News / USA

Washington State Gears Up for Marijuana Industry

Washington State Gears Up for Marijuana Industryi
X
April 22, 2013 2:59 PM
Washington is one of the two U.S. states where voters last year legalized the recreational use of small amounts of marijuana, even though the drug remains illegal under federal law. The other state is Colorado, and both are drafting regulations to govern cultivation and sale of the drug. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan visited Seattle in the northwest state of Washington, where officials expect a multi-million dollar marijuana industry to be in place later this year.
Mike O'Sullivan
Washington is one of the two U.S. states where voters last year legalized the recreational use of small amounts of marijuana, even though the drug remains illegal under federal law. The other state is Colorado, and both are drafting regulations to govern cultivation and sale of the drug. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan visited Seattle in the northwest state of Washington, where officials expect a multi-million-dollar marijuana industry to be in place later this year.

Medical marijuana already was legal in Washington and 17 other states. At a Seattle dispensary called The Joint, a steady stream of patients comes and buys marijuana in its many forms, including marijuana-laced cookies and cannabis-infused soda. Founder Shy Sadis hopes to expand to sell recreational marijuana.

“All around Washington, and eventually some day, possibly in Oregon, California, Colorado, wherever cannabis is legal,” he said.

Medical marijuana requires a doctor's recommendation, and dispensaries are set up as non-profit cooperatives. A different framework is being created for recreational marijuana, said Washington State legislator Roger Goodman.  

“We have to have regulations that put in place means to produce cannabis, to process it and to sell it, that's economical enough to be sold at a price that's lower than the black market, and yet a price that is high enough to deter youth consumption,” said Goodman.

Under the new Washington state law, adults can possess about 28 grams of the drug. There is still no legal way to buy marijuana, however, except for medical use, until a production and distribution system is put in place in December.

Recreational marijuana will be controlled by the state liquor control board, and state officials are busy learning about cannabis and its effects on users. They face a steep learning curve. They have decades of experience with alcohol, but little with marijuana.

Recreational marijuana will be heavily taxed and the industry could be huge. State and local officials hope to gain hundreds of million dollars in needed income.  

They also hope to save money from not having to prosecute and jail marijuana users. Seattle city attorney Pete Holmes said marijuana laws have been applied disproportionately to racial minorities, as he saw upon taking office in 2010.

“That was an eye-opening experience for me, because of all the pending cases. Fifty-nine to 60 percent were against African Americans in a city with a seven percent African-American population, and a progressive city, I would add,” said Holmes.

Marijuana will be heavily regulated under the new law, and dispensaries will be barred from locations near schools and public parks.

Psychologist Steve Freng works for a joint federal-local law enforcement program called the Northwest High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, and said many questions about the new Washington State law remain unanswered.

“How demand may increase, how consumption and purchasing may increase, how it is going to impact folks under 21 years old, in much the manner that we are dealing with underage drinking right now,” he said.

Freng said at least 10 percent of users could become dependent on the drug. Supporters concede marijuana is a psychotropic substance that can alter perceptions and behavior. They say it is not for everyone, but insist that it is safer than alcohol or aspirin.

A medical marijuana user, 68-year-old James Higgins, thinks legalization is a good thing.

“They will put no more people in jail for an ounce of weed [marijuana] or a couple of joints [marijuana cigarettes]. I think it is a good deal that it is legalized. It is going to help the economy and the people,” he said.

Activist Greta Carter said these are exciting times in Washington State. “But also a very heavy responsibility that we do it right, do it conservatively.”

No one knows how federal law enforcement will react to the new state laws in Colorado and Washington. The U.S. Department of Justice has promised a statement soon, and Seattle city attorney Pete Holmes hopes they will wait and see how these social experiments develop.

You May Like

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows to Fight IS 'Until They Are Killed or We Die'

In wide-ranging interview with VOA Persian service reporter, Fuad Masum describes conflict as new type of fight that will take time to win More

Video Russian Anti-Corruption Campaigner Slams Putin’s Crackdown on Dissent

In interview with VOA Alexei Navalny says he believes new law against 'undesirable NGOs' part of move to keep Russian president in power More

Video On The Scene: In Ethiopia, 'Are You a Journalist?' Is a Loaded Question

VOA's Anita Powell describes the difficulties faced by reporters in fully conveying the story in a country where people are reticent to share their true opinions More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs