Just days after the U.S. Justice Department said it would not sue to block legal pot so long as certain guidelines are met, Washington state regulators announced yesterday that they want to cap the amount of space available to grow recreational marijuana at two million square feet. The draft rules also stipulate that each facility not be larger that 30,000 square feet.
In addition to limiting the amount of space that can be allocated to growing recreational pot, regulators also want to cap the amount of non-medical marijuana grown statewide at 40 metric tons.
By proposing the limits, regulators claim they are seeking balance; they wish to produce enough pot to compete with the black market and the medical marijuana industry, while not growing so much that excess weed spills over into other states where it remains illegal.
The proposed rules will be subject to public hearings next month and are scheduled to become effective in November, two days before the state plans to start accepting pot license applications and a year after voters approved legalization.
The first retail stores will likely open next June, said Sharon Foster, chairwoman of the three-member Liquor Control Board.
The board said it plans to allow a total of 334 stores in the state, parceled out by county. To spread the stores out more evenly, some cities will have separate caps. Seattle, for instance, will be limited to 21 pot stores.