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

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership 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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid