A homegrown, backyard cannabis plant a few weeks before harvest.

Graham Abbott

Washington Activists Say Proposed Home Grow Plan is a No-Go

Despite Washington‘s status as a pioneer in cannabis reform, the actual cannabis policy on the ground in Washington has not always been ideal. For example, the legislature eliminated a thriving medical cannabis system in 2015 and the Evergreen State — unlike the seven other legal cannabis states — still does not allow adults over 21 to grow their own cannabis.

After a home grow bill failed in the 2017 legislative session, state lawmakers directed the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) to conduct a feasibility study by December 1 of adult use cannabis home grows. After seeking input from other states, the public, and industry stakeholders, the WSLCB has put forward three proposals for public comment.

Unfortunately, many see the proposals as more misguided cannabis regulations that will further undermine the true personal freedom intentions of legalization — but here is an overview of what the WSLCB has come up with.

Option 1 (Tight control based on the Cole Memo)

  • Restricted to 4 plants
  • Home growers must have a permit
  • Plants must be entered into the state traceability software
  • Security in place to prevent youth access
  • The WSLCB and local authorities would share jurisdiction
  • Authorities can seize plants if over the limit
  • Growers would get plants from licensed I-502 producers
  • Medical cannabis processing restrictions would apply

Option 2 (Based on state regulations with attention to diversion and youth access)

  • Restricted to 4 plants
  • Home growers must have a permit
  • Local authorities have jurisdiction and can ban home grows locally
  • Growers would get plants from licensed I-502 producers
  • Medical cannabis processing restrictions would apply

The WSLCB does list the “status quo” as a third option, and this, according to several industry experts, may sadly be the best choice.

“I think the WSLCB was put in a no-win situation on this issue,” said John Novak, founder of 420 Leaks. “They are a regulatory and enforcement agency that is not capable of implementing or even recognizing the civil and human rights angle. It’s not like they just forgot about that, we have been contacting them and our legislators about this fatal flaw. It was no surprise that the only options to come out of this group end up looking like more police state monitoring of individuals, or maintaining a complete prohibition.”

Dr. Dominic Corva, founder of the Center for Study of Cannabis and Social Policy, wrote that the “WSLCB has delivered a perfectly reasonable set of options to the legislature’s mandate that they carry out a study on the feasibility of regulated home grow,” but that the agency is “institutionally incapable of prioritizing the civil liberties” and, “as a private police force, it can and does assume adult citizens are potential vectors of illegality, not stakeholders in a civil liberties experiment.”

Both Novak and Corva threw their support behind Option 3, the status quo, hoping for a different approach to the home grow issue. Dr. Corva called for Washingtonians to “focus instead on working for Legislative change, including the two existing civil liberties home grow bills still in process that will be taken up again in January.”

Novak said there is “no justification for these kinds of laws as they are only protecting their profits, regulatory and enforcement jobs at the expense of our constitutional rights.”

“We need to strip away laws that regulate what grown men and women are able to do in the privacy of their own homes, not add more,” he said.

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