The Washington State Marijuana Retail Licenses Lottery begins today with a total of 334 retail licenses to be awarded. Washington State University’s Social and Economic Sciences Research Center will be conducting the lottery for the state’s liquor control board, which oversees the marijuana retailers once they become licensed.
Approximately 1,500 applicants are in the lottery pool. With such a large applicant pool, the lottery process is expected to take all week with the board reviewing background checks on not only the applicants, but also their investors and financiers. The Washington State Liquor Control Board says, “The process will be extremely secure and will determine who gets a retail license to sell pot legally in Washington.”
“Legally” is the key term here. This lottery marks the beginning of WA businesses controlling the marijuana market and taking it out of the hands of criminals. Since small amounts of marijuana possession were legalized on Dec. 6, 2012, Washington residents have been acquiring marijuana through unlicensed, illicit dealers.
Final results of the lottery will be released on May 2, and the state expects to have the first marijuana stores open sometime in July of 2014, in accordance with the Implementation of I-502.
The annual WMUR Granite State Poll released Wednesday by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center shows a growing majority of New Hampshire adults support making marijuana legal and regulating it like alcohol.
The survey found 55% percent support making possession of small amounts of marijuana legal in New Hampshire — up from 53% in 2013 — and 67% approve of marijuana being sold in licensed retail outlets and taxed at levels similar to alcohol if marijuana possession becomes legal.
The poll also found that three out of five New Hampshire adults (61%) support House Bill 1625, a measure approved by the State House of Representatives and now being considered by the Senate that would reduce the penalty for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana to a $100 civil fine. Currently, possession of any amount of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $2,000. New Hampshire is the only state in New England that treats simple marijuana possession as a criminal offense with the potential for jail time.
The poll of 510 randomly selected New Hampshire adults was conducted March 24-April 1 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3%. The entire poll is available at http://cola.unh.edu/survey-center/most-granite-staters-support-changes-states-marijuana-laws-4914.
A report released yesterday by Rhode Island-based OpenDoors estimates that passage of the Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act will generate between $21.5 to $82 million in annual tax revenue. Although it would not completely solve Rhode Island’s budget woes, revenue from legal sales of marijuana to adults could help ease the financial burdens the state is facing.
Every day across Rhode Island, otherwise law-abiding men and women purchase and consume marijuana illegally. Proceeds from these sales go untaxed and only serve to enrich criminal actors. Bringing adult marijuana sales above board allows the state to tax both wholesale and retail marijuana transactions and provides much greater transparency over who sells it, where, and to whom.
In addition to the generating revenue, passage of the Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act will create hundreds of jobs in an emerging industry.
The New Hampshire House Ways and Means Committee voted to amend HB 492, which would make marijuana legal and regulate it like alcohol, in order to simplify the tax structure and regulatory language. The committee then voted 14-5 to recommend that the House not pass the bill, which would also allow people 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of marijuana. The House is not bound by this recommendation, and will vote on whether the bill should progress to the Senate soon.
The committee’s amended bill taxes and regulates marijuana by imposing a standardized $60 per ounce tax on growers. Advocates claim the tax will generate approximately $25 to $30 million annually.
MPP’s Matt Simon commented that, “Even with a negative recommendation, this thoughtful amendment will make it much more likely that the bill will receive continued support from the rest of the Legislature. We are optimistic that New Hampshire lawmakers will recognize that their constituents do not want to see adults arrested for using a substance that is safer than alcohol.”
When the bill returns to the House, it will have a battle with its new amendments, especially since it passed the House with a 170-162 vote on January 15. Sixty percent of New Hampshire adults support HB 492, according to a WMUR Granite State Poll released in October by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center. Just 36% said they are opposed. The entire poll is available at: http://cola.unh.edu/sites/cola.unh.edu/files/research_publications/gsp2013_fall_gastaxpot102513.pdf.
Denver, Colorado is hosting the first ever marijuana industry job fair this Thursday. Fifteen major marijuana-related companies will be searching for qualified applicants at 1058 Delaware St. from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. These burgeoning companies have hundreds of positions to fill, which range from accounting to technology, cultivation, and retail.
Event planners expect more than 700 applicants to attend. CannaSearch comes at a vital time as the U.S. economy struggles to regain its foothold. In a job climate of much-needed growth, the marijuana industry presents a solution while taking the revenue out of criminals’ hands and putting it in legal businesses.