Growing pot at home could become legal in Washington state
Other states that have legalized recreational cannabis already allow home growing, but Washington does not.
Washington legislators are considering a bill that would allow anyone age 21 and over to grow up to six marijuana plants at home. (Richard Vogel/AP)
Washington state residents have long been able to brew their own beer in their basement, or ferment homemade wine in their living room. If they want to smoke a joint to unwind, though, their only legal option is to get dressed and buy one at a store.
More than eight years after Washington voters legalized recreational cannabis, some state lawmakers say it’s past time to let people grow their own pot at home.
A bipartisan group of legislators is proposing a bill that would let adults 21 and over grow cannabis plants at home for recreational use.
House Bill 1019 would limit each adult to six home-grown plants. No more than 15 plants could be cultivated per household, limiting the ability of roommates to band together and create a small-scale marijuana farm.
Under Washington state law, qualified medical cannabis patients can already grow a limited amount of marijuana plants. But for nonpatients, growing marijuana at home is a class C felony, punishable by up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.
Washington’s ban on home growing puts the state at odds with most others that have legalized recreational pot use. Of those 15 states, at least 10 allow home growing, including Oregon, Vermont, Nevada, California and Colorado. Last fall, voters in South Dakota, Arizona and Montana also approved ballot measures that legalized growing marijuana at home.
State Rep. Shelley Kloba, D-Kirkland, called Washington’s ban on home growing of cannabis “an antiquated policy.”
“It is time for us to evolve in this space,” said Kloba, the prime sponsor of the bill to allow home growing.
The measure has been introduced several times in the past, but has stalled. Kloba thinks that the number of states that have recently embraced home growing builds the case for Washington to do the same.
She said many of the fears associated with allowing home growing — that it would fuel illegal activity, or create neighborhoods that constantly reek of weed — haven’t come to pass in other states.
Law enforcement officials still worry, however, that homegrown pot could be easily sold on the illicit market, or that backyard cannabis plants could prove an attractive target for thieves and burglars.
“Our members, candidly, are not comfortable with the public safety aspects and public safety concerns associated with allowing marijuana home-grows,” said James McMahan of the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, which represents law enforcement leaders.
“We also, of course, have great concern over the exposure to children,” McMahon added at a Jan. 15 public hearing.
That concern was echoed by substance-abuse prevention advocates, particularly because the bill says the state Liquor and Cannabis Board wouldn’t have authority to enforce the rules that would apply to home marijuana grows.
“We do not want to create an environment where adults are freely growing, producing and processing marijuana at home without any training or standardization,” said Jesse Jimenez of Prevent Coalition, an organization based in Vancouver, Washington, that works to prevent youth drug and alcohol use.
John Kingsbury, co-founder of the group Homegrow Washington, said many of the concerns people express about home growing seem to relate more to large-scale cannabis operations.
“What I often hear is conflation of large-scale illicit activity with what we are actually advocating for here, which is legalizing six-plant, noncommercial home gardens,” Kingsbury said.
He added that most people won’t choose to cultivate cannabis at home, simply because “growing it is hard, and the product is readily available in stores.”
Still, some new provisions have been added to the bill this year to try to address public safety and nuisance concerns.
For one, the measure would create a new civil infraction for anyone who grows marijuana in public view, or whose marijuana production can be “readily smelled” by neighbors or passersby. Those offenses could result in a $50 fine, but wouldn’t go on someone’s criminal record.
Marijuana growing would also be banned in homes that provide day care services or host foster children.
As before, selling homegrown cannabis to another person would not be allowed. Landlords could also restrict renters from growing marijuana on their property, if they choose.
The measure passed out of the House Commerce and Gaming Committee on Friday. It would still need to pass both chambers of the Legislature — and not be vetoed by the governor — to become law.
Last year, the bill died in the House Appropriations Committee, which reviews budget-related measures.
But it’s not clear that the state’s tax collections would be hurt by allowing people to grow marijuana at home.
Timothy Nadreau, a research economist at Washington State University, said he studied how allowing marijuana home growing would affect state revenue. He concluded that cannabis tax collections would most likely continue to increase if HB 1019 passed, in part because home growing could boost people’s interest in cannabis products.
Right now, the state is collecting about $1 billion per year in marijuana excise tax revenues.
“I don’t see this having a significant impact on the state budget,” said state Rep. Drew MacEwen, R-Union, who is co-sponsoring the measure.
Lara Kaminsky, co-founder of the Cannabis Alliance, said she thinks allowing marijuana home growing will actually be good for the cannabis industry in Washington state. She said it could create a market for greater variety in cannabis products, much as homebrewing and microbreweries did for the beer industry.
As things stand now, many customers simply go for whatever pot product is cheapest and has the highest level of THC, the psychoactive component in marijuana, she said.
If homegrows are allowed to flourish, “The consumer will be more discerning, have better questions and look for products that have more qualities than just a number on a package,” Kaminsky predicted.
Other states that have legalized recreational cannabis already allow home growing, but Washington does not.
STATE OF THE STATE: Washington State Marijuana Policy
Always pushing the boundaries of progressive social experimentation, Washington State was one of the first two states to decriminalize marijuana for both medical and recreational possession and use.
Washington State’s Initiative 502 (I-502), decriminalized recreational marijuana, was voted into law in November 2012.
