Good news, you green-thumbed pot fiends: Washington is again considering legislation that would allow you to grow your own cannabis plants at home, transforming your humble patio planter or backyard dirt patch into a site of debauchery and drug-fueled dissolution.
House Bill 1019 would allow adults to grow up to six plants (with a max of 15 per housing unit), and allows landlords to prohibit renters from growing cannabis. The proposal would require growers to label the plants with their name and address, keep the weed out of public view, and to ensure that the pot is not smellable from anyone else's property.
So is this a good bill, or a bad bill? Well, my impression of it for now is that it's a pretty good idea, and also pretty stupid.
First things first: Yes, of course we should be allowed to grow cannabis at home. It's just a plant! Come on! It's safe enough to buy, and it's safe enough to grow.
But also, because we live in a society and that society is very dumb, we must also perform an elaborate concern-dance when talking about anything that might be considered a vice, and we must also subject ourselves to regulations on top of regulations: Label the plants, ban them from having a smell, let landlords decide what their tenants can grow, etc, etc, etc.
Last year I created a fairly sizable container garden at my apartment building, filling an unused parking area with dozens of plants, almost all of which could be used to create intoxicants and all of which remain totally unregulated. I didn't have to label my hops or my potatoes despite their potential to be turned into alcohol, and the neighbors couldn't call the cops on my annoyingly fragrant honeysuckle.
What's more: Limiting growers to six plants seems divorced from the reality of growing plants. Having a plant isn't like having a lamp; it's not an object that just sits there. Plants reproduce, they die unexpectedly, and they do weird things like sprout clones without being asked to. I've been trying to kill a bunch of oxtail daisies in my garden for the last two years — they're illegal to sell in Washington because they're considered noxious weeds — and they just keep sending up new shoots every time I rip them out of the ground.
And what makes six the magic number of safe plants to own? If I have six plants and then a bird drops a seed for a seventh, why is that suddenly a problem? At this very moment, I have 12 garlic plants sprouting in my containers — does someone need to inform law enforcement?
At a public hearing earlier this week, opponents of the bill expressed concern that it would make it easier for young people to gain access to weed.
"Passage of this bill will create unregulated access to cannabis by children and adolescents whose guardians choose to grow it in their homes," said Trillium Swanson, a mental health counselor from Orcas Island. She called for the bill to be amended to require that each plant be registered with the state, which ... how would registering a plant with the state render it child-proof???
Anyway, despite the hand-wringing, it's past time for Washington to just let people grow the damn plants. Geez. Of the fifteen states that have legalized cannabis, only two — Illinois and Washington — don't allow people to grow their own. We don't want to be compared to Illinois, do we? Good grief! Legalize it already.