Botec Analysis Corp., based in Cambridge, has evaluated government programs and provided consulting relating to drug abuse, crime and public health. Losing bidders for the contract can protest the award, but if it stands, Botec will advise state officials as they develop rules for the new industry of legal, taxed marijuana.
The Washington State Liquor Control Board scheduled an announcement on the award of the contract for this morning, but it sent an email to losing bidders Monday letting them know who won. A copy of the email was provided to The Associated Press.
Botec is headed by Mark Kleiman, a professor of public policy at UCLA.
Washington and Colorado last year became the first states to pass laws legalizing the recreational use of marijuana and setting up systems of state-licensed growers, processors and retail stores where adults 21 and older can walk in and buy up to an ounce of heavily taxed cannabis.
Sales are expected to begin at the end of the year at the earliest.
The votes left state officials with a daunting task: building a huge pot industry from scratch. The state’s Liquor Control Board must determine how many growers and stores there should be, how much pot should be produced, how it should be packaged, and how it should be tested to ensure people don’t get sick.
The board is doing a lot of its own research, with bureaucrats traveling to grow operations in California and Colorado as well as within Washington state, but input from the consultant will also be key. The state is aiming to produce just enough marijuana to meet current demand: Producing too little would drive up prices and help the black market flourish, while producing too much could lead to excess pot being trafficked out of state.
All the while, marijuana remains illegal under federal law.