Liquor and Cannabis Board to hold public hearing on recreational marijuana home grows

Agency tasked by new law to conduct study and make recommendations to Legislature by Dec. 1, 1017
OLYMPIA – The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) will hold a public hearing on Wed. Oct. 4, 2017, to receive public input on whether the State should allow home grows of recreational marijuana. The public hearing is during the regularly scheduled 10:00 a.m. Board meeting at its headquarters at 3000 Pacific Avenue in Olympia. Due to space and parking restrictions, the WSLCB encourages written public comment. Written public comment may be submitted by email through Oct. 11, 2017 at or hard copy 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 marijuana plant possession and cultivation by recreational marijuana users.” The study must take into account the “Cole Memo,” issued by the United State Department of Justice in 2013, which 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 Dec. 1, 2017.
“The agency is actively engaging other states, the public, the industry and stakeholders. We know there are many perspectives to this issue and we want to ensure they are captured for our report and recommendations,” said agency director Rick Garza. 
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;
    • All plants must be entered into the state traceability system; 
    • 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 licensees as long as growers 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 licensees as long as growers have a permit.
    • Requires a permit to possess plants. 
  • Difference from Option 1
    • Does not require plants to be entered into traceability
    • 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 are 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.
Among the eight states that have legalized recreational marijuana, Washington is the only state that does not allow marijuana home grows. Washington allows authorized patients to have limited grows for medical purposes or to be part of a four-member medical marijuana 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 at least 24 hours in advance of the meeting. 
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