When Washington and Colorado became the first states to legalize recreational marijuana, they had to develop their own regulatory agencies and protocols from scratch.
Now that more states have joined the party, they’re pooling their expertise as the industry matures.
Washington cannabis regulators, such as Rick Garza, are joining their peers in 18 other states that have legalized marijuana to create the Cannabis Regulators Association. Garza, who directs Washington’s Liquor and Cannabis Board, has been selected as the association’s vice president.
They’re sharing institutional knowledge and regulatory best practices with the states and localities that have recently approved legal cannabis.
"That covers everything we do whether it's licensing, whether it's enforcement, packaging and labeling, or banking. You know, how do we make banking available?” he said.
Garza says that advice can help other states avoid problems other states have encountered. He cites as an example the difficulties Washington had when it had to incorporate its less regulated medical marijuana dispensaries into the new recreational system.
The new association will consist of regulators only and will not include marijuana industry representatives. Garza says the Cannabis Regulators Association will not work to advocate legalization in any other states.