Children are no longer barred from marijuana processing plants in Washington, as the state adjusts its laws in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board said Thursday that it will temporarily relax enforcement of a provision in a statute that bars minors from the premises of such facilities. Under the revised rules, which will be in effect until April 30, children under the age of 16 will no longer be prohibited from the processing plants so long as they are a child or grandchild of the licensee, not engaging in any work or act of employment for the licensed business, and not in possession of any products associated with the production, processing, or sales of marijuana. 

The board said that the “temporary allowance is to accommodate families that have been impacted by school closures,” and that it “ covers only the licensed marijuana facility for producers and processors, and does not include or cover retail locations or transportation vehicles.” 

“We’re saying these are extraordinary times,” Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board spokesman Brian Smith told local television station KING5 News. Joshua Gonzales, the cultivation manager for Washington processor Walden Cannabis, told KING5 that the revised rules allow him to work with his 10-year-old son alongside him. 

“They can’t be working. They can’t be employed, but they can still be here because a lot of us have our kids at home (most of the time),” Gonzales told the station.

But not everyone is in favor of the change. Courtney Popp, a board member of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), told KING5 that “the state could do a better job of extending safer childcare options to the workers.” 

“Parents are not going to be able to monitor their children around these substances, they’re going to do their job,” Popp said. “That’s why they are there.”

The Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board has also temporarily expanded curbside sales of marijuana to both medical patients and recreational customers as a way of promoting social distancing during the COVID-19 outbreak.

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