All three bills got hearings this week in the House Committee on Commerce and Gaming, reports Tim Gruver at the Kirkland Reporter.
HB 1712: Marijuana Home DeliveryYou could buy cannabis without leaving home if a new bill, HB 1712, is approved. It would allow delivery services to bring weed to your door.
The bill would allow cannabis retailers to take orders by phone or online for adults 21 and older. Washington’s legalization law, I-502, currently only allows pot purchases at brick-and-mortar stores.
One opponent of HB 1712 claimed this would lessen safety for both customers and employees by allowing transactions in “insecure locations.”“So that this bill does is take away the walls, it takes away the witnesses, it takes way the cameras and the security protocols and any sort of alarms,” said John Kingsbury, of the medical marijuana advocacy group Patients United. Kingsbury seems to feel such security concerns outweigh the needs of homebound patients who are unable to visit a store to procure their supply.
“I have to think that the first kid that gets stabbed, or shot, or beaten, you’re going to feel a bit responsible for that,” Kingsbury claimed. “If this isn’t a recipe for disaster, I don’t know what is.”
Kingsbury ignored the fact that medical and black market delivery services have operated in Washington state for years. While this reporter has heard a couple of instances of delivery drivers being robbed in the past eight years, I am not aware of any stabbings, shootings, or beatings.Rep. David Sawyer (D-Tacoma) said the measure’s risk to marijuana users is minimal, and that increasing access to cannabis is critical to undercut black market distributors. The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) would have to figure out how much marijuana each driver is allowed to carry, according to Rep. Sawyer.
“Our whole goal is that we’re taking down the black market, the cartels, and that we’re running a safe, legal market,” Sawyer said. “We want to compete on convenience and a fair price point.”
HB 2021: Medical Cannabis Seeds and Clones for PatientsMarijuana patients who want to grow their medicine at home could get some help from HB 2021, which would license adult medicinal users to grow and possess unlimited cannabis seeds at their residence.
Current law allows medical marijuana patients who choose to be listed in the state’s database to buy and possess up to six cannabis plants, and eight ounces of marijuana produced from those plants. Patients who don’t want to register in the database are allowed just four plants and six ounces.
“This bill closes a gap and it’s important that we close this gap, because there are folks who qualify to have marijuana plants, but they don’t have access to them,” said Rep. Jessyn Farrell (D-Seattle).
“This bill is very important because there are a lot of people out there who can no longer get plants because dispensaries closed that used to sell clones and seeds,” patient Laurie Jackson told the House Commerce and Gaming Committee.
The state’s initial implementation of cannabis legalization didn’t adequately guarantee medical marijuana patients like himself access to seeds or clones, which helps patients save money, according to Kirk Ludden, a lobbyist for the patient advocacy group Viper PAC.
“It was a mishap that it was left out that patients could not even find a place to get their seeds and clones,” Ludden said. “Many people are not experienced growers, and can very easily have that male plant seed the entire crop. You could have 100 seeds and now you’re a felon.”
The bill would benefit medical marijuana growers who don’t want to deal with the retail industry’s red tape, according to Viper PAC director John Novak.
“As a license, I don’t like the idea of having to go into a retail shop and not know whether I was put into the registry, the traceability system, or what,” Novak said. “We’re much better off going straight to the growers than the middle man at the retail level.”
HB 2064: Removing Industrial Hemp From Washington State’s Controlled Substances ScheduleIndustrial hemp obviously doesn’t belong on the state’s list of controlled substances. It’s there because the federal government classifies cannabis as a Schedule I substance, meaning they think weed it has a “high risk of abuse” and “no accepted medical use.” According to federal law, strains containing 0.3 percent or more of the psychoactive cannabinoid, THC, are considered marijuana. Strains which contain less than 0.3 percent THC are considered hemp.
HB 2064 would remove industrial hemp entirely from the state controlled substances schedule.
Washington in 2016 kicked off an industrial hemp research program under the state Department of Agriculture. It will study the growth, cultivation and marketing of industrial hemp. At least 30 states have similar programs or studies.Rep. Matt Shea (R-Spokane), sponsor of the bill, said it’s important to remove hemp from the drug schedule to better combat future federal suits against hemp farmers.
“The whole reason that Washington had to adopt a separate controlled substances act was because Washington State has separate jurisdiction from the federal government on this issue,” Rep. Shea said. This bill intends to “make it very clear that Washington, right now, is removing hemp from the scheduling act, so it gives us better legal grounds to defend against any sort of federal intrusion later to prosecute people growing hemp here,” he added.
Activist John Worthington urged the lawmakers to remove all varieties of cannabis, not just the hemp ones, from the state’s drug schedule. Ending marijuana’s status as a controlled substance, he argued, would curtail the federal government’s ability to seize hemp under the federal Interstate Commerce Clause. That could be a factor if Trump’s new Attorney General Jeff Sessions decides to challenge state marijuana laws.