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Published on Friday, February 8, 2013

Marijuana discussion continues at the Legislature

The Legislature has had many work sessions in various committees during the past couple of weeks in which experts and stakeholders have spoken on the implementation of Initiative 502.

Rick Garza, Deputy Director of the Liquor Control Board (LCB), spoke at many of these events. Right now the LCB’s main focus is the implementation timeline for the licensing system and public awareness. The LCB is tasked with having all licensure in place by December 1, 2013. Working backwards from that date, the LCB developed a plan to begin licensing producers, processors, and retailers. Along with the licensing process, the LCB must develop regulations and limits for marijuana products - mostly dealing with the potency and amount of ingredients that can be used in the solid and liquid marijuana-infused products.

Impaired driving

Rep. Goodman (D-Kirkland) held a work session geared specifically toward impaired driving and marijuana. A panel of law enforcement including Washington State Patrol, Olympia Police Department, and the state toxicologist spoke on the issues. The law enforcement representatives reiterated that they are more focused on the actual impairment level than on the per se THC level. Regardless of the amount of marijuana a driver has consumed, law enforcement is trained at a basic level to detect when a person’s ability to operate a vehicle is impaired.

Law enforcement and prosecutors reported no increase in impaired driving related to marijuana at this point, but stress that it is still too early to tell how legalization may impact this statistic. Public defenders testified that when marijuana is involved in impaired driving charges that also involve alcohol, the officer will often just stick with the alcohol charge, if the breath alcohol concentration (BAC) is over the legal limit of 0.08.

A recording of this hearing can be found here.