Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board To Hold Public Hearing On Recreational Marijuana Home Grows

Agency tasked by new law to conduct study and make recommendations to Legislature by Dec. 1, 1017

WASHINGTON:  The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) will hold a public hearing on Wed. Oct. 4, 2017, to receive public input on whether the State should allow home grows of recreational marijuana. The public hearing is during the regularly scheduled 10:00 a.m. Board meeting at its headquarters at 3000 Pacific Avenue in Olympia. Due to space and parking restrictions, the WSLCB encourages written public comment. Written public comment may be submitted by email through Oct. 11, 2017 at rules@lcb.wa.gov or hard copy at PO Box 43080, Olympia, WA 98504.

Note: The Board may adjust the testimony time allotted to each speaker based on the number of attendees to ensure that everyone has time to testify. 

Legislation enacted in 2017 directs the WSLCB to “conduct a study of regulatory options for the legalization of marijuana plant possession and cultivation by recreational marijuana users.” The study must take into account the “Cole Memo,” issued by the United State Department of Justice in 2013, which outlines the federal government’s enforcement priorities in states where medical or recreational marijuana has been legalized or decriminalized. The study and recommendations are due to the Legislature on Dec. 1, 2017

“The agency is actively engaging other states, the public, the industry and stakeholders. We know there are many perspectives to this issue and we want to ensure they are captured for our report and recommendations,” said agency director Rick Garza.

The WSLCB is seeking input on three options at the public hearing:

Option 1: Tightly Regulated Recreational Marijuana Home Grows

  • Statutory provision that allows law enforcement to seize and destroy all plants if beyond limit;
  • This option allows recreational home grows under a strict state regulatory framework based on the Cole Memo:
  • Requires a permit;
  • Four plants maximum per household;
  • All plants must be entered into the state traceability system;
  • Requirements for security, preventing youth access, preventing diversion, etc.;
  • Jurisdiction is shared between WSLCB and local authorities
  • Allows recreational growers to purchase plants from licensed as long as growers have a permit;
  • Same restrictions on processing marijuana that apply to medical marijuana (no combustible processing).

Option 2: Local Control of Recreational Marijuana Home Grows

  • This option is based on statewide standards including requirements for security, preventing youth access, preventing diversion, etc.;
  • Limits plants to 4 per household;
  • Allows recreational growers to purchase plants from licensed as long as growers have a permit.
  • Requires a permit to possess plants.

Difference from Option 1

  • Does not require plants to be entered into traceability
  • Authorized, controlled, and enforced by local jurisdictions;
  • State sets minimum requirements. Local jurisdictions can be more restrictive.
  • Home grows are prohibited without local permission;

Option 3. Recreational Home Grows are Prohibited

  • This option preserves the status quo. Recreational home grows continue to remain prohibited:
  • A regulated market exists today with statewide access;
  • Recreational home grows may provide a cover for diversion;
  • The Cole Memo is concerned with diversion, youth access, and the criminal element;
  • Home grows for medical marijuana are allowed as well as cooperatives.

Among the eight states that have legalized recreational marijuana, Washington is the only state that does not allow marijuana home grows. Washington allows authorized patients to have limited grows for medical purposes or to be part of a four-member medical marijuana cooperative if the cooperative registers with the WSLCB and the local jurisdiction does not object.

Those wishing to view the public hearing may watch via WebEx. The live link will be posted to the Board Meeting webpage of the WSLCB website at lcb.wa.gov at least 24 hours in advance of the meeting.

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.