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State to eye rules to ban pot at bars

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Paula Wissel

  Washington state officials say it's not OK for bars to allow marijuana use, and they'll take quick steps to address that.

The announcement from the state Liquor Control Board on Wednesday followed a recent report by The Associated Press about establishments in Olympia and Tacoma that allow people to consume marijuana on-site.

But a worker at one such bar in Tacoma says the state’s efforts will do little good. 

"Shutting down cannabis being used where alcohol is, is not going to stop it. It’s just going to mean that we can't regulate it. Right now, we are trying to do that, and I think that's the best bet to go,” said Michael Schaef, who runs the vapor bar above Stonegate Pizza in Tacoma.

Schaef says he prevents overuse at his club by closing down at midnight—earlier than the rest of the bar. And, he says, his patrons who are using pot aren’t drinking very much; rather, they tend to order pizza to go with their cannabis.

Washington legalized pot for adults last fall, but public display and use of marijuana is barred under the law, punishable by a civil infraction carrying a $103 fine.

The Liquor Control Board's rules allow it to punish bars that allow criminal activity on-site, but not bars that allow civil infractions, and that's the loophole regulators intend to address.

Paula reports on groundbreaking legal decisions in Washington State and on trends in crime and law enforcement. She’s been at KNKX since 1989 and has covered the Law and Justice beat for the past 15 years. Paula grew up in Idaho and, prior to KNKX, worked in public radio and television in Boise, San Francisco and upstate New York.
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