Politics

How Washington Marijuana Laws Are Changing (For the Better)

By in Politics

In so many regards, we have it so good here in Washington State: The unspoiled, awe-inspiring beauty of natural resources like Puget Sound and the Olympic mountain range; a healthy economy based both on cutting-edge tech and natural products like old-growth timber, dairy and crops from our bountiful and productive acreage.

Oh, and don’t forget our forward-thinking cannabis laws!

Washington was ahead of the cannabis curve in many regards, decriminalizing medical use back in 1998, and pioneering—along with Colorado—full legalization in 2012 (full phase-in being completed in July 2014).

Now, three years in, public comfort with and acceptance of cannabis is high, no pun intended. But the making of Washington marijuana laws—like that of sausages, to quote Otto von Bismarck—is a complex, often messy affair, and when it comes to cannabis, it’s an understatement to categorize our laws as “works in progress.”

That said, considering that a few short years ago, the use and possession of cannabis garnered otherwise law-abiding citizens serious jail time, this evolution is nothing short of miraculous. It appears that post-legalization, we’re entering a period of refinement in which the concerns and desires of average citizens are percolating up to the statehouse and becoming enshrined in our state regulations.

This phase will take flower—again, a coincidental term—in July 2017, when Washington Senate Bill 5131 (essentially an amendment to the original 2012 bill) goes into effect. Broadly supported both by the burgeoning cannabis industry and by ordinary citizens, here are the main provisions of the revision:

The Newest Washington Marijuana Laws Taking Effect July 2017

Sharing is Now Caring

Previously, “sharing the wealth”—even in our decriminalized environment—was illegal. The original 2012 law that legalized recreational marijuana forbade the sharing of any cannabis products whatsoever.

Now, anyone of age (21 years or older) can “deliver” to another adult up to one-half ounce of flower, eight ounces of infused solid edible, 36 ounces of infused liquid, or three and one-half grams of concentrates, as long as no money changes hands. That said if you want to hand off in public, be sure to keep your consumables in their original packaging.

Home-Grown Fun?

Currently, Washington residents are not permitted to grow cannabis for their own recreational use. Now, the state liquor and cannabis board is required to conduct a study of options for “the legalization of marijuana plant possession and cultivation by recreational marijuana users” and report on their findings by December 1, 2017.

The Future Is Organic

From our perspective as purveyors of high-quality cannabis, one of the most exciting developments is the move—the first in the nation—towards the same organic-grade certification and standards that apply to food.

Though cannabis producers and retailers would still be forbidden to use the word “organic” to describe their products, the new bill proposes a system of standards that attempts to match “to the extent practicable” the federal Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program. This includes certification for producers and processors, inspections, testing, and enforcement.

And concerned canna-citizens take note: The process includes opportunities for public comment. Anyone wishing to participate as part of an advisory board should contact the WSDA Organic Program at [email protected] for consideration.

What do you think of the new provisions taking effect?