Washington State Marijuana Homegrow Bill Sponsor Not Giving Up After Latest Failure: ‘I Am Committed To This Issue’ - Read of Green
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Washington State Marijuana Homegrow Bill Sponsor Not Giving Up After Latest Failure: ‘I Am Committed To This Issue’



Source: Marijuana Moment

The sponsor of a Washington State marijuana homegrow bill that died in committee this month tells Marijuana Moment that she’ll continue to advocate for the policy change and plans to introduce yet another legalization measure next year.

“I am committed to this issue, and plan to run a bill again next session,” Rep. Shelley Kloba (D) said in an email. “Every session has its own character and constraints, which so far have meant that the bill has not advanced to the Senate. But I am not giving up.”

Despite being among the first states to legalize marijuana for adult use, in 2012, Washington is one of the few legal states where it remains a crime for adults to grow a cannabis plant for their own use.

“This bill would allow a person to grow a plant at home whose products they are able to legally purchase in a licensed retail store,” Kloba said, echoing arguments she’s made to colleagues during consecutive legislative sessions. “More than 10 years after the creation of our regulated legal cannabis system, it remains a Class C felony for the average person to grow any amount of cannabis at home.”

If passed, HB 2194 would have allowed adults 21 and older to grow up to four plants per person, with no more than 10 allowed per household.

Legislative efforts to allow personal cultivation stretch back to at least 2015, but so far each has failed.

Among observers, the consistent failures have led some to speculate that state officials oppose homegrow because it could reduce tax revenue from regulated sales. But that issue did not come up during public committee discussion on the bill this session, and Kloba said in her email that there were other indications that any cost to the state would be minimal.

“Logic might tell us that if allowing residents to grow cannabis at home would create a large loss of tax revenue, we would see massive opposition from the industry,” Kloba told Marijuana Moment. “That is not the case, and instead, there is support for this bill among licensees.”

Indeed, industry representatives and organizations supported the bill, with some likening home cannabis cultivation to home beer or wine production—more likely to inspire enthusiasm among consumers than replace their regular purchases.

Nevertheless, Kloba acknowledged that “projections for tax revenue loss for this bill were large and based on assumptions that we don’t have specific data to go on.”

State tax on legal marijuana sales in the Washington is 37 percent, among the highest in the country.

Asked whether she had thought about running a bill to put the issue to voters via a referendum on the ballot, Kloba suggested that would still be a long shot.

“A referendum is not a strategy I have considered,” she replied. “If it were a referendum from the legislature on a bill, you are correct that it would not require the signature gathering process, but in order to be successful, it would take a great deal of resources from an advocacy group.”

Advocates for the change—including leaders at Homegrow Washington, which has weighed running a ballot measure in the past—have said simply qualifying a personal cultivation initiative for the ballot could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

One person who spoke in favor of the proposal during public comment last month was Pete Holmes, the former city attorney of Seattle. The Democrat helped lead municipal reform around marijuana possession in that city and later backed the ballot push for statewide legalization.

“I want to emphasize that when you’re the first in the country to confront prohibition, there are a lot of unknowns,” Holmes said, “and as a primary sponsor of I-502 back in 2011, I can tell you that we struggled with home grows. It was left out initially of 502 because we wanted to understand better the viability of a newly legal but heavily regulated and taxed cannabis industry.”

“It has since become clear that Washington consumers deserve the right to grow your own for personal use,” he continued, “as many of the states that legalized in the past decade after Washington have already done.”

Marijuana Moment is tracking more than 1,000 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

Learn more about our marijuana bill tracker and become a supporter on Patreon to get access.

Law enforcement, which has opposed the proposal in past years, took a neutral stance on the measure. A representative for the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs said at a hearing that the group took no formal position on the bill.

Separately, members of a House committee voted this month to advance a measure from Rep. Lauren Davis (D) that originally would have limited THC potency in retail marijuana products. In its current form, however, it would require cannabis retailers to warn of the possible health risks of high-THC products and express that lawmakers intend to “consider increasing the minimum legal age of sale of high THC cannabis products to age 25.”

Another cannabis bill introduced in Washington this session would have rolled back recently enacted protections for job applicants who use marijuana, undoing the anti-discrimination protections for people seeking to work in the drug treatment industry. It did not receive committee consideration in time to advance, however.

Lawmakers have also introduced legislation to create a legal system to allow veterans and first responders to access psychedelic-assisted therapy. The measure would build on a limited pilot program signed into law last year, but it has also not advanced since being filed.

The psychedelics legislation comes as grassroots efforts across the state seek to decriminalize entheogens at the local level by deprioritizing enforcement of state laws against the substances. Organizers in at least six Washington cities are working to enact the reform, which they also see as a way to build support for state-level change.

Late last year, the state Department of Commerce issued recommendations regarding how $200 million should be spent to address racial, economic and social disparities created by the war on drugs. The state has also approved $10 million in refunds for vacated drug convictions.

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