OLYMPIA — Washington was the first in the nation to legalize recreational marijuana use, but image-conscious regulators think the cannabis-leaf logo designed for state-licensed pot merchandise conveys the wrong impression of the Evergreen State.
Dropping the marijuana leaf as an official state symbol was one of several changes contained in the latest draft of measures proposed by a three-member panel devising new regulations for the state’s nascent marijuana industry.
The proposals, released Wednesday and containing mostly minor revisions to an earlier plan, included rules governing cultivation, sales and taxation of pot due to take effect when state-licensed retail marijuana stores open next spring.
Washington and Colorado became the only two U.S. states to legalize marijuana for adult recreational use after approval by voters in November, though Washington’s law went into effect first.
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Both states, along with 16 others, also have legalized marijuana for medical purposes. The federal government, however, still classifies cannabis as an illegal substance.
The abandoned pot logo, which was to appear on any recreational-use marijuana or marijuana-infused product sold in the state, featured a pot leaf inside an icon of Washington state.
The intent behind the label was to make any cannabis-containing product easily identifiable, said Liquor Control Board spokesman Brian Smith.
But in a letter last month to the board, a group of drug prevention advocates, including Children’s Alliance deputy director Jon Gould, wrote that the logo could “reasonably be viewed as branding Washington ‘The Marijuana State,’ or as Washington proudly promoting marijuana use to the rest of the world.”
“A logo like this will undoubtedly end up on bumper stickers and T-shirts,” the letter continued.
The board has reserved the right to create a new logo, Smith said, which might feature a marijuana leaf but not coupled with an image of the state.
“We got the message about (including the state icon) being promotional,” he said.
“We do anticipate that the legislature will revise the language in the coming session,” Smith added.