Lawmakers in Olympia celebrated 4/20 early this year, passing three different laws this week that will make stoners lives easier across the entire state. Here’s what the lawmakers have been up to with regard to pot.
68,000 pot convictions can now be vacated: Do you have a misdemeanor marijuana possession conviction on your record? The Legislature just passed a bill that forces the courts to vacate all misdemeanor possession convictions as long as the person with the conviction applies to clear their record. The bill passed the Senate in March and the House on Tuesday. The law still needs to go through a conference committee and get signed by Gov. Jay Inslee, but that is expected to happen. Sen. Joe Nguyen, a Democrat representing West Seattle who sponsored the legislation, said he was “so fucking pumped about this one” shortly after it passed on Tuesday.
“[This is] literally one of the most egregious examples of institutional racism and failed justice system. And we fucking got it done… just needs the governor’s signature and he said he supports [it],” Nguyen said in a text message. The senator later added that he has requested that the governor sign the bill on Saturday, which is of course 4/20.
Compliance reform passes: The Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) will no longer be able to punish pot business owners with huge fines after the governor signs Senate Bill 5318. The Senate passed the bill in March and the House passed the bill in an 88 to 8 vote on Tuesday. The law still needs to go through a conference committee but it’s expected to make it to Gov. Jay Inslee’s desk and he is expected to sign the legislation into law.
The law will radically change how Washington’s pot business owners are punished when they violate the LCB’s rules. Currently, even small violations like a broken video camera or a missing pot tag can net big monetary fines and even cancel a pot farm’s license. This bill forces the LCB to offer lower penalties for a majority of any rules violations that do not affect public safety. It also forces the agency to create a program that allows license holders to voluntarily ask if they are in compliance without facing penalties.
Vicki Christophersen, a lobbyist and executive director of the Washington CannaBusiness Association, said the bill’s new regulations were “critical reforms.”
Budtenders are off the felonious hook: Washington’s budtenders face huge penalties if they fuck up and accidentally sell a minor pot. They can get charged with a felony on their first offense. But the Legislature passed a law this week that would change that and reduce the penalty for accidentally selling to a minor to a misdemeanor. That will make the penalty more similar to the penalties bartenders face for selling alcohol to minors.
The House passed the bill in March and the Senate passed the bill Monday in a 28 to 17 vote. Republicans were the dicks who voted against this bill.
This year has been a good year for pot advocates with these three bills as well as a different bill that delivered a long sought after goal for the industry: getting the LCB’s hands off cannabis lab regulation. But Wednesday’s bill cut-off deadline came and went for another year without the Legislature passing a homegrow bill. That means Washington is still the only place in the world where recreational pot is legal but it is still against the law for adults to grow pot at home. I was in Olympia this week doing some work looking into why our Legislature can’t get their heads out of their asses and give us the right to grow pot at home. Look out for that story in the coming weeks.