Hoping that strict regulations of their recreational marijuana industry will hold off the federal government from interfering, officials in the state of Washington are looking to put tight controls on all aspects of the business.
Rick Garza of the Washington Liquor Control Board said Monday he expects the federal government will try to take action if Washington’s system has loose controls. He said it’s important for Washington to have a strong regulatory structure, such as how participants in the system are licensed and how the product is handled from growth to the point of sale.
“The feds are going to tighten the rope if they feel like it’s not strictly regulated,” Garza said. “The more tightly regulated it is, they are likely to give us a little more room.”
One of the biggest issues the state is looking to manage is how much marijuana will be grown under the new system. Garza said it’s important for officials to properly project consumption rates so the state is growing the right amount of product for in-state users and not having any extra supply that could spill into other states that haven’t legalized marijuana.
Garza’s comments came a day before Gov. Jay Inslee was set to meet with the U.S. Department of Justice to discuss the marijuana law. Washington voters approved the marijuana law in November, but Justice Department officials have not indicated whether they will allow Washington and Colorado to create legal marijuana markets, since the drug is illegal under federal law.
When it comes to the medical marijuana crackdown of the Obama Administration, the feds have shown a tendency to go after heavily-regulated states like Colorado just as easily as lightly-regulated states like California. But I’m sure officials in Washington would rather err on the side of caution, so if the threats and raids do come, they can point to their system and show heavy regulations in place.
It’s hard to imagine the federal government stretching law enforcement resources even thinner to go after recreational marijuana in Washington and Colorado, but the feds do illogical and wasteful things all the time, so we’ll have to wait and see.