State rep. wants to amend pot law to boost revenue

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OLYMPIA, Wash. - Though it has only been a few months since Washington state residents were given the right to legally smoke marijuana, at least one state representative already wants to amend the law to boost state revenue.

 The amendment would allow marijuana businesses to set up within 500 feet of parks, day cares and schools, instead of the 1,000 feet under the law that voters approved.

 Rep. Christopher Hurst of Enumclaw believes the 1,000 feet rule is too strict and would force people to drive farther to buy marijuana, which could ultimately cut into the state tax revenue.

 Hurst, who leads the House committee overseeing marijuana, introduced the bill Tuesday, which would also increase the price for getting into the pot business.

 Instead of paying $1,000 a year for licensing fees, anyone wanting to legally grow, process or sell pot would pay a new certificate fee to get into the game.

 That price would be set at market value -- in other words, the right to operate a pot business may cost only $1,000 in a small town, but hundreds of thousands in more urban areas.

Hurst claims that could add up to more than $50 million in extra state revenue this year.

 But some are leery about the idea, arguing that if the price to get into the legal marijuana industry is too high, it could bolster business for illegal growers and sellers.