As of this week, call it "the Liquor-Cannabis Control Board, soon-to-be."
So said state Liquor Control Board chairwoman Sharon Foster on Tuesday as she welcomed the consultants selected to advise the state on the implementation of legalized marijuana.
"Its time that we start setting the rules, she said at a news conference at the boards Olympia headquarters.
Initiative 502 Implementation Project Manager Randy Simmons introduced the selected consultancy, BOTEC Analysis Corp. of Cambridge, Mass.
He noted that BOTEC was selected from 112 vendors who submitted proposals seeking to act as the states consultant to research and write the rules and regulations that will guide the board as it makes decisions concerning the production and sale of legalized cannabis products as mandated by state voters last November.
BOTEC scored highest in each of four categories listed by the state in its request-for-proposal, Simmons said. The consultancy was also the first choice among each of eight persons reviewing the 52 proposals deemed worthy of consideration.
The four categories included product and industry knowledge, product quality standards and testing, product usage and consumption and product regulation.
Of 1,100 possible points, reviewers gave BOTEC a total score of 985.41, nearly 60 points ahead of the second place proposal.
BOTEC said it would charge the state $292 per hour neither the most nor lest proposed to prepare its data.
Companies or individuals who were not selected have a chance to debrief with the board selectors, and, if they choose, to protest the decision. A final contract will be negotiated with BOTEC within the next few weeks.
The current timeline issued by the board calls for producer licenses being issued in August, with processor and retailer licenses issued in September. Sales to the public could begin as early as December or shortly thereafter, said Simmons.
BOTEC, said project manager Steven Davenport on Tuesday, is honored to have been selected as the consultant.
"This is a contract that we are thrilled to have, he said. Were really thrilled to have the opportunity to put a lot of ideas into practice. Ultimately our intent is to see that the board does this correctly.
He called the job ahead "an unprecedented challenge."
BOTEC project leader Mark Kleiman did not attend this weeks news conference. Kleiman was otherwise occupied with teaching duties at UCLA.
BOTEC it stands for "Back Of The Envelope Calculations" is a 30-year-old think tank headed by Kleiman, a UCLA public policy professor with a doctorate from Harvard Universitys Kennedy School of Government. The firm has evaluated government programs and provided consulting relating to drug abuse, crime and public health. It studied the results of an effort to crack down on heroin dealers in Lynn, Mass., and in the early 1990s advised the Office of National Drug Control Policy on drug-demand reduction programs.
Kleiman has written several books on drug policy and crime, including Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs to Know, and he has argued that states cant legalize marijuana federal officials would never stand for it.
"Pot dealers nationwide and from Canada, for that matter would flock to California to stock up, he wrote in an opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times in 2010, when California was considering legalizing marijuana. Theres no way on earth the federal government is going to tolerate that. Instead, wed see massive federal busts of California growers and retail dealers, no matter how legal their activity was under state law.
For that reason, some marijuana advocates questioned how committed his team would be to carrying out the will of the voters. But Alison Holcomb, the author of Washingtons new law, said the choice of a consultant who isnt a pot cheerleader sent a message that the state is taking its responsibilities seriously.
The BOTEC selection for Washington state is "the culmination of Dr. Kleiman's work, Davenport said.
The company will work with subcontracted consultants in each of the major categories listed by the state board. Among the subcontractors present Tuesday were:
Product and industry knowledge: Michael Sautman, former CEO of Bedrocan International, which worked internationally to standardize cannabis production;
Product quality and testing: David Lampach, Steep Hill Lab, a California firm that tests cannabis for potency and contaminants;
Product usage and consumption: Beau Kilmer, senior policy researcher at the RAND Corp., which has worked with the federal government on drug issues.
Among other consultants BOTEC listed in its application were Donald Abrams, MD, from San Francisco General Hospital; National Medical Services of Willow Grove, Penn.; Jerome Jaffe, former White House drug czar; and 2005 Nobel Laureate (Economics) Thomas Schelling..
Lampach, of Steep Hill Lab, told the assembled reporters that his company has tested some 30,000 samples. He, too, said it was an honor to have been selected, and noted, The worlds eyes are upon us and failure is not an option.
Kilmer, of the RAND Corp., said the upcoming work with BOTEC would be a very interesting project and that he would likely be using several means, including Web surveys, to determine usage numbers in the state.
Asked about the legality of cannabis given that it remains an illegal substance as defined by the U.S. Justice Department, Sautman said, Im not going to speculate on what the federal government will do.
Asked by a reporter if any of the consultants present at the news conference use cannabis, BOTECs Davenport declared, All of our consultants are law-abiding citizens.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
C.R. Roberts: 253-597-8535