Possible Job Opening: Liquor Control Board Pot Enforcer

If the Liquor Control Board gets what it wants, the agency tasked with overseeing the implementation of Washington’s I-502 - which legalized recreational marijuana use for adults – could soon be hiring.

As The News Tribune’s Jordan Schrader reports today, the Liquor Control Board plans to ask Gov. Jay Inslee to include money in his forthcoming budget adjustment “to keep or hire 46 more employees next year.” According to Schrader’s story, “The biggest share of staff would make up an enforcement unit whose officers would oversee the businesses sprouting up to grow and process pot,” while a “smaller number of new officers would join a unit that today checks grocery stores and bars for compliance with the law, but whose mission is expanding to include pot shops.” In total, the LCB is looking for more than $6.5 million from Inslee, who in December will unveil a plan to adjust state spending through June 2015.

From Schrader’s story:

“We’re going to try to have a high level of scrutiny for the retail operations, especially initially,” said Justin Nordhorn, chief of enforcement and education for the state Liquor Control Board, who plans to have officers check each store at least three times a year while also making educational visits to explain the rules. “I think those retailers can probably expect five to six visits in that first year, at least.”

In addition to new hires and more money, the Liquor Control Board also wants the authority to underage buyers into pot stores on busts, to make sure the state’s new weed dealers are playing by the rules established under I-502, which only legalized pot use for those 21 and older. Obviously, enforcement is a priority as the state gets into the pot business, as the federal government has indicated that if Washington allows pot to slip past state lines or into the hands of kids a crackdown would be likely.

“We know the feds have said that we have got to do this right. If we make any mistakes, then they pull the rug out from under us,” Enumclaw Rep. Chris Hurst tells Schrader.

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