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Published on Friday, July 31, 2015

Big session for marijuana reform

2015 was a huge session for marijuana legislation. Going into the session, AWC had three priorities:

  • Retain existing regulatory authority
  • Reconcile medical and recreational marijuana markets while maintaining patient access
  • Secure marijuana excise tax revenue sharing for cities

We were successful in making progress on all three priorities.

Cities successfully repelled efforts to pre-empt existing regulatory authority to ban marijuana businesses. Some legislators pushed to require a public vote prior to enacting or enforcing a ban. We are very appreciative of the efforts of Reps. Rodne (R-Snoqualmie) and Reykdal (D-Olympia) as well as others to remove that language from HB 2136 prior to its passage in the House. Additionally, thanks to the work of the City of Kirkland and others, we gained additional local flexibility in siting marijuana businesses with the passage of HB 2136. Cities may now choose to adopt buffer zones that are less than one thousand feet from places like parks, transit centers, and child care facilities.

In addition to HB 2136, the Legislature passed SB 5052, sponsored by Sen. Rivers (R-La Center), which brings the unregulated medical market in line with the recreational market. SB 5052 eliminates unlicensed collective gardens beginning on July 1, 2016 and directs the Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) to implement licensing for eligible medical marijuana businesses. For more about SB 5052 check out this summary.

We also made progress convincing the Legislature that it must share some of the marijuana excise tax revenue with local governments. We worked in partnership with the Washington State Counties Association to secure funding for both cities and counties. While the amount of funding being shared this biennium (FY 2015-17) is relatively small at $6 million per year, it is a step in the right direction. Under HB 2136 the amount shared will grow slowly with the cap increase to $15 million per year in FY 2017-19 and $20 million per year in subsequent biennia. For 2015-17 the money will be split 60% to counties and 40% to cities with funding only going to those jurisdictions with retail businesses. For a breakdown of revenue distributions see here. AWC would like to recognize the many legislators who worked on behalf of cities on this issue, especially Sens. Rivers (R-La Center) and Mullet (D-Issaquah), as well as Reps. Carlyle (D-Seattle) and Reykdal (D-Olympia).

AWC staff would like to express our enormous gratitude to the many city officials who worked tirelessly on these priority issues. This is a complex and contentious issue and we would not have made this progress without the collective voices of our city officials. Thank you. While we made good progress this year, we know that there will continue to be outstanding issues around the legalization of marijuana in the coming year(s).

BillTracker Bill # Descriptive title Final status
  HB 2000 Entering into agreements with tribes Law; Effective 7/24/2015
Yes SB 5052 Cannabis patient protection act Law; Effective 7/24/2015
  SB 5121 Marijuana research license Law; Effective 7/24/2015
Yes HB 2136 Marijuana market reform Law; Effective 7/1/2015
  HB 1041 Vacating certain misdemeanor marijuana offenses Failed
Yes HB 1165 Establishing a dedicated local marijuana fund Failed
  HB 1334 Taxes paid on marijuana producers, processors, retailers Failed
  HB 1335 500 – 1,000 feet siting Failed
  HB 1359 Minor use of marijuana Failed
  HB 1360 Public use of marijuana Failed
  HB 1361 Donations to LCB for public awareness of marijuana consumption Failed
  HB 1411 Exempting siting restrictions in certain circumstances Failed
  HB 1412 Passing ordinance for local control Failed
  HB 1413 Decreases buffer distance to 100 feet between rec marijuana and rec centers or facilities, etc. Failed
  HB 1414 Exempts taxation of marijuana seeds and live, cloned nonflowering marijuana plants between producers Failed
  HB 1418 LCB contract with state and local law enforcement to eradicate illegal marijuana ops Failed
  HB 1438 Allows locals to prohibit sale of marijuana by ordinance only with public vote Failed
  HB 1461 Omnibus marijuana bill Failed
  HB 1650 Allows law enforcement to auction marijuana seized from illegal operations Failed
  HB 1698 Medical marijuana bill Failed
  HB 1753 Cannabis topical applicants – exempts from the regulations of the uniform controlled substances act that apply to marijuana, etc. Failed
  HB 1765 Makes all marijuana illegal except for medical marijuana in pill form Failed
  HB 1776 Transfer of marijuana by a common carrier Failed
  HB 2008 Comprehensive marijuana reform, including sharing marijuana reveue with cities Failed
  SB 5002 Marijuana traffic infractions Failed
  SB 5130 Restricting marijuana producer and processor businesses from being located in certain residential and rural areas. Failed
  SB 5398 Concerning marijuana, useable marijuana, and marijuana-infused products in public. Failed
  SB 5402 Ensuring safe, responsible, and legal acquisition of marijuana by adults. Failed
Yes SB 5417 Local government marijuana policies Failed
  SB 5450 Expanding the restrictions on locating marijuana businesses. Failed
  SB 5519 Enacting the comprehensive marijuana reform act Failed
  SB 5572 Concerning the sales, distribution, and delivery of marijuana. Failed
  SB 6062 Medical marijuana regulation Failed