- No, I'm not high. This bill in Olympia would both regulate medical marijuana and repeal legal pot in Washington.
Check out this summary of House Bill 1461. Part one: new rules to better regulate the state’s medical marijuana market. Part 17: repeal all of Washington's pot laws entirely and allow it only in pill form for patients 21 and older.
Here's the deal: This year's legislative session is full of questions about cannabis, from how it should be taxed to whether local governments should be able to ban pot shops to—the big one—what to do about medical marijuana, which remains largely unregulated alongside the new, super-regulated recreational system. So, lawmakers in both the house and senate have been introducing tons of bills that either propose a way to overhaul the whole system or deal just with some of these specific issues.
This particular 18-part house bill—introduced by Pierce County Democratic representative Christopher Hurst, an ex-cop who has, for the record, stood in the way of pot reform in the past—is a combination of most (if not all) of the house bills that have been filed dealing with marijuana.
Essentially, it’s putting them all in one place so legislators can see everything at once, carve out what they don’t like, and keep what they do. That makes some sense. But it also means citizens testifying in Olympia at today’s 12:30 p.m. hearing (and another one tomorrow at 1:30 p.m.) will have just a few minutes each to address a massive pile of issues.
Along with a plan for regulating medical cannabis and the nonsense shut-it-all-down option, the bill includes:
• A rule allowing cities and counties to ban marijuana businesses only through a public vote.
• A new pool of marijuana tax money to be disbursed to city and county governments.
• A new rule allowing cities and counties to change the 1,000-foot buffer (the rule in I-502 saying pot growers and stores must be at least 1,000 feet from places like schools and parks) to a 500-foot buffer.
• A new definition of “public place” (as in, where you’re not allowed to smoke weed) to match alcohol rules.
• New licenses for “common carriers” who can transport and deliver marijuana in the state (for example, from a grower to a store).
• New civil infractions for minors who try to buy pot and new language making it a misdemeanor to help a minor get pot. (It’s already a felony to sell directly to a minor.)
• A new requirement that the liquor control board contract with a law enforcement agency to “eradicate” illegal marijuana grows in Washington.
• Allowance for state and local cops to seize illegal marijuana and marijuana products and then sell them at auction to recreational businesses licensed under I-502. (Whatever agency seized the pot gets to keep the money, incentivizing crackdowns—which cost tax dollars—on medical or black market growers in a state where voters have essentially said through legalization that pot is not worth law enforcement’s time.)
Jesus. There is no way this goes well, right? The hearing in the House Committee on Commerce and Gaming starts at 12:30 and will be streaming here.