Federal permission slip leads to one change in Washington marijuana rules

Staff writerSeptember 13, 2013 

The federal government blessed Washington's marijuana experiment without demanding much change in the state's course.

But there is one tweak that state officials say they will have to make.

It has to do with the definition of the 1,000-foot buffer zone between state-licensed pot businesses and places where children tend to gather, such as schools, parks, day cares and arcades.

The Liquor Control Board plans to file an emergency rule that will allow the change to take effect just one day after the rest of the board's rules are in place.

Under the new rule, the 1,000 feet will be measured in a straight line, not over roads and walkways.

The as-the-crow-flies measurement may restrict some locations even though they are, say, on the other side of a highway from a school. But that's how the Department of Justice measures the distances, and U.S. Attorneys Jenny Durkan and Mike Ormsby made it clear they would enforce that standard.

"Obviously it could have some significance" for locations, liquor board director Rick Garza said, "but at the same time we want to make sure that we’re not in conflict with federal law and our licensees are not."

The DOJ announced two weeks ago it would not sue Washington and Colorado over their legalization laws as long as they kept pot in Washington, out of the black market and away from kids.

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