Don't Expect to See Legal Pot Delivered to Your Doorstep Anytime Soon
The bill from Representative Chris Hurst (D-Enumclaw) that would have set up a pilot program allowing for delivery service by state-licensed cannabis retailers failed to meet the house's February 26 voting cutoff on policy bills.
According to Hurst, it wasn't popular with certain parts of Seattle's pot industry, which didn't trust the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board to implement it fairly. Despite these woes, Hurst told me, the bill could still make it, as it has a fiscal component and could be voted on as part of the budget process.
"It's not dead yet," he said. "I think it's a very good bill, and I think Seattle brought forward a good proposal. I'd like to see it move through. And I'm not done yet with the tax reduction bill or the preemption bill."
On February 24, Hurst dropped off a brand-new bill that, in addition to being the most quotable piece of cannabis legislation I've ever seen, combined his other pet projects: the tax reduction bill and the bill that preempts counties, cities, and towns from implementing moratoriums or bans on marijuana businesses without putting it to a public vote.
After going on a quixotic journey of justification for marijuana—"The legislature finds that although the relationship between humans and marijuana probably goes back a lot further, tombs of Egyptian mummies dating to 950 BC were found to contain marijuana"—the bill lays out a strong case for cheaper, more widely available weed.
In the announcement of the bill, Hurst's office included estimates showing that, if his Franken-bill does make it through the woefully short legislative session, the state could see more than $1 billion in new tax revenue over the next five years. That's a pretty attractive number, especially given that we're still fucked on school funding.
Sadly, delivery is not included in Hurst's juggernaut, and here in Seattle, the city's crackdown on delivery will continue, says Deputy City Attorney John Schochet. He recently spoke in favor of the delivery bill in front of Hurst's Commerce & Gaming Committee and said he was "disappointed" that it didn't pass.
"It's always better to have a legal option to point people to who want delivery, but we're not going to have that," Schochet said. "We do have a good brick-and-mortar retail market." He urged consumers to stop using illegal delivery services, despite a lack of legal alternatives.
"With some advance planning, people should be able to buy any marijuana that they want to use from the brick-and-mortar stores," he said. "We're never going to make headway if people continue to use the illegal market. It's incumbent upon anyone who wants legalization to work to use the legal stores."
Homegrow Legal in Canada, Fails to Take Root Here
On February 24, Canada's Federal Court ruled that the government must allow medical marijuana patients to grow their own marijuana. The arguments that helped win over Canada's highest court are eerily similar to what homegrow activists here in Washington are saying: Legal pot is prohibitively expensive for low-income patients, they need access to specific strains, and if they can't grow their own, they'll turn to the black market for affordable weed.
If you've ever grown pot, which I've absolutely 100 percent never done, you know that it's a painstaking process and more expensive than you would think. However, for the purposes of personal use, especially for those who require high dosages to treat their medical conditions, it can provide a cost-effective alternative to buying pricey legal weed or illegal black-market weed.
Like the weed-delivery bill, our homegrow bill in Olympia seems to be trapped indefinitely. This year, it was Representative Hurst himself who sent it back to legislative purgatory, declining to put it up for a vote in his Commerce & Gaming Committee at a February 8 meeting.
While Hurst is a big supporter of legal pot and a big fan of the tax money it brings, he's been historically skeptical of the less-regulated medical marijuana industry, where most of the support for homegrow comes from. In 2013, he called the MMJ industry "an enterprise that is 99 and nine-tenths percent—maybe not nine-tenths but 99.2 percent—just a criminal enterprise."
Potheads Are Holding—Degrees and Babies, That Is
After all that depressing news, here's something uplifting: A survey of 1,400 patients by HelloMD, an online service that facilitates medical marijuana patient authorizations, seems to indicate that potheads aren't, as the movie Half Baked led millions to believe, a bunch of adorably incompetent morons. Proof of that: 45 percent of respondents had their shit together enough to give birth to and care for a tiny human, and 85 percent of respondents had some form of higher education. And 15 percent even had postgraduate degrees!
Also interesting: The vast majority of respondents lived in or near major metropolitan areas, and anxiety was the number-one symptom they used medical marijuana to treat.