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Pot: Washington law changes

The Washington legislature has a long ways to go to clean up the mess with the marijuana laws they themselves created. They made a few advances over the weekend.

The tax structure has been changed, amounting to a modest reduction for the consumer. It was 25% on the grower, 25% on the processor, and 25% on the retailer. Now it’s just 37% at the retail level. Consumers will see all the taxes on their receipt. (Remember WA has a 10% sales tax rate which also goes on marijuana).

Current medical marijuana stores that are allowed to stay in business will also pay the 37%, eliminating the advantage they had. Washington taxes will be closer, but still a tad more to those in Colorado.

To discourage local jurisdictions from banning marijuana businesses, the state will share a portion of their revenues to jurisdictions that have marijuana businesses. I doubt this will break the bans in most places, but it might help.

And the 1000-foot rule has been relaxed considerably. This said that marijuana businesses had to be at least 1000 feet away from schools, parks, daycares, anyplace that attracted kids. This proved to be a big challenge in trying to locate the businesses. If Washington’s new rules work, then the other states will make the same adjustment. Washington businesses must stay 1000 feet from schools, but only 100 feet from other activities. Without this loosening of the rules, there couldn’t be any way to accommodate the existing medical shops that are being sucked into the system.

While these changes will go a long ways to leveling the playing field between the two state-sanctioned marijuana distribution systems (retail and medical/black market), a lot more problems need to be addressed in Washington next year.

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