Earlier today, Governor Jay Inslee signed that big "omnibus bill" of pot laws that cleared the Washington legislature last month. The omnibus bill combined more than a dozen different legal changes to cannabis law in our state, including forward progress on legalizing growing pot at home and creating the country’s first state-run organic certification program for weed.
The governor has also just legalized the right for adults to share a joint, pass that bong, or load up your dab rig with a friend without fear of breaking state law. Unbeknownst to most people, the law that legalized recreational pot in 2012 expressly forbids adults from sharing pot with each other, even in amounts as tiny as a gram loaded into a glass bowl. That aspect of the law doesn't appear to have ever been enforced, so this is more of a legal cleanup than a change with a lot of practical implications.
As for the creation of an "organic" certification program for cannabis through the Washington State Department of Agriculture: Technically the federal government controls the term "organic," so this program can't use that term, but the state will still regulate and certify pot farms for growing pot in compliance with organic methods. This is the first attempt in the nation for a state government to certify organic pot; up until now only private companies had provided any organic certification.
The Department of Agriculture is now setting out to create the rules for the new program. Kathy Davis, a spokesperson for the department, couldn't give an estimate for when the first pot farm would be certified, saying in an e-mail that the rulemaking process could "take several months to as long as a year. No certifications will be issued until the rules are complete and have been adopted."
The department hasn't lined up a replacement for the term "organic," so I put a few ideas in a poll at the end of this post. If you have better ideas than mine, put them in the comments. The state is seeking comment from outside stakeholders on what the term should be and program's rules. Feel free to send your ideas to email@example.com.
And there's plenty of other stuff in the bill the governor signed today, including:
• Medical weed patients can now buy seeds and pot plants from producers. After the state shuttered the medical system in 2015 patients lost this ability, forcing them into the black market to find seeds. This returns that right to patients.
• LCB will study the feasibility of allowing every adult over 21 the right to grow pot at home. We are the only state with recreational legalization that doesn't allow this. The LCB will now be forced to say why we should or should not be able to grow our own pot.
• Weed businesses can no longer depict pot plants or cartoons on any billboards.
• The state will study legalizing industrial hemp production. It is still illegal to grow hemp, the version of the cannabis plant with no psychoactive effects but big industrial potential, even though we allow drug version of cannabis. This law forces the state to study how to legalize hemp and what the possible effects of legalizing hemp would be.