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Liquor Control Board swamped with comments on pot rules


Everyone waits until the last minute. That apparently was the case with reaction to proposed rules for the legal sale of marijuana in Washington. 

As Monday's deadline for public comment approached, the  Washington Liquor Control Board received so much input on its first draft of rules that it plans to delay the final draft of the regulations. 

Minority leaders were among those expressing concern about how the new marijuana law will be implemented.

They supported Initiative 502, which legalized the sale and use of recreational marijuana, because of concern over the disproportionality of marijuana arrests, concern that minorities, particularly African Americans, were more likely to be busted for pot than whites.

Now that the law has passed, minority groups are urging the Liquor Control Board to be aware of possible “unintended consequences” of the law. 

Gwen Allen-Carston, Executive Director of the Kent Black Action Commission, worries that young people caught with a little over the allowed amount of marijuana will still face disproportionately harsh penalties.

“The whole process needs to have that in the back of their minds that we really don’t know how this is going to work out and,  if it works out another way than what we envision or what we plan, let’s be flexible or changeable enough that we can do something about that,” said Allen-Carston.

In a letter to the Liquor Control Board, Allen Carston’s organization, along with groups including the local NAACP and Mothers For Police Accountablity, urged the Liquor Board to do a better job of including communities  impacted by the War on Drugs in rule making.

The groups also asked the Liquor Board to do what it can to reduce drug use by limiting the availability of legal marijuana. Among other things, the groups suggested decreasing the hours of  operation of marijuana retail outlets and avoiding concentrating stores in minority communities and neighborhoods

Paula is a former host, reporter and producer who retired from KNKX in 2021. She joined the station in 1989 as All Things Considered host and covered the Law and Justice beat for 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.