Washington’s lawmakers have failed—yet again—to legalize homegrown pot in our state. That means we will continue to be one of the only places in the world where you can legally walk into a store and buy a $1 joint, yet it is illegal for you to have a cannabis house plant.
HB 1131, which would have given every adult in Washington state the legal right to grow six pot plants, failed to make it out of the House of Representative’s Committee on Appropriations before the committee’s deadline. That means the bill’s chances of passage during this year’s quick legislative session are essential dead.
The bipartisan bill was looking good this year, with a majority of Seattle’s lawmakers supporting it. The proposed law got further than ever before when it made it out of the Commerce and Gaming Committee and got a hearing in Appropriations. But it still failed, despite the mountain of common sense reasons for passing it.
In fact, the bill may have died because there were TOO MANY good reasons for passing it.
Rep. Brian Blake, a Democrat from Aberdeen who sponsored the bill, said people testifying in support of the bill during a hearing this month may have taken too much of the committee’s time.
“It’s very possible to kill the bill you want by over testifying,” Blake said. “Twenty people signed in to testify and the committee spent an entire hour on the bill which I think kind of lulled the committee to sleep.”
Rep. Tim Ormsby, a Democrat from Spokane who chairs the Appropriations Committee, told The Stranger that he reprimanded Blake after the February 5 hearing.
“I chewed out the prime sponsor saying, 'Brian we had all of this testimony at the end I’ve got cranky members,'” Ormsby said. “It is a widely known principal that a bill’s chances of success is inversely proportionate to the amount of time a committee spends on it.”
(Side note: this makes me regret telling readers on February 3 that it would be a good idea to show up in person to show support for the bill. I didn't realize lawmakers were so uncomfortable seeing their constituents in person.)
Ormsby said his “admonishment” was only towards Blake and that the extended testimony didn’t actually factor into the committee’s decision not to not even let the bill get a vote. Ormsby said the committee’s members were worried about the federal government possibly being mad at Washington for legalizing homegrown weed and threatening Washington’s “nascent” weed industry.
This is—of course—complete bullshit. Colorado has had legalized home grows since 2012 and they still have a fully functioning weed market. It’s also strange to call Washington’s weed industry “nascent” when weed has been legal in Washington for eight years. People were buying new iPhone 5s when weed first went on sale in Washington.
Hopefully next year Washington’s lawmakers will wake up and legalize homegrown weed.