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Published on Friday, January 22, 2016

Slew of marijuana bills introduced in first few weeks

A number of bills related to marijuana regulation have been introduced during the 2016 legislative session. Most do not significantly impact cities and AWC will continue to follow them. However, we are supporting one bill and are opposing another. The bills include:

HB 1438, Rep. David Sawyer (D-Lakewood) – permitting cities, towns and counties to prohibit the production, processing and sale of marijuana under Initiative Measure No. 502 only by public vote.

HB 1438 would limit cities’ ability to prohibit the production, processing and sale of marijuana in their communities by requiring any such prohibition to only be enacted by a public vote. Currently cities have the authority to place bans or moratoriums on such activities through ordinances.

On January 18, The House Commerce & Gaming Committee took executive action on the bill. It is now in the Rules Committee. AWC is opposed to this legislation and urges you to contact Rules Committee members.

HB 2494/SB 6486, Rep. Gael Tarleton (D-Ballard) and Sen. Ann Rivers (R-La Center) – Concerning penalties for marijuana offenses.

HB 2494 and SB 6486 authorize the noncommercial delivery of marijuana and marijuana products in amounts equal to half of the current possession limits by a person 21 years of age or older to another person(s) 21 years of age or older. They reduce the penalties for possession and delivery of marijuana products in certain circumstances and require the marijuana concentrates to have been purchased from a marijuana retailer and be accompanied by packaging showing that the marijuana concentrates were purchased from a marijuana retailer.

AWC supports this legislation as a good middle ground. Currently, some jurisdictions are finding that it may be difficult for a county prosecutor to pursue a felony level case for some lower level possession crimes. This creates a misdemeanor level offense that a city could choose to prosecute.

Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) request legislation

HB 2520/SB 6304, Rep. Sharon Wylie (D-Vancouver) and Sen. Ann Rivers (R-La Center) - Concerning the sale of marijuana to regulated cooperatives.

These companion bills would provide a legal pathway for access to the starter plants that registered patients and cooperatives will need beginning in July 2016, by allowing licensed producers to sell directly to authorized patients. It is meant to further reduce the illicit market for marijuana.

HB 2521/SB 6303, Rep. Sharon Wylie (D-Vancouver) and Sen. Ann Rivers (R-La Center) - Allowing for proper disposal of unsellable marijuana by a licensed marijuana retail outlet.

According to I-502, licensed marijuana retailers are statutorily restricted from destroying damaged, expired, or otherwise unsellable marijuana. They must return the product to the processor they purchased it from to be destroyed. However, in some circumstances retailers are unable to return the product. Either they’ve lost contact with the licensed processor, no longer conduct business together, or the processor has gone out of business.

These companion bills allow the LCB to provide a pathway to regulate and oversee the disposal of these unsellable products. The proposal would grant the LCB authority to develop rules for determining a procedure for retailers to properly dispose of this product.

HB 2522/SB 6302, Rep. Sharon Wylie (D-Vancouver) and Sen. Ann Rivers (R-La Center) - Establishing crimes related to minors entering, remaining in, or being served by a marijuana retail outlet.

Initiative 502 established the selling of marijuana by a licensed retailer (the owner or the employee) to a minor below the age of 21 as a felony. However, criminal penalties were not identified for minors attempting to enter and purchase marijuana at a licensed store.

This clarifies and strengthens the law, providing a misdemeanor penalty to the minor (who does not carry a qualified medical authorization card) who enters a marijuana retail outlet, or misrepresents themselves as 21 or older. It makes it a gross misdemeanor for a store owner or employee to serve or allow a minor to enter a licensed retail outlet.

Other marijuana legislation

HB 2369/SB 6305, Rep. Chris Hurst (D-Enumclaw) and Sen. Ann Rivers (R-La Center) - Expanding Liquor and Cannabis Board officer enforcement authority.

These companion bills would give liquor enforcement officers the power and authority to enforce laws related to marijuana regulation and to serve and execute warrants under additional statutory codes. The officers may only exercise this authority while conducting their enforcement duties related to alcohol, tobacco and marijuana, or by working in partnership with state or local law enforcement officers.

SB 6207, Sen. Ann Rivers (R-La Center) - Concerning public disclosure of information submitted to the Liquor and Cannabis Board regarding marijuana product traceability and operations.

Two exemptions are added to the Public Records Act concerning the disclosure of certain marijuana business records:

  1. Financial, commercial operations and security-related information supplied to the LCB for the purpose of obtaining, maintaining, or renewing a license; and
  2. Information submitted to the LCB for marijuana product traceability purposes. This information includes: marijuana product ownership, locations, contact information, movements of product, financial information, purchase and sale of marijuana, account numbers or unique identifiers and related information that would identify a person or location.

Disclosure of these records is allowed for local, state and federal purposes.

Categories: Marijuana