Initiative 502 has a lot of Washington residents talking about pot

PULLMAN, WA - The Washington State liquor control board recently declared that 334 recreational marijuana shops can open up in the state.

Last week, we told you Asotin County can have two marijuana shops and the City of Pullman can have up to three.

Palouse Reporter Rachel Dubrovin explains how the Pullman City Council and local law enforcement are reacting to the new developments with initiative 502.

Initiative 502 has a lot of Washington residents talking about pot.

"Initiative 502 has a very detailed regulatory scheme for the recreational use of marijuana," said Pullman City Attorney Laura McAloon.

In Tuesday night's Pullman City Council meeting, McAloon explained that the Washington State Liquor Control Board will allow up to three recreational marijuana shops in the city limits. She says that number is based on Pullman's population, and estimated consumption.

"So you have a jurisdiction the size of Pullman with three licenses, with 29,000, or just under 30,000 in population with three licenses, and 89,000 up in Spokane Valley with three also," said McAloon.

McAloon reminded the council that it's still an illegal drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act.

"Federal authorities can still confiscate assets, they can still arrest," said McAloon.

But she said federal authorities will likely focus on specific areas of enforcement, like distribution to minors, and carrying legally purchased marijuana into states that don't allow it.

"Non-residents can purchase it in the state of Washington, but they then have to consume it in the state of Washington," said McAloon.

Bringing marijuana across the Idaho state line is also a concern for the Moscow Police Department.

"We do anticipate seeing a rise in misdemeanor possession cases, and also a rise in the DUI cases as well," said Moscow Police Department Lieutenant David Lehmitz.

Pullman Police Chief Gary Jenkins said the two departments will need to work together to enforce the new marijuana laws. Jenkins said illegal marijuana might become more of an issue as well, since the legal products will be taxed, and more expensive.

"We suspect that there will be some competition, and we will continue our enforcement efforts on illicit marijuana," said Jenkins.

The City Council plans to initiate a six-month moratorium on issuing licenses for recreational marijuana retailers at their next meeting. This would give Pullman's Planning Commission time to develop a set of rules regarding pot shops.

The Washington Liquor Control Board plans to start accepting applications from marijuana producers, processors, and retailers on November 18th. However, if Pullman passes their moratorium, no one will be able to apply for licenses in the city until May of 2014.