.
Here is how points are assigned:
If you have been convicted of a felony within the past ten years, boom…12 points.
A gross misdemeanor conviction within the past three years will earn you 5 points per conviction.
A misdemeanor conviction within the past three years will get you 3 points per conviction.
If you are currently under federal or state supervision for a felony, have 8 points and go home.
Failure to disclose any of the above information will earn you 4 points per failure.
So what if you pass the criminal background check and the board ends up loving your business plan and decides to issue you one of the very few licenses that will be issued in the state? Congratulations! The only thing left to do now is pay the 1000-dollar license fee and put out the additional tens of thousands of dollars to make your plan a reality.
“But I only want to grow a plant or two for my own personal use,” you whine in discouragement. “I’m not interested in sharing my sweet Mary Jane with anyone else.”
Then go ahead and grow it. But know that it’s just as illegal as it ever was. If you want to obtain pot legally in Washington State, you’ll have to do it from a licensed distributor.
Selling it outside of a licensed shop is also as illegal as ever. The cops will still lock you up and fine the bejeezus out of you if you get caught.
So there you have it. So what if you can’t grow your own weed for personal use or sale. At least you can go to the store and buy an ounce of the good shit without being thrown in prison for years of your life. Rejoice!
By the way, I’m not a lawyer. If you want solid legal advice on the matter, consult a licensed attorney.
Here are a couple of great links that explains things in detail. Happy toking!