By STEVE BROWN
OLYMPIA -- The first public forum on implementing Washington's new law legalizing the recreational use of marijuana will be at 6 p.m. Jan. 22 in Olympia.
The Washington State Liquor Control Board is handling rule-making under Initiative 502, which voters passed last fall. The board will host the first forum in its Conference Room 201 at 3000 Pacific Ave SE.
The state law does not change the fact that marijuana continues to be illegal under federal law, according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
"It is important to note that these state marijuana laws do not change the fact that producing, selling, or possessing marijuana continues to be an offense under federal law," according to the office's website. "The Department of Justice's enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act remains unchanged."
In a news release, the liquor board also said it will hire a consultant on the marijuana plant or product itself, providing reliable consumption data and other requirements for implementing the law, one of the first of its kind in the U.S.
The consultant should have expertise in agriculture, horticulture, analytical studies and surveys, government or management.
A request for proposals is posted on the state's online vendor registration and bidder notification system, Washington's Electronic Business Solution.
A bidders conference will be Jan. 30, and deadline for bids is 2 p.m. Feb. 15. The successful bidder will be announced March 5, and the contract will be awarded March 15.
All public forums will follow the same schedule. The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. with an open house to meet the board and staff, followed by an overview of the board's role in the implementation and timeline. About three hours have been allocated for public testimony at each site:
Jan. 24: Seattle City Hall, Bertha Knight Landes Room, 600 Fourth Ave., Seattle.
Feb. 7: Clark College, Foster Auditorium, 1933 Fort Vancouver Way, Vancouver.
Feb. 12: Spokane City Hall, Council Chambers, 808 W Spokane Falls Blvd., Spokane.
Feb. 19: Skagit Valley College, Theater, 2405 E. College Way, Mount Vernon.
Feb. 21: Yakima City Hall, Council Chambers, 129 N. Second St., Yakima.
Input will also be accepted via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.