The haze of promulgating the first retail marijuana regulations— Awaiting the first legal pot shop sales in Colorado and Washington

November 7, 2013

Marijuana plants are displayed for sale at Canna Pi medical marijuana dispensary in SeattlePublishing regulations is a fast-paced and constant commitment. Thomson Reuters publishes the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Administrative Codes (ADC) for all 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as updates to the Federal Register (FR) and state register materials (REGTXT). Thus, our Attorney Editors are well-acquainted with various methods by which each individual jurisdiction conducts its rulemaking activities.

It is exciting to watch as new regulatory schemes are proposed and ultimately promulgated, especially in new and noteworthy areas not subject to regulatory activity in the past.  Retail marijuana has certainly been one topic that has been “smokin’” this past couple of years.  Reaching beyond the confines of dispensing medicinal marijuana, beginning with voter approval in 2012, Washington and Colorado are the first two states to have committed to introducing a brand new regulated industry into their states….one that could have been seriously jeopardized through exercise of federal preemption.

For almost a year, the states and Thomson Reuters’ Attorney Editors waited to hear what action the U.S. Department of Justice would take with regard to enforcing federal bans against marijuana sales.  Finally, on September 10, 2013, at a hearing entitled “Conflicts between State and Federal Marijuana Laws”, the DOJ announced that the federal government would not block the states’ plans. As long as the states protect certain interests, such as making sure that marijuana stays out of the hands of youth, etc., nothing is anticipated to stand in the way as the first Colorado licensed retail marijuana stores open their doors on January 1, 2014.

Colorado and Washington will not probably go looking for additional trouble by pushing other federal preemption boundaries, namely federal banking regulations.  The retail shops will likely not conduct their businesses through banking channels, so marijuana shops will be a cash-only business.  The ramifications of this bypass are yet unknown.

Our editorial staff is very attentive to changes in retail marijuana and all other topics of regulation. Emergency regulations, proposed regulations, and even corrected regulations are included in our data. As hearings are held, commentary is compiled, and finalized regulations are filed with effective dates, they are promptly published in the administrative code.  Every state is a little different in how its Administrative Procedures Act works, and changes to these Acts are not rare.  We pride ourselves in knowing these nuances state by state, and in anticipating how they might be changing.

So, as the new retail marijuana regulatory schemes in Colorado and Washington are crafted, rolled out and tweaked to govern this new industry, we will keep researchers up-to-date with these changes.  We will also monitor other states as they consider the same path, and we will watch as the relationship with conflicting federal regulations continues to be tested with brand new exercises of state rulemaking.   The owners of these new stores, their customers, the community, and their attorneys can rest assured that our Attorney Editors will ensure any new developments are reflected in our regulatory products.