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Washington became one of the first states to legalize marijuana for recreational use in 2012. But there are a lot of challenges ahead: the state must set up a licensing system for marijuana growers and sellers, the federal government may mount a challenge, the need to set a new limit on amount of marijuana in the bloodstream for safe driving. And medical marijuana is still in the picture.Over the next several months we will be exploring the issue and tracking the impact of I-502.

Why It's Hard To Regulate Medical Pot

Flickr Photo/Chuck Coker (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Washington state lawmakers have a lot on their plates this legislative session: everything from how to fully fund basic education to a debate over how to control pollution. But some legislators also put medical marijuana regulation on their priority list.

Seattle Democratic Senator Jeanne Kohl-Wells will propose a bill that merges the recreational and medical marijuana markets. Some of her Republican colleagues want to make sure that doesn't happen.

No matter the party affiliation, everyone is concerned about how to preserve the tax revenue generated by marijuana sales. And they want to establish uniform regulations for the quality and potency of marijuana that's sold in state-approved outlets.

Dr. Gary Wenk, a neurobiologist from the Ohio State University Medical School, says regulating marijuana potency is a difficult task. According to Wenk, marijuana strains vary depending on the growing conditions. And he says every individual responds differently to marijuana, depending on their personal chemical and genetic makeup.

In a new edition of his book "Your Brain On Food," Wenk introduces a general audience to brain chemistry. And he lays out the case against youth consumption of marijuana.

Gary Wenk spoke with KUOW's Marcie Sillman on The Record.