By Tami Jackson
Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) is lit by new legislation that regards whether or not this state should make it legal for civilians to grow marijuana for nonmedical reasons. Meanwhile, citizens (infused by the possibilities for growing recreational cannabis) are breathing it all in. Some are deciding whether or not to attend the public hearing on Wednesday, Oct. 4, at 10 a.m., 3000 Pacific Ave., Olympia.
As part of the new task, the WSLCB is conducting a survey/study to gather feedback and then will make recommendations to the state legislature about home-grown pot by Dec. 1. While the public hearing takes place next week, thanks to limited parking the WSLCB encourages written public comment in lieu of attendance and encourages folks to watch the video streamed over the Internet.
Where to e-mail support
for the backyard boogie
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. Written comments can be submitted through Oct. 11, by e-mail to email@example.com or by hard copy to P.O. Box 43080, Olympia, WA 98504. The state’s press release on this topic can be found at lcb.wa.gov/pressreleases/lcb-to-hold-hearing-on-recreational-home-grows.
To help determine whether state citizens ought to be allowed to grow recreational marijuana in their homes and gardens or not, the WSLCB is respiring the pros and cons while burning it all down to one of three options: first, whether marijuana laws should be changed to allow home-grown recreational marijuana under tight state regulations. Second, whether home grows should happen under a local government’s exclusive watch or third, whether the whole idea is completely bonkers and folks should be prohibited from growing cannabis for nonmedical reasons indoors and outside, altogether.
The WSLCB study will consider feedback from other states, the public, the industry and stakeholders. Pioneering that important inquiry, Tacoma Weekly launched its own poll to learn what owners of cannabis-related businesses thought about the prospects of Washington citizens growing herb and flower for recreational purposes legally at home. According to our survey, not even one business owner seemed worried about a home grower competing for profits against commercial producers.
Danielle Rosellison, co-owner of Trail Blazin’ Productions in Bellingham, said: “Home grows should unequivocally be allowed in Washington state and in all states for that matter.” She admits that how we go about making that happen while cannabis is still federally illegal is fraught with even more questions, but since other states allow for home grows there is no reason for Washington to be more strict about it. “We already have the most tightly regulated commercial system, so if our home grow is at a minimum on par with all the other states, I see no reason to fear federal intervention,” Rosellison said.
Seven states and the District of Columbia currently allow citizens to grow recreational cannabis at home: Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada and Oregon. In fact, home gardening with marijuana has been so seamless in Colorado that the Centennial State is now doubling the number of plants that its citizens can grow for recreational purposes to a maximum of 12 plants per resident beginning in January 2018.
“Among the eight states that have legalized growing recreational marijuana, Washington is the only one that currently prohibits it,” states a Sept. 13 press release from the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board.
Jeremy Deichen, producer of “Growing Exposed,” which High Times magazine publishes once a month, made another valid point. “Think about all the rules you live with. The advertising rules, all these things are really just to protect the children. They’re really not about the adults. You can look at why the rules are there and why they enacted them. If the children are protected, I think growing recreational cannabis is fine,” Deichen said and then added: “If you are able to have a firearm, you cannot just leave it out on your front porch.”
Just as firearms are stored in a gun safe, the WSLCB could easily enact rules for keeping marijuana out of children’s reach. Obviously the state of Massachusetts was thinking along those same lines when it produced laws to allow citizens to grow recreational cannabis provided their plants are kept in a locked or secured location where nobody can see the plants from a public space, not even with the use of binoculars, aircraft, or other optical aids.
“I believe that there will always be a place for small amounts to be grown at home much like the small home brew setups for beer brewing hobbyists,” said Mary Mart Owner Damien McDivitt, who added that growing marijuana and brewing alcohol at home is much more expensive on the small scale than on the commercial level, considering the cost of equipment, consumables and time invested in home crafts. “These hobbies should be undertaken by those with a passion for having fun and enjoying their hobby and not by those looking to save money or skirt the law,” McDivitt said.
“I would never want to encourage anyone to enter into an illegal enterprise especially when there is an amazing array of quality products available through the state’s licensed marijuana shops. We also want to be aware that our friends at the federal level of law enforcement are watching our marijuana programs very carefully and if we do a poor job of enforcement and compliance they could stop our wonderful industry from continuing to exist.”
The Cole Memo is HIGHly
important to the Cannabis Industry
While conducting the new study and formulating its recommendations, our state dictates that the LCB will keep in mind the Cole Memo, a memorandum that’s crazily important to anyone in the marijuana industry because it works like the state’s medieval shield against the federal government’s probing sword. Published by the Department of Justice and issued by then-Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole, the Cole Memo advises state prosecutors and law enforcement officials on what priorities they should focus on to avoid federal interference. A copy of that memorandum can be found at: justice.gov/iso/opa/resources/3052013829132756857467.pdf
To that end, Garrett Rudolph, editor at both Marijuana Venture and SunGrower & Greenhouse magazines, said: “In a perfect world, I think all residents should be allowed to grow cannabis, with minimal restrictions in place and no permit required.” Then Rudolph went on to say that in Colorado, growing cannabis at home has not necessarily led to an increase in crime or a rise in youth consumption. Yet Rudolph also said that consumers have exported cannabis, that they acquired legally, across state lines where the herb is not legal. Rudolph said that illegal crossing of jurisdictions is what threatens the livelihood of state-licensed businesses due to priorities established by the Cole Memo.
Rudolph also mentioned how homes can become damaged due to mold from indoor grow set-ups and there is also a tremendous impact on electrical utilities with indoor gardens. “Therefore, I would say Washington should thoroughly explore the wide range of impacts associated with home-growing of cannabis before making its ultimate decision,” Rudolph said.
“I would also add that in the current political climate, with Attorney General Jeff Sessions looking for any reason to shut down the cannabis industry, home growing may put Washington’s entire legal, recreational marijuana program in jeopardy – a risk that might not be worth taking,” Rudolph said.
The current WSLCB study will help determine what home grows should look if it ever does become legal to grow nonmedical pot in Washington. Questions the WSLCB is now asking citizens are: Should home growers be required to get a permit for growing cannabis? How many plants might they legally grow per household? And, should growers be required to enter themselves into a state traceability system in order to grow recreational cannabis at home?
Greg James, publisher of the journal of professional cannabis growers Marijuana Venture, said other states are more lenient than ours in regard to growing marijuana and also in regard to allowed retail activities. “In Oregon, for example, they (cannabis retailers) can sell anything except tobacco, alcohol and guns in their Cannabis stores. Same in California and Nevada,” he said. James feels Washington’s restrictions on retailers are much too tight and that only hurts the cannabis business over all.
The WSLCB study will not only examine what security requirements would best prevent youth access and prevent diversion but will help select the best governing authority for seizing and destroying any plants grown above the allowed number of herbs per household.
The historic moment that legalized adult-use of marijuana in Washington was the passing of Initiative 502 during the 2012 general election. Subsequently, Washington’s current laws allow authorized patients to grow between six and 15 plants, depending on their doctor’s prescription and growing plants for nonmedical reasons are prohibited.