A bipartisan group of state legislators introduced legislation this morning that would legalize cannabis home grows in Washington, giving adults the right to grow up to six plants at home for personal use.
Two companion bills were simultaneously introduced in the Senate and House of Representatives with members of both parties signed onto the two bills. Washington is the only state in the nation that has legalized recreational cannabis without giving adults the right to grow pot at home. Is this the year that we finally legalize home grows? John Kingsbury, an advocate with Homegrow Washington that helped lobby for this year's legalization, thinks the legislation might be successful.
"I am absolutely convinced that if we get this to the floor we can get it passed," Kingsbury said. "I have gone to dozens and dozens of legislators asking for their support and the thing I kept hearing was ‘I don’t want to sign my name on it but I will vote on it if it comes to the floor.’"
The Senate version of the bill is sponsored by Sen. Maureen Walsh (R-Pasco), Sen. Bob Hasegawa (D-Seattle), Sen. Sam Hunt (D-Olympia), and Sen. Rebecca Saldaña (D-Seattle). The House bill is sponsored by Rep. Brian Blake (D-Longview), Rep. Drew MacEwen (R-Union), Rep. Laurie Dolan (D-Olympia), Rep. Jim Walsh (R-Longview), and Rep. Shelley Kloba (D-Bothell).
The two companion bills do not require permits for growing pot at home nor do they require homegrown pot be tracked by the state. That goes against what the state's Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) recommended last year. In 2017, the state legislature paid the board to study the issue and the LCB came up with two terrible options that would have required adults to acquire permits to grow pot at home.
Home grow advocates want cannabis to be treated just like wine or beer. You don't need a permit from the state to brew a beer at home, so why should you need one to grow a couple of cannabis flowers? Kingsbury said no other state with recreational pot requires tracking for homegrown weed.
"I went through every single home grow comment from last year and people were universally against it, they said, 'I want home grow but if it includes tracking I don’t want it,'" Kingsbury said.
Kingsbury added that the LCB's proposal to track homegrown pot may also be against the state's constitution because home growing pot is not a commercial activity.
The bills give landlords the right to prohibit home growing by their renters and selling homegrown pot would still be illegal.
The two bills were pre-filed on Friday and officially introduced on Monday, the first day of the 2019 legislative session. The bills were then sent to committees, which is where most bills go to die. If we want these things to become law (and let's be honest, we all should want home grows to be legal) we need to get these bills back to the chamber floor where they can be voted on.
You can help make this happen by writing all three of your state legislators. Everyone has two representatives and one senator; you can find yours here.