The Cannabis legalization trend spurred changes in the regulatory landscape across the United States. However, while legalization has been undeniably life-changing for those who have been supporting the move, it also introduced challenges that continue to be debated until now. Some of those compliance issues deal with fiscal and banking, reporting, regulated use, and business compliance issues. Washington and other states that have legalized some form of cannabis use continue to face some type of restrictions as a result of existing federal laws.
Washington Cannabis Laws
Washington state, along with Oregon and California, counted as one of the first states to pursue cannabis legalization. The state adopted medicinal cannabis laws in 1998 through Washington initiative 692. Nearly fifteen years later, Washington marijuana laws on recreational use were passed in 2012 as a result of a ballot initiative that was approved by popular vote. However, licensed recreational cannabis retail only started in 2014. Prior to the passage of this landmark law, several cities in the state also passed regulations making cannabis possession as the lowest priority by law enforcement.
Usage Limits and Other Restrictions
Current laws impose age limit and purchase limit restrictions for cannabis use. Only state-licensed stores are allowed to sell cannabis-products, which mirrors restrictions in other states. Prohibition for resale is also strictly enforced. Public use is prohibited and taking a cannabis product out of Washington state is strictly off-limits.
Requirements for Washington Businesses
As described by the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board, state laws cover three types of businesses. These include cannabis producer, processor, and retailer. The Washington LCB also indicates distinct regulations that govern each business type, but an applicant is not allowed to hold all three types of licenses. Individuals without a license cannot raise their own cannabis plant for recreational or commercial use.
The Washington LCB also compiles business sales and revenues from excise taxes per county. Their report for 2016 indicated around $786 million in total sales for Washington, state. Meanwhile, excise taxes for that fiscal year reached approximately $186.6 million
State Compliance Rules
Washington tax laws set compliance rules for reporting revenues on a monthly basis. For local businesses, an application or program that could steer them through the maze of compliance policies is a must-have tool. There are programs that automatically generates the data then submits the information to Washington LCB. Like any state with cannabis legalization laws in place, traceability is a requirement for monitoring cannabis licensed businesses. In Washington state, having a POS that is in sync with the system gives the entrepreneur more time to manage their business.
Despite the challenges facing local cannabis industries, states who have adopted legalization have lived with the challenges and thrived. It also spurred canna tech entrepreneurs to develop tools that could support local businesses and startups in Washington and other states. The trials of legalization continue to be dealt by statewide governments, but businesses can at least take care of their compliance needs through these useful apps and programs.