Feds Won’t Sue WA State Over I-502
Huge buzz today (couldn't resist the pun) over U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder's official announcement today that the Federal Government will not sue to block Washington State's Marijuana legalization plans already in process.
At least, not now...
The New York Times and CNN were quick to run stories on this ground-breaking news and this has to be a huge relief to the WSLCB and everyone involved in the process of getting business licensing ready for issuance later this year.
It's likely that WA State Governor Jay Inslee and his closest advisors knew of this outcome when they returned from Washington D.C earlier this year and met with Holder and others in the Justice Dept.
The WSLCB Wastes No Time Responding
Lending credence to the idea I just mentioned, the Washington State Liquor Control board issued the following press release within hours if not minutes of the Justice Department's announcement:
For Immediate Release
Liquor Control Board Statement following Department of Justice’s Guidance Memo on Marijuana
OLYMPIA – The Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB) issued the following statement regarding the Department of Justice’s announcement today.
The Washington State Liquor Control Board would like to thank the Obama Administration, particularly Attorney General Eric Holder and the Dept. of Justice for its guidance today.
We would also like to thank Gov. Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson for their leadership and efforts on this issue these past nine months. As Gov. Inslee stated today, the Department of Justice today helped lay a path forward for Washington and Colorado to implement its systems of producing, processing and retailing recreational marijuana.
The Board’s primary rule-making focus has been to create a tightly regulated market with emphasis on public safety and restricting youth access. In his letter, AG Holder shared the same concerns. We believe the action taken today by the federal government is the result of the conversations by our state elected leaders with the Dept. of Justice as well as the open and transparent system in which the rules have been crafted. The Board is confident that Washington’s recreational marijuana system will meet most, if not all, of the federal government’s stated concerns.
With the federal government’s approval the Board will continue to move forward and implement I-502 and carry out the will of Washington State voters.
It's still a weird situation - even if the Justice Department doesn't sue the state to block pot legalization, Marijuana is still classified as a class 1 narcotic and there's nothing stopping the feds from kicking down the doors of legitimately licensed Cannabis businesses and making arrests and confiscations.... in fact, I predict that will happen at some point leaving a whole host of people confused and scared.
On the other hand, the Fed's almost tacit compliance with Cannabis legalization in Washington State and Colorado could easily make people feel like the green light is on (couldn't resist that pun either) and the flood gates will open with people looking to profit from what is likely - if not certain - to be, a huge cash crop.
Compliance Likely a Huge Issue
If you read the document the Feds released today, they're emphasizing a number of concerns. For sure legal Cannabis businesses are going to be scrutinized by the Feds and the State - too much is at stake and this whole thing could collapse - so you can bet that the pressure will be on businesses to comply with various rules and regulations.
We'll keep you posted here and if you have any questions about getting your employees into proper compliance with the regulations for training and record keeping be sure to contact us here.