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Published on Friday, March 21, 2014

Legislature fails to pass significant marijuana legislation this session.

There were around 53 bills proposed this session related to some aspect of marijuana.  Out of all of those bills, only one passed - HB 2304 allows licensed recreational marijuana businesses to produce and sell marijuana concentrates and exempts account information of state licensed marijuana businesses from the public records act.

3ESSB 5887 AWC’s priority for 2014 focused on reconciling the unregulated medical marijuana and regulated recreational marijuana systems and securing a share of the recreational marijuana excise tax revenue for cities.  We worked very hard for the passage of 3ESSB 5887 which, in its original form, accomplished both of our goals.  Unfortunately, amendments adopted in the Senate removed the revenue sharing provisions.  The bill hit additional trouble in the House over strong disagreements between House Republicans and House Democrats about sharing revenue with local governments.  Additionally, there were disagreements over the need to pre-empt local authority to regulate and prohibit recreational marijuana businesses.  The bill also ran into significant concerns from the medical marijuana community over provisions establishing a patient registry as well as other regulatory requirements and the amount of tax credits for patients.  In the end, all of these obstacles prevented legislators for reaching agreement.

For cities, this means there is no change in the unregulated structure of medical marijuana nor is there any change to cities’ authority to regulate either medical or recreational marijuana.  It also means that the only revenue cities will see from recreational marijuana businesses is from the existing local sales tax and any applicable local B&O taxes.

We would like to thank everyone who helped on this effort during the session.  We truly appreciate all of the responses to our action alerts.  Despite the failure of the legislation, thanks to all of your calls and emails, many legislators expressed support for cities’ through the process.

We would also like to acknowledge the many legislators who worked on this issue during the session and helped advocate for cities including Sen. Ann Rivers (R-La Center), Rep. Cary Condotta (R-Wenatchee), Rep. Eileen Cody (D-Seattle), Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles (D-Seattle), Sen. Mark Mullet (D-Issaquah), Rep. Joel Kretz (R- Wauconda), Rep. Luis Moscoso (D-Bothell) and many others.

We will continue to work on this during the interim and anticipate that it will again be a significant issue in the 2015 session.