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Big Changes to I-502 Marijuana Growing Licenses Signal Issues for Some Would-Be Growers

Washington State is on the eve of handing out licenses under I-502, an initiative that makes the state among the first in the US to legalize the growth and sale of marijuana for recreational use. While I-502 was approved by general election on November 27, 2012, the road to developing a complete system for growing, distributing and purchasing has been an ongoing process.

On February 19 in an article published by King 5 News, the WSLCB announced that they would be limiting the size and number of pot growing operations set to begin production. With more than 2,800 applications received from would-be growers, the WSCLB faced an issue they weren’t prepared for.

According to King 5, the WSLCB had only projected 2 million square feet of pot to be grown annually, and didn’t foresee the roughly 36 million square feet that was actually applied for. Many larger operations applied for up to three licenses, which would allow them to legally produce up to 90,000 square feet. The board decision to limit grow sizes specifies that growers will only be allowed to produce 70 percent of the maximum sized area applied for. This means that the largest licenses available will allow for only 21,000 square feet to be used.

Under the WSLCB’s latest change to regulations, marijuana producer applicants will now be able to receive only one license, allowing up to 30,000 square feet of pot plants to be grown. In King 5’s article, WSLCB director Rick Garza stated that should Washington State end up needing more marijuana in the coming years, “the board could boost the growers up to the full amount of a single license – 30,000 square feet instead of 21,000, for the largest grows—or eventually start issuing multiple licenses.”

Producer licenses are expected to begin being awarded on March 1. The exact date that marijuana will go on sale at retail locations across the state is unknown, however, it is predicted that pot will be available for all legal adults by the end of this year.

We can expect to see many changes to the regulations surrounding the production and sale of marijuana in our state over the next year or more. The best way to make sure that you don’t find yourself on the wrong side of I-502 is to stay informed. For a detailed description of I-502, you can read the full bill request.

For a less dense overview of I-502, check out the WSLBC’s FAQs on I-502.