Marijuana legalization

Anna King

Eric Cooper has a sort of "The Dude" vibe: Hawaiian shirt, leather brown sandals and a bushy silver goatee. He smoked weed for the first time when he was about 14. He’s a former contractor and registered nurse. Cooper grew medical marijuana, and now he’s one of the owners of Monkey Grass Farms in Wenatchee, Washington.

Monkey Grass Farms is one of the big boys: a tier-3 Washington state-licensed indoor pot grow. That means they can nurture about 21,000-square-feet of marijuana plants.

AP Photos

The state of Washington can produce, at most 40 metric tons, or 2 million square feet, of marijuana per year, the state Liquor Control Board said in its revised proposed rules for recreational pot on Wednesday.  

A total of 334 pot stores will be allowed statewide, the board said, and each county will have its own cap.

Washington state is making changes in state law to deal with a legal ambiguity related to the proper handling of marijuana inadvertently left at stores that have pharmacies.

Gov. Jay Inslee gave final approval to the bill Friday. Supporters of the measure say it was prompted by incidents where marijuana was found at stores after it was apparently dropped. There was concern that having marijuana in the store could impact the licensing of pharmacies in the stores.

Ted S. Warren / Associated Press

Green thumb? Check. Extensive knowledge of the black market? Check.

Throw in impeccable academic credentials and decades of experience with government agencies, and you have Washington's marijuana consultant — a team advising officials on all things pot as they develop rules for the state's new industry in legal, heavily taxed marijuana. 

Alexodus via Compfight / Flickr via Compfight

How do you build a whole new industry – and undermine a black market -- without increasing its customer base?  

That’s the challenge state regulators are facing as they write the rules that will govern recreational marijuana in Washington. The American Civil Liberties Union is urging caution.

Prosecutors for King and Pierce counties announced this afternoon that all misdemeanor marijuana cases in their counties have been dropped.

With legal possession of up to an ounce of pot just around the corner, King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg said that dismissing these cases is the right thing to do.