Washington State May Finally Legalize Growing Pot at Home
Could 2020 be the year this happens?
W ashington was the first state to legalize recreational pot, but it is also one of the only states with recreational pot that outlaws growing pot at home. Could that end in 2020?
“I think we have the best shot we’ve ever had,” said John Kingsbury, a cannabis advocate. “I think we’re playing on a different field this year. Instead of me reaching out to people, I’ve had legislative staff reach out to me. That’s a noticeable difference.”
Kingsbury would know—he’s spent years in Olympia trying to convince lawmakers to give adults the right to grow a few pot plants at home.
Ten states and the District of Columbia have followed Washington’s lead and legalized recreational pot, but in all almost of those places, from California to Massachusetts, adults have also been given the right to grow a few plants at home. Washington is one of the few places you must get doctor’s approval first.
Three of our state’s most badass lawmakers—Senator Bob Hasegawa, Senator Rebecca Saldaña, and Representative Cindy Ryu—sponsored legislation last year that would give every adult the right to grow up to six pot plants at home.
Unfortunately, their bill failed. To find out who will help push the bill to the finish line this year, I reached out to all 21 Seattle-area lawmakers. In addition to the three who proposed the law, eight lawmakers told me they support homegrows: Representative Joe Fitzgibbon, Representative Eric Pettigrew, Representative Nicole Macri, Representative Gerry Pollet, Representative Sharon Tomiko Santos, Senator Joe Nguyen, Senator Reuven Carlyle, and Senator David Frockt.
Only one lawmaker responded to say they don’t support homegrows. Representative Lauren Davis, whose district includes a small portion of North Seattle, said she doesn’t support legislation “that increases access to drugs.” Earth to Davis—growing pot at home is significantly more difficult than visiting any of the pot shops in your district with easy access to drugs!
Nine other senators and representatives never responded to my request, which means we need to call, e-mail, and nag them: Representative Steve Bergquist, Representative Zack Hudgins, Representative Eileen Cody, Representative Noel Frame, Representative Gael Tarleton, Representative Frank Chopp, Representative Javier Valdez, Senator Jesse Salomon, and Senator Jamie Pedersen.
Nguyen said one reason homegrow legalization struggles is because lawmakers often “focus on how we can criminalize things.” Nguyen, whose district includes West Seattle, Vashon Island, and Burien, said: “If you’re worried about people taking advantage of the system by growing seven plants instead of six, why don’t you focus on what the outcome is and how you can help people?”
Macri, whose district includes Capitol Hill, said if it’s legal to make beer at home, it should be legal to grow a few pot plants. She also said some medical patients “can’t get what they need because there’s just not a market for those products. So for that, I think homegrow is one good option that would provide help.”
The homegrow bill’s first stop is the Commerce & Gaming Committee in the state house, which is chaired by Representative Strom Peterson. He told me that he supports the bill and thinks it has a good chance when the legislative session convenes in January.
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“I have every intention of hearing the bill, but I am only one vote,” Peterson said. “But I think there’s a lot of legitimate need and desire out there to have a reasonable homegrow opportunity for people. So I look at it positively.”
It won’t be long before we know if 2020 is the year Washington finally becomes the newest state to give adults the right to grow pot at home. The legislative session ends in March.
Could 2020 be the year this happens?
STATE OF THE STATE: Washington State Marijuana Policy
Always pushing the boundaries of progressive social experimentation, Washington State was one of the first two states to decriminalize marijuana for both medical and recreational possession and use.
Washington State’s Initiative 502 (I-502), decriminalized recreational marijuana, was voted into law in November 2012.
Originally, recreational and medical marijuana were regulated by separate agencies but since 2016 regulation of both medical and recreational marijuana are regulated jointly by the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board
To legally possess and use marijuana in Washington State you must be 21 years of age or older. Users may possess:
• One ounce of usable marijuana
• Marijuana-related paraphernalia
• 16 ounces of solid marijuana-infused product
• 72 ounces of liquid marijuana-infused product
Washington State residents may not grow marijuana plants in their homes because Washington State law requires police to have 24 hour a day access to a growing facility without a warrant. However there is an exception for medical marijuana in which case cultivation of plants is limited to medical use:
• Growers must be 21 or older
• Up to four plants can be grown without registration
• Cooperative gardens are allowed
• Registration is recommended but not required
Registered medical marijuana users can purchase cannabis at any retail cannabis outlet holding a medical marijuana authorization. Registered medical marijuana users can purchase any combination of the following:
• Forty eight (48) ounces of marijuana-infused products in solid form
• Three (3) ounces of usable cannabis
• Two hundred sixteen (216) ounces of cannabis-infused products in liquid form
• Twenty one grams of cannabis concentrates
As a registered medical marijuana patient, you will also be authorized to grow and possess in your home:
• Up to six (6) plants for personal medical use
• Up to eight (8) ounces of usable cannabis produced from said plants
Washington State has approved medical marijuana for a wide variety of conditions including:
• Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV),
• Multiple sclerosis,
• Epilepsy or other seizure disorder, or spasticity disorders.
• Intractable pain,
• Crohn’s disease,
• Hepatitis C,
• Diseases, including anorexia, which result in nausea, vomiting, wasting, appetite loss, cramping, seizures, muscle spasms, or spasticity, when these symptoms are unrelieved by standard treatments or medications.
• Chronic renal failure requiring hemodialysis.
• Posttraumatic stress disorder.
• Traumatic brain injury.
In general legalizing marijuana use has been a good thing for the Evergreen State. Violent crime and opioid use are down and tax revenues are up. But it’s not all good news. So many individuals and enterprises have gotten into the marijuana cultivation and distribution business that the state is suffering from a glut of over production.
In recent years annual production has increased by 60% driving the retail price of an ounce of legal marijuana flower to as low as $40 (in some states the price for an ounce of flower exceed $400). Both shop owners and producers are seeking changes to Washington’s cannabis regulations.
Medical and recreational marijuana cultivation and distribution is still an industry in its infancy in the U.S. We will continue to follow its evolution and keep you informed of trends and developments.
A marketing and publishing professional and the Director of Publicity at GB Sciences, Liz Bianco monitors media activity and the “State of the States” on cannabis in America.
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STATE OF THE STATE: Washington State Marijuana Policy Always pushing the boundaries of progressive social experimentation, Washington State was one of the first two states to decriminalize