Four Things You Can Do To Help Legalize Home Growing In Washington

By Bailey Hirschburg, Legislative Associate, Washington NORML PAC

House Bill 1212, in the Washington state house, would legalize personal cultivation of up to six marijuana plants, keep as much as 24 harvested ounces in the home. It defelonizes sharing or gifting of marijuana up to one ounce, and allows patients/adults to have their harvested marijuana tested in professional laboratories. Despite a unanimous committee vote of “do pass” in the house, progress has stalled because of lack of a companion bill in the state senate.

With the help of grassroots activists, calls from constituents, and supporter engagement from emails, Washington’s state house is, for the moment, saturated. But the senate has had less marijuana legislation, and less engagement. Four things you can do to help:

image21.) Call the right Senators

Email is alright, but they get a lot. Calls get more notice. Start with your senator, find them here:

BONUS if your state senator is any of the following, if not, leave a message for them anyway.

State Senate Leadership

  • Majority Leader: Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-9th District, (360) 786-7620
  • Majority Caucus Chair: Sen. Randi Becker, R-2nd District, (360) 786-7602
  • Majority Floor Leader: Sen. Joe Fain, R-47th District, (360) 786-7692
  • Minority Leader: Sen. Sharon Nelson, D-34th District, (360) 786-7667
  • Minority Floor Leader: Sen. Marko Liias, D-21st District, (360) 786-7640
  • Minority Caucus Chair: Sen. John McCoy D-38th District, (360) 786-7674

 Commerce, Gaming & Sports Committee(Deals with marijuana legislation)

  • Committee Chairman: Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-6th District, (360) 786-7610
  • Vice Chairman: Sen. John Braun, R-20th District, (360) 786-7638
  • Ranking Minority Member: Sen. Karen Keiser, D-33rd District, (360) 786-7664

2.) Call Senator Ann Rivers, R-18th District, (360) 786-7634

Every lawmaker I’ve talked to says some version of “Any Senator can sponsor home grow, if you want it to pass, you need Senator Rivers.”  Rivers was at the center of the 2015 changes to the state’s medical marijuana laws, which were divisive then and haven’t gotten much better. She took a lot of flack for that law, but she’s still the senate republicans cannabis head honcho. If you want it to pass, you need Senator Rivers.

3.) Be nice to staff, and they’ll give your message extra volume

Whatever the senators politics, they believe in them enough to hustle. You’ll be speaking to them through their staff aide. This person is both busy, and has a better relationship with the senator than you. Be to the point, remind them what bill it is, and say thanks. The call doesn’t need to last long, someone else may be calling to support!

Please call your state senator first, and ask that they get back to you about sponsoring the senate companion to SHB1212. Then, let other senators you contact know you’ve already called as a constituent, and are calling them as a senate leader.

For the Commerce, Gaming, and Sports Committee members or Sen. Ann Rivers let them know you’re calling because of their leadership on marijuana issues.

4.) Make the right argument.

The common arguments in favor of SHB1212 have been its benefits to medical patients and the fact that other legal marijuana states have it. Those are good points, but there’s another argument few people make. From Washington’s State Constitution:

“SECTION 7 INVASION OF PRIVATE AFFAIRS OR HOME PROHIBITED. No person shall be disturbed in his private affairs, or his home invaded, without authority of law.”

The state constitution is what lawmakers swore to uphold. Maybe Washington used to have a legitimate interest in busting people for a few plants. But in 2017, if you’re not dealing, trafficking, driving, or endangering kids, then it’s not the state’s business if you want to grow your own.

Call the right senators, stay courteous with staff, and argue the constitution. A few steps can make all the difference in legalizing home growing this year.