[dropcap class=”kp-dropcap”]C[/dropcap]annabis advocates and connoisseurs in Washington may soon score a major victory. Washingtonian cannabis lovers with a green thumb have long complained that, despite being one of the first states in the U.S. to legalize recreational cannabis, it’s the only state that doesn’t allow small cannabis home cultivation for recreational consumers. That may soon change.
In 2017, Washington lawmakers directed the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board to conduct a study on the feasibility of allowing cannabis home cultivation. The study concluded that there were three options when it came to allowing home grows, and still abiding by the Cole Memo.
The three options were:
- Tightly regulated recreational home grows—state framework;
- State statute framework, local authority recreational home grows;
- Prohibit recreational home grows.
Lawmakers in the House and Senate seem to be pushing for option number one with two newly introduced bills. Rep. Brian Blake introduced House Bill 1131, also referred to as “Allowing residential marijuana agriculture,” onto the House floor on Jan. 11. Rep. Maureen Walsh introduced the identical companion bill, Senate Bill 5155 to the Senate on the same day.
According to the House bill summary, the legislation allows the following:
- Authorizes adult recreational home cultivation of cannabis, subject to restrictions.
- Provides that adults may produce and possess up to six cannabis plants at their housing unit.
- Establishes production and possession limits for certain cannabis products derived from the plants.
- Establishes a 15-plant limit per housing unit, no matter how many people live there.
- Requires marking of cannabis plants and cannabis produced from those plants with the person’s name, date of birth, address, planting date, and harvest date.
- Retains the right of property owners to prohibit cultivation of cannabis by a renter or lessee under a rental agreement.
- Protects cannabis and cannabis products, and the property on which they were produced or possessed under the new authorization, from seizure and forfeiture.
- It is legal for an adult age 21 or over to possess any combination of the following types and amounts of cannabis products: One ounce of useable cannabis; 16 ounces of cannabis-infused product in solid form; 72 ounces of cannabis -infused product in liquid form; and 7 grams of cannabis concentrate.
Many of the bills’ sponsors are bipartisan. Republicans Rep. Drew MacEwen, Rep. Jesse Young and Sen. Maureen Walsh co-sponsored the House Bill alongside Rep. Brian Blake, and other Democratic Reps. Democrats Sen. Bob Hasegawa, Rep. Sam Hunt, Sen. Rebecca Saldaña, Sen. Guy Palumbo and Sen. Patty Kuderer sponsored the senate bill alongside Walsh.
“It seems logical a homeowner could grow their own marijuana on their property.”
The bills’ sponsors brought up the fact that Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont and Washington, D.C., all allow recreational cannabis consumers to cultivate plants in their own homes. “This is an issue I’ve always seen as a flaw in the initiative, and SB-5052 that passed several years later,” Rep. Blake told CULTURE. “In Washington state, you can grow your own garden, brew your own beer and make your own wine. It seems logical a homeowner could grow their own marijuana on their property.”
This is not the first time this issue has been raised in Washington, but many hope it’s the last. It’s high time cannabis consumers in Washington who love gardening, or who live in rural areas that either don’t allow cannabis retailers or just don’t have any retailers, to cultivate their own cannabis. Allowing small home grows will further eliminate the need for illicit cannabis sales, and help continue to stifle the black market. Cannabis advocates are crossing their fingers that lawmakers voting on these bills will do right by Washingtonians and pass them into law.