FAQs on Cannabis

Frequently Asked Questions about Marijuana

Subtopics (links)

Licenses

When can I buy cannabis legally?

Recreational cannabis sales to the public began July, 8 2014.

What is a license? 

The law creates three separate tiers: cannabis producer, cannabis processor, and cannabis retailer. Specific license requirements are detailed in the rules which are available here. The best way to keep up to date on the process is to register for email notifications on the WSLCB website lcb.wa.gov.

How much does a license cost?

The law establishes a license application fee at $266 and a $1,062 renewal fee for each of the three licenses; cannabis producer, cannabis processor and cannabis retailer.

Can I hold all three license types?

Having all three licenses is not permitted. A licensee may hold both a producer and a processor license simultaneously. The initiative does not allow a producer and/or processor to also be a retailer.

How many producer and processor licenses will be issued?

No limit. The LCB opened a 30 day window in November 2013 where anyone could apply, and qualified applicants will receive licenses. 

Can I grow my own cannabis now? Can I sell my homegrown cannabis?

Home grown cannabis for recreational use, as well as sale, remains illegal. Recreational use cannabis must be purchased from a state-licensed retailer.

 

Retail Stores

Are there restrictions on where cannabis businesses can locate?

You cannot set up a store within 1000 feet of any elementary or secondary school, playground, recreation center or facility, child care center, public park, public transit center, library, or game arcade that allows minors to enter. Local authorities will also be notified and have an opportunity to object.

Note: Recent legislation allows local governments to pass an ordinance to allow for a reduction in the 1000-foot buffer requirements to 100 feet around all entities except elementary and secondary schools and public playgrounds.

Are the retail outlets run by the state?

Stores are licensed and regulated by the WSLCB but are private-sector businesses.

Can I incorporate cannabis sales into my existing business?

No. Retail outlets may only sell cannabis, cannabis concentrates, cannabis infused products and cannabis paraphernalia.

Can customers consume in a retail store?

No. On-premise consumption is not allowed.

Are there any restrictions on advertising?

Please see our Frequently Asked Questions on Advertising for more information. 

Are non-Washington residents able to purchase cannabis?

Yes, but the cannabis products are to be consumed in Washington.

 

Public Safety/Criminal

Note: The WSLCB is a licensing and regulatory agency and does not handle criminal prosecutions

What is the WSLCB doing to ensure public safety, especially preventing access by minors?

Public safety is central to the WSLCB mission. As expected by the voters, the rules we created include minimums for security, preventing minors’ access to cannabis and other provisions. Educating retailers and preventing minors access to cannabis is an important part of our enforcement work today. 

What is the DUI provision?

The initiative sets a per se DUI limit of "delta-9" THC levels at greater than or equal to 5 nanograms per milliliter of blood (5 ng/mL). State and local law enforcement agencies are tasked with enforcing the DUI limit.

Can I still be drug tested now that cannabis is legal

The law does not address the topic of drug testing but it is our understanding that employers may still conduct drug testing at their discretion. Since cannabis is illegal under federal law institutions that receive federal funds will still be subject to mandated testing. Organizations such as the NFL and NBA have issued statements that cannabis consumption is a violation of their conduct policy and they intend to continue testing for it.

The initiative says I cannot consume cannabis in public. What is the definition of “in public?”

The law states that it is unlawful to open/consume a package of cannabis or cannabis infused product in view of the general public.

Can cannabis purchased legally in Washington be transported to other states?

No. Marijuana and cannabis products are to be consumed in Washington State.

 

Federal Government

What is the federal government going to do?

On August 29, 2013 Attorney General Eric Holder called both Governors Jay Inslee and John Hickenlooper (Colorado) to outline the federal government’s guidance on legalized cannabis. That guidance was also outlined in a memo which focuses on eight points of federal emphasis such as youth access and public safety which the LCB’s rules address. The regulatory system for cannabis, and the rules written by the Board appears to meet those eight points. The memo does not change federal law. Governor Inslee’s office is maintaining an open dialogue with the federal government and the WSLCB is moving forward to carry out the expectations of the agency under the new law.

Since cannabis is legal in Washington can the federal government still prosecute me?

Yes. Washington's system of legalized cannabis does not preempt federal law. Presently Washington State residents involved in cannabis production /retailing could still be subject to prosecution if the federal government chooses to do so.

Can the federal government confiscate my assets?

Yes. Confiscation of assets is one of the enforcement tactics available to federal authorities.

What about industrial hemp? Does this create a new market for hemp products?

No. The law is focused on legalizing the recreational use of cannabis. The law modifies the definition of “cannabis” to include only cannabis greater than 0.3 percent THC concentration. Cannabis under this limit – industrial hemp – is not treated as recreational “cannabis.”

 

WSLCB Hiring

How can I apply for a job with WSLCB?

All job openings will be posted in the careers section of our website. The actual application process is done through Careers.wa.gov. Visit their website and fill out your profile in advance so you are ready when opportunities become available.

Does the WSLCB drug test new employees?

The WSLB does not drug test administrative staff at the time of hiring. However, we do test potential enforcement staff for drugs, including cannabis. The WSLCB is a drug-free workplace. All employees are expected to not be impaired at work. Should a reasonable suspicion arise that an employee is impaired, that person may be tested.

I’m an expert in the field of cannabis how can I be involved in the process?

Our rule-making system is a public process and we engage citizens along the way. Like hiring, the best way to keep up to date on the process is to register for email notifications. We will be sending out timelines and requests for public comment using email.

 

Financial

How much tax revenue will cannabis sales generate?

You can find the most recent financial data on our Frequently Requested Lists page. 

How is it going to be taxed?

Effective July 1, 2015, tax reforms defined in HB 2136 change the existing cannabis excise tax structure. A 37 percent cannabis excise tax must now be collected exclusively at the retail level. In addition, B&O taxes on the production and local retail sales taxes apply.

Marijuana tax rates are too high, can you lower them?

WSLCB officials do not have the authority to change the taxes. Any change to the tax structure would have to come from the legislature. 

Is CBD oil exempt from the 37% cannabis excise tax?

CBD oil that is sold at retail from within the state regulated system is subject to excise tax.

CBD products could be considered in the medically compliant product category if it meets the terms established by the Department of Health as medically compliant. When sold to a registered patient or registered caregiver, CBD compliant product in the medical system is sales tax exempt, not excise tax exempt.

The CBD import law that allows imported CBD to be used as an additive does not provide a tax exemption, as that product can only be added to other product already within the state system.

 

Insurance

Is product liability insurance required?

Commercial general liability or commercial umbrella insurance (if necessary for adequate coverage) is required for all licensees under WAC 314-55-082. Under subsection (1), licensees must at all times carry and maintain commercial general liability insurance and if necessary, commercial umbrella insurance for bodily injury and property damage arising out of licensed activities. This insurance shall cover such claims as may be caused by any act, omission, or negligence of the licensee or its officers, agents, representatives, assigns, or servants. The insurance shall also cover bodily injury, including disease, illness and death, and property damage arising out of the licensee's premises/operations, products, and personal injury. The limits of liability insurance shall not be less than one million dollars.

Product liability coverage is required as part of the general liability policy. Separate product liability coverage is not required under the rule so long as the commercial liability or umbrella coverage is sufficient. More information about insurance coverage for marijuana businesses is available at the Office of Insurance Commissioner’s website.

Should a producer or processor add a retailer to their insurance certificate?
No, each licensee should have their own insurance coverage for their own activities. Adding a retailer to a producer/processor’s insurance certificate would mean double coverage on products/activities and is not a common business practice and would be in conflict with the prohibitions in WAC 314-055-018.

 

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