Liquor control board makes up new rules just for the fun of it

By Kyle Harding, Opinion Editor


As the reader probably knows, marijuana has been legal in Washington state since the beginning of the year.

As the reader also probably knows, this does not mean you can run down to the corner store and buy it. In fact, it will not be in stores for some time, as the bureaucrats at the Washington State Liquor Control Board need some time to come up with a plan to screw this all up for everybody.

Legalization presents new opportunities for entrepreneurs to start businesses, and new opportunities for entrepreneurs presents new opportunities for state officials to get in the way.

A common trait of the government official is an obsession with making rules. When people who do not work for the government think of rules, they think of them as being in place for reason, to accomplish an objective or prevent a problem. To the government official, rules exist for their own sake.

Hence the rules that are to be imposed on marijuana sellers when they are finally allowed to open up shop. For your convenience, the liquor control board has put a helpful frequently asked questions section on their website so you can easily look up the myriad hoops they are putting in place for legal drug dealers to jump through.

One of these hoops is location. Marijuana stores cannot be “within 1,000 feet of any elementary or secondary school, playground, recreation center or facility, child care center, public park, public transit center, library, or game arcade that allows minors to enter.”

It is unclear to me what this restriction actually accomplishes. I know, it is for the children, so it must be great and all, but if marijuana stores only allow people 21 and over inside, what does it matter how close children are to the outside?

It really should not matter at all because those kids are going to have a hard time knowing what is in that store in the first place. That is because of the next hoop to jump through: advertising.

According to the website, “Retailers are limited to one 1,600-square-inch sign bearing their business/trade name. They cannot put products on display to the general public such as through window fronts. No licensee can advertise marijuana/infused product in any form or through any medium whatsoever within 1,000 [feet] of school grounds, playgrounds, child care, public parks, libraries or game arcades that allows minors to enter. Also, you can’t advertise on public transit vehicles/shelters or on any [publicly] owned or operated property.”

An important component of running a successful business is advertising. I understand the urge to protect the public’s virgin eyeballs from pot leaf signs and bad weed puns, but in an era of billboards for alcohol and casinos, why should the marijuana sellers be so limited in their advertising capabilities? And again with the schools, playgrounds and parks. Do they think a marijuana flyer near a schoolyard is going to turn our children into raging drug-monsters?

It is doubtful that the liquor control board really thinks these restrictions will improve public life or protect children from marijuana. They are rules made for the sake of making rules. But while they probably do not have any measurable positive impact, they will have a tangible negative impact on the proprietors of marijuana stores.