Future Impact Looking ahead at proposed bills for the 2019 legislative session

The rules governing cannabis licensees in Washington State are constantly evolving as the industry grows and as the state becomes more adept at regulating it. To that end, the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) requested a few bills for the 2019 Legislative Session that impact cannabis licensees.

First, the LCB requested that the expiration date for the Licensing and Enforcement System Modernization Project Account be extended to Sept. 1, 2023. It is currently set to expire on June 30 of this year, which would mean that $1.2 million in fees that have been collected from licensees for the purpose of modernizing computer and record-keeping systems would be transferred to the state general fund. This bill would allow those funds to remain with the Account so that they can be spent for their intended purpose.

Secondly, the LCB has requested implementation of a “Budtender Permit” program which would require training currently for employees who serve alcohol for on-premises consumption. The permit would be required for cannabis retail store employees who sell or service cannabis products to the public. This requirement is similar to what Oregon has already implemented via its Marijuana Worker Permit program. There, certain criminal convictions can prohibit an individual from obtaining a permit, and all permit holders must be trained to properly check IDs.

The LCB has also requested a bill for uniform enforcement authority that would give the LCB’s enforcement officers the same authority to enforce state cannabis laws as well as tobacco and vapor product laws that officers currently have for alcohol law enforcement.

“ . . . the LCB has requested that the expiration date for the Licensing and Enforcement System Modernization Project Account be extended to Sept.1, 2023.”

 

Additionally and not necessarily supported by the LCB, a group of legislators introduced a legislation earlier this year that would legalize cannabis home grows in Washington State, and give adults the right to grow up to six plants at home for personal use. The legislation intends to mirror home grow laws in other states, like California. Specifically, the proposed bill states that: “It is not a violation of this section, this chapter, or any other provision of Washington state law for a person 21 years of age or older to produce or possess no more than six plants on the premises of the housing unit occupied by the person, provided the person complies with the requirements of this subsection.”

The bill proposes other limitations on a person’s possession of cannabis. For example, a person may possess useable cannabis in an amount not to exceed what is produced by the person’s plants in addition to useable cannabis obtaining in the manner and according to the limits contained in RCW 69.50.360(3). Additionally, no more than 15 plants would be allowed to be grown at any one time on the premises of a single housing unit, regardless of the number of occupants. Plants, useable cannabis and cannabis for further processing would need to be identified with the name, residential address and date of birth of the person growing the plants in addition to other identification requirements.

It is important to note that in the event that this bill passes and adults over the age of 21 are allowed to grow cannabis for personal use at home, nothing in the bill would prevent a landlord from prohibiting the personal cultivation of cannabis on their property pursuant to a lease.

These issues should be taken up in this legislative session, and we’ll all be following along closely to see how Washington’s cannabis industry continues to evolve.

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