Originally, recreational and medical marijuana were regulated by separate agencies but since 2016 regulation of both medical and recreational marijuana are regulated jointly by the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board
To legally possess and use marijuana in Washington State you must be 21 years of age or older. Users may possess:
• One ounce of usable marijuana
• Marijuana-related paraphernalia
• 16 ounces of solid marijuana-infused product
• 72 ounces of liquid marijuana-infused product
Washington State residents may not grow marijuana plants in their homes because Washington State law requires police to have 24 hour a day access to a growing facility without a warrant. However there is an exception for medical marijuana in which case cultivation of plants is limited to medical use:
• Growers must be 21 or older
• Up to four plants can be grown without registration
• Cooperative gardens are allowed
• Registration is recommended but not required
Registered medical marijuana users can purchase cannabis at any retail cannabis outlet holding a medical marijuana authorization. Registered medical marijuana users can purchase any combination of the following:
• Forty eight (48) ounces of marijuana-infused products in solid form
• Three (3) ounces of usable cannabis
• Two hundred sixteen (216) ounces of cannabis-infused products in liquid form
• Twenty one grams of cannabis concentrates
As a registered medical marijuana patient, you will also be authorized to grow and possess in your home:
• Up to six (6) plants for personal medical use
• Up to eight (8) ounces of usable cannabis produced from said plants
Washington State has approved medical marijuana for a wide variety of conditions including:
• Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV),
• Multiple sclerosis,
• Epilepsy or other seizure disorder, or spasticity disorders.
• Intractable pain,
• Crohn’s disease,
• Hepatitis C,
• Diseases, including anorexia, which result in nausea, vomiting, wasting, appetite loss, cramping, seizures, muscle spasms, or spasticity, when these symptoms are unrelieved by standard treatments or medications.
• Chronic renal failure requiring hemodialysis.
• Posttraumatic stress disorder.
• Traumatic brain injury.
In general legalizing marijuana use has been a good thing for the Evergreen State. Violent crime and opioid use are down and tax revenues are up. But it’s not all good news. So many individuals and enterprises have gotten into the marijuana cultivation and distribution business that the state is suffering from a glut of over production.
In recent years annual production has increased by 60% driving the retail price of an ounce of legal marijuana flower to as low as $40 (in some states the price for an ounce of flower exceed $400). Both shop owners and producers are seeking changes to Washington’s cannabis regulations.
Medical and recreational marijuana cultivation and distribution is still an industry in its infancy in the U.S. We will continue to follow its evolution and keep you informed of trends and developments.
A marketing and publishing professional and the Director of Publicity at GB Sciences, Liz Bianco monitors media activity and the “State of the States” on cannabis in America.
DISCLAIMER REGARDING SITE CONTENT AND RELATED MATERIALS
Please read these terms and conditions fully and carefully. If you do not agree to be bound to each and every term and condition set forth herein, please exit the Site and do not access, read or otherwise use information provided herein.
The blog provides only general information and discussion about medicine, health and related subjects. Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the specific author and do not represent those of people, academic, hospital, practice or other institutions or organizations that the author may or may not be associated with in professional or personal capacity, and do not represent the views or opinions of GB Sciences, Inc., unless explicitly stated.
The words and other content provided in this blog, and in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. Nothing contained in the Site is intended to establish a physician-patient relationship, to replace the services of a trained physician or health care professional, or otherwise to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If the reader or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately-licensed physician or other health care worker. The information is provided by the specific author and the author makes no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the information, products, services, or related graphics contained in the blog for any purpose. Any reliance placed on such information is therefore strictly at the reader’s own risk.
This blog may contain statements that could be construed to relate to future results or events. Words such as “expects”, “intends”, “plans”, “may”, “could”, “should”, “anticipates”, “likely”, “believes” and words of similar import may identify forward-looking statements. These statements are not historical facts, but instead represent only the specific author’s belief regarding future events, many of which, by their nature, are inherently uncertain and outside of the specific author’s control. The specific author’s beliefs are not the beliefs of GB Sciences, Inc., and do not represent the views or opinions of GB Sciences, Inc., unless explicitly stated.
It is possible that the actual results and financial condition of GB Sciences, Inc., may differ, possibly materially, from the anticipated results and financial conditions suggested in these forward-looking statements by the blog author. Information concerning the GB Sciences, Inc., and its business, including factors that potentially could materially affect GB Sciences, Inc., are contained in the company’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, available at www.sec.gov. Any forward-looking statements included in this blog are made only as of the date of this blog, and neither the specific blog author nor GB Sciences, Inc., undertake any obligation to publicly update or correct any forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances that subsequently occur or of which they may hereafter become aware.
Through this website and blog you are able to link to other websites that are not under the control of the blog author or GB Sciences, Inc. The blog author and GB Sciences, Inc., have no control over the nature, content and availability of those sites. The inclusion of any links does not imply a recommendation or endorsement of the views and opinions expressed within them.
Content made available at the Site is provided on an “as is” and “as available” basis without warranties of any kind, either express or implied. Under no circumstances, as a result of your use of the Site, will the specific author or GB Sciences, Inc., be liable to you or to any other person for any direct, indirect, incidental, consequential, special, exemplary or other damages under any legal theory, including, without limitation, tort, contract, strict liability or otherwise, even if advised of the possibility of such damages.
By accessing the Site and/or reading its content, you acknowledge and agree that you have read and understand these terms and conditions, that the provisions, disclosures and disclaimers set forth herein are fair and reasonable, and that your agreement to follow and be bound by these terms and conditions is voluntary and is not the result of fraud, duress or undue influence exercised upon you by any person or entity.
STATE OF THE STATE: Washington State Marijuana Policy Always pushing the boundaries of progressive social experimentation, Washington State was one of the first two states to decriminalize