Illegal Pot Growers Invited To Go Legit

By Steve Jackson

Washington state officials say they are hoping to get illegal marijuana growers involved in the new legal pot system. Convincing law enforcement to crack down on those who don’t may be another matter.

The legalization of recreational marijuana puts many current producers of the drug in an unusual grey area. That includes growers who have a permit for medical marijuana, and those who currently grow and sell pot for personal use.

Chris Marr of the state Liquor control board says the state toyed with two options for those who will be allowed to produce legal pot - a small number of big time growers, or a large number of small time growers - and they decided on the latter.

"The reality is there are many people, who lets say are not operating in the rules, and we are hearing those people will continue to operate in that grey market unless we offer them an entrée into our market place," Marr says.

In September registration for producers will begin, with grows limited to indoor operations.
Marr says since the state hopes to make tax revenue off legal pot, there is an unusual situation where law enforcement will be asked to continue to monitor for illegal grow operations to make sure that revenue comes in.

“That’s one of the debates right now, we can no longer make the public safety argument, as to why police should keep the market in check, now it’s a revenue argument, and local governments do not get a cut of the tax revenues, which is really a shortcut, in my view, of the initiative,” Marr says.

According to Marr, a producer can apply for a permit in September for 250 dollars, in addition to a 1000 dollar a year fee.

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