Washington Holds Public Hearing On Recreational Cannabis Home Grows

     Home grow in Washington state? Isn’t that illegal? Maybe not next year.
     The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) is holding a public hearing on Wednesday, October 4, 2017. They want public input on whether the state should legalize home grows for recreational cannabis. The hearing will be during the 10 am board meeting at WSLBC headquarters at 3000 Pacific Avenue in Olympia, Washington.
     The WSLCB is encouraging written public input because of parking issues in downtown Olympia. Comments may be submitted by e-mail through October 11 at rules@lcb.wa.gov or by snail mail at PO Box 43080, Olympia, WA 98504.
     Legislation enacted in 2017 directs the WSLCB to “conduct a study of regulatory options for the legalization of cannabis plant possession and cultivation by recreational cannabis users.”
     The study must take into account the “Cole Memo,” issued by the United State Department of Justice (USDOJ) in 2013. The memo outlines the federal government’s enforcement priorities in states where medical or recreational cannabis has been legalized or decriminalized. The study and recommendations are due to the legislature on December 1.
     “The agency is actively engaging other states, the public, the industry, and stakeholders,” said Rick Garza, WSLCB agency director. “We know there are many perspectives to this issue and we want to ensure they are captured for our report and recommendations.”
     The WSLCB is seeking input on three options at the public hearing.
     Option 1: Tightly Regulated Recreational Marijuana Home Grows
This option allows recreational home grows under a strict state regulatory framework based on the Cole Memo:
Requires a permit;
Four plants maximum per household;
Info on all plants must be entered into the state traceability system;
Meets requirements for security, preventing youth access, preventing diversion, etc.;
Jurisdiction is shared between WSLCB and local authorities
Statutory provision that allows law enforcement to seize and destroy all plants if beyond limit;
Allows recreational growers to purchase plants from licensed growers that have a permit;
Same restrictions on processing marijuana that apply to medical marijuana (no combustible processing).

     Option 2: Local Control of Recreational Marijuana Home Grows
This option is based on statewide standards including requirements for security, preventing youth access, preventing diversion, etc.;
Limits plants to 4 per household;
Allows recreational growers to purchase plants from licensed growers that have a permit.
Permit required to possess plants.

Difference from Option 1
Does not require info on plants to be entered into traceability system
State sets minimum requirements. Local jurisdictions can be more restrictive.
Authorized, controlled, and enforced by local jurisdictions;
Home grows are prohibited without local permission.

     Option 3. Recreational Home Grows Prohibited
This option preserves the status quo. Recreational home grows continue to remain prohibited:
A regulated market exists today with statewide access;
Recreational home grows may provide a cover for diversion;
The Cole Memo is concerned with diversion, youth access, and the criminal element;
Home grows for medical marijuana are allowed, as well as cooperatives.

     Washington is the only state of the eight legalized recreational cannabis states that does not allow recreational cannabis home grows. Washington allows authorized patients to have limited grows for medical purposes or to be part of a four-member medical cannabis cooperative if the cooperative registers with the WSLCB and the local jurisdiction does not object.
     Those wishing to view the public hearing may watch via WebEx. The live link will be posted to the Board Meeting webpage of the WSLCB website at lcb.wa.gov at least 24 hours in advance of the meeting.