Washington Attempts to Reintroduce Homegrow Bill
Many people who live in states where cannabis has been legalized have the opportunity to grow their own cannabis plants at home within specified grow limits. Washington is the only state that has legalized marijuana, while prohibiting adults from growing recreational cannabis in their residence for personal use.
If the Homegrow Bill passes, it would allow people 21 and over to grow a maximum of six plants at their place of residence, and a maximum of 15 plants in a shared residence for their recreational use. This is not the first time this bill has been introduced. Despite previous defeats, advocates are once again pushing for Washington to finally join the other states who allow their citizens to grow their own cannabis plants at home for personal use.
In 2015, Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Wells introduced Bill SB6083, which would’ve allow adults to grow six plants for their personal use. The benefits of the proposed bill - if approved - was predicted to chip away at the illegal sale of cannabis. The bill would also create an equal playing field between people who make their own beer and wine versus those who want to grow their own cannabis.
In 2016 The Washington State Liquor Control Board introduced two Home Grow options. Both choices were rejected. Proponents who support the bill have stated that this bill has not been able to pass due to lack of support from legislators. There is optimistic hope that the bill could pass this time around due to Democratic majority increases in the House since the November’s midterm election.
There are many restrictions set forth by Washington’s state Liquor and Cannabis Board. The new proposed bills would eliminate many of these limitations that include, four plant limits, a tracking system for each each marijuana plant and a government issued I.D. Under the new plan, adults would be able to grow up to six plants without a tracking system or permits.
Police officers and regulators have stated that allowing people to grow their own weed at home makes compliance enforcement more complicated. Others argue that the Homegrow Bill would help the black market grow. The LCB stated in a 2017 report that many criminals operate under the cover as “home grow.”
The LCB has made claims that allowing for the Homegrow Bill would give more young people access to marijuana. The agency also stated that tobacco is not allowed for home production either.
Proponents of the new law claim that current legislation restrict buyer’s access to cannabis and forces people to buy from businesses. They also have the opposite view of their opponents claiming that the home grow bill would decrease illegal sales. Their reasoning behind this is that people who don’t have access to dispensaries could grow their own at home instead of seeking out cannabis from the black market.
Advocates of the bill would like to see marijuana regulated in an equal manner to alcohol. A permit is not needed from Washington to make beer. Proponents argue that since both are legal, why is it that cannabis continues to be treated differently?
The public has given their feedback in support of Homegrow. The main objection that supporters have of the Homegrow bill is the tracking of the marijuana plants grown. John Kingsbury who is an advocate with Homegrow Washington, stated that the tracking provision of the LCB’s proposed bill could prove to be against Washington’s constitution since growing marijuana at home does not fall under commercial activity.
So far, the Homegrow Bill has gained support from a handful of representatives and senators, the following supporters are:
The House version of the bill, HB1131, is sponsored by:
- Reps. Brian Blake (D-Longview)
- Jesse Young (R-Gig Harbor)
- Roger Goodman (D-Kirkland)
- Laurie Dolan (D-Olympia)
- Drew MacEwen (R-Union)
- Jim Walsh (R-Longview)
- Cindy Ryu (D-Shoreline)
- Shelley Kloba (D-Bothell)
The Senate version of the bill SB 5155 is sponsored by:
- Sam Hunt (D-Olympia
- Sens. Maureen Walsh (R-Pasco)
- Rebecca Saldana (D-Seattle)
- Bob Hasegawa (D-Seattle)