(Adds number of stores that could be licensed in total)
By Bryan Cohen
SEATTLE, June 24 Washington state, which is
moving forward on allowing stores to sell pot for recreational
use, will require child-resistant packaging on marijuana
products and prohibit images that could appeal to minors,
Governor Jay Inslee said on Tuesday.
The Democratic governor and other officials, speaking at a
news conference in the state capital of Olympia two weeks ahead
of the opening of the state's first marijuana stores, said their
primary goal is to keep the drug away from those under age 21.
Voters in Washington state and Colorado in 2012 became the
first in the nation to legalize recreational marijuana at the
state level, and Colorado has allowed sales of the drug at
retail stores for adult consumers age 21 and older since the
beginning of the year.
The drug is still banned under federal law, but officials
with the U.S. Department of Justice say they will not interfere
with states' efforts to regulate and tax it, provided state
officials are able to meet a minimum set of requirements that
include keeping it away from children.
"If we fail to act, this effort to legalize recreational
marijuana could be in some doubt," Inslee said.
"And I know those who have led the effort to legalize this
product understand that we've got to make sure that parents'
roles are respected and emphasized and that the health of our
children is of our paramount concern," he said.
To protect children, the state will not allow cartoons on
packaging or toys to be sold with the drug, Inslee said.
The state also will require businesses to clearly label
their products, divide them into easily identifiable servings
with details on how much high-inducing THC is contained and have
their products tested by an accredited private lab to screen for
such hazards as pesticides and mold, officials said.
The Washington state Liquor Control Board on July 7 will
issue licenses to roughly 20 marijuana retail stores, said
Sharon Foster, chairwoman of the state Liquor Control Board.
They can open the next day if they have product on hand.
None of those stores will immediately sell edible products
because no processor has obtained a license for a cannabis
kitchen, said Liquor Control Board spokesman Brian Smith.
State regulators were prepared to license a total of 334
retail stores, but due to local moratoriums and bans the final
number of pot shops is expected to be lower, Smith said.
(Reporting by Bryan Cohen in Seattle, Writing by Alex
Dobuzinskis; Editing by Sandra Maler, Eric Beech and Gunna