No one wants to see WA become the nation's pot supplier
With Washington State ramping up the licensing requirements for the newly legal practice of growing marijuana, state and federal officials are debating the best ways to keep Washington's pot inside Washington's state boundaries. Washington already has a huge problem with the brisk trade in smuggling marijuana into the state across the Canadian border. Some are worrying that we could see a problem a thousand times bigger than that, when you consider that Washington's boundaries are not actively being policed through border crossings.
Governor Jay Inslee has pledged to make sure that Washington continues to "be a good neighbor" to the rest of the country. (At least until the other 48 states legalize pot.) The stringent licensing requirements will be one of the primary ways that Washington will keep its marijuana local. Growers will be closely watched and regulated, just as they are in states (like California) where medical marijuana is legal.
In Colorado, our "legal marijuana buddy," the state has been coping with medical marijuana grow houses for quite some time. Their system includes bar codes attached to each plant, digital tracking, and intense scrutiny of shipping manifests, and is considered one of the most closely regulated markets in the world. That being said, Colorado pot grown for medical use often finds its way onto the recreational market, and "the head of the Colorado agency charged with tracking the medical pot industry suggests no one should copy its measures."
Many believe that this issue may be what makes or breaks Washington's marijuana legalization. If the federal authorities are convinced that Washington will be able to keep its pot inside its borders, they will be a lot less likely to try and overturn I-502. But if Washington pot starts showing up on the market outside the state, even though Obama has signaled that he has bigger fish to fry, he may be pressured into suing the state on the grounds that Washington's new law directly conflicts with federal legislation.
The licensing board is also going to be depending on the cutthroat nature of the marijuana growing business to help regulate the problem. Incentives will be high to snitch on a grower who is diverting part of their crop to the black market outside Washington. Not to mention the bonus of being able to get a leg up on your competition by throwing them to the wolves. It's ugly, but it will probably also be very effective.