Cannabis Legislation Update: March 2017
Here are some of the highlights from this year's difficult session.
MULTIPLE CANNABIS BILLS HAVE FAILED TO PASS:
Right to homegrow Cannabis bills
Both bills submitted this year to allow the personal homegrowing of Cannabis failed to make it out of committee and gain a vote on the floor. Washington remains the only state to have legalized Cannabis without giving citizens the freedom to grow a plant, and our legislators clearly don’t feel that this is an issue. Their continued refusal to grant citizens this basic freedom shows how committed to the war on drugs and the taxation scheme the state LCCB cartel is running. Why else would they maintain felony-level status for a plant for a citizen while pushing to protect the taxed and regulated market?
Maddie’s Law to allow use of medical Cannabis at school
Named after a child whose livelihood is tied to medical Cannabis, this bill would have made it possible for children to receive their medical Cannabis at school. For Maudie, this is the only way she can possibly go into a school program. Unfortunately, our legislative body didn’t feel that parents and schools should have the option to administer a safer medicine.
Seeds and clones for patients at MMJ endorsed recreational stores
Since the state forced medical patients into the 502 system last July, many patients have a struggled to find a “legal” source for clones or seeds to grow their “legal” plants. In a perfect symbol of the hypocrisy of Washington’s pot laws, patients are allowed to grow their own medicine, but they have no way to get the plants needed to do so. In a clear showing of no sympathy, our legislature failed to fix or address this issue, leaving patients without access for another year.
Bill to limit Bitcoin use in the recreational pot market
Another lovely bill from Senator Ann Rivers, the woman who famously helped kill MMJ, decided to introduce a new bill regulating the already overregulated Cannabis marketplace. Under SB 5264, “A marijuana producer, marijuana processor, or retail outlet must not pay with or accept virtual currency for the purchase or sale of marijuana or any marijuana product.” Considering the fed’s potential war on pot and Washington’s dedicated stance to protecting their cash cow, bitcoin might be a possible sidestep from enforcement. Sen. Rivers, of course, wanted to regulate it because it exists, and therefore must be scary, like the thought of MMJ patients growing their own plants.
BILLS BEING PUSHED AT TIME OF PRINT:
Raise store ownership limit from three businesses to five
The only other bill to have any traction this year would raise the limit of retail stores a person can own from three to five.
While this might not seem like a huge deal, in an industry that is already losing Mom and Pop businesses, this increase in ownership bill has troubling implications for the future.
Ban all outdoor advertising and treat pot ads like cigarettes
The only significant pot-related bill that has gotten traction this year seeks to ban outdoor advertisement of all forms for Cannabis, and limit pot ads like cigarettes. This would eliminate billboards, signs, sign wavers, soap boards and essentially any way for the public to easily find their local pot store. It would also limit pot ads the same way as cigarettes, and prohibit ads outside of 21+ establishments. While a private publication like the Leaf would only have to remove public distribution boxes and non 21+ locations, this would essentially kill any public reaching method for Cannabis companies. NW Leaf opposes this bill and the intention behind it. Cannabis is safer than alcohol, and it should not be harder to advertise/promote a safer choice. In addition, the state is making a major mistake with this bill. Limiting traffic to stores only limits sales in the regulated market, which also limits tax revenue for the state, which is the only reason pot was legalized in Washington.