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Published on Friday, April 10, 2015

Marijuana bills pass House

Friday evening, April 10, the House passed two key marijuana related bills, 2SSB 5052 and 2SHB 2136, after two hours of debate and consideration of amendments.

2SSB 5052 passed with 60 “yes” votes. There were amendments accepted but nothing that impact cities’ main concerns about regulating the medical marijuana market in line with the recreational market. They didn't further change the voluntary patient database although an amendment to do so was subject to a lengthy and sometimes emotional debate, but ultimately was not adopted. The bill sponsor, Sen. Ann Rivers (R-La Center), has indicated she believes the Senate should concur with the bill as soon as possible and send it to the Governor for signature.

2SSB 2136 also passed with 67 “yes” votes. The bill was amended with impacts to cities. First, an amendment by Rep. Reykdal (D-Olympia) was adopted that removes the 2022 sunset for revenue sharing. This means that under this bill, revenue sharing will continue without an expiration date. A second amendment by Rep. Condotta (R-Wenatchee) was adopted revising the model for how funding is distributed to cities and counties. Under the new model, only jurisdictions with retailers will receive funding until the State General Fund reaches a threshold of $25 million in excise tax revenue, then the model with switch to one where all jurisdictions except those which ban will receive a portion of the funding.

Finally, and disappointingly, they approved an amendment preempting local authority by requiring a public vote prior to enacting a ban. The amendment by Rep. Sawyer (D-Lakewood) was approved on a questionable voice vote where the Speaker failed to call for “No” votes before banging the gavel and declaring the amendment passed. However, from the gallery it sounded like the “No” votes would have prevailed. Despite quite a bit of conferring on the floor of the House, the vote stood. We would like to thank Reps. Reykdal, Taylor and Stokesbary for speaking out in support of local control.

2SSB 2136 now goes to the Senate for consideration. We hope we can further refine the bill during that process and will seek to remove the pre-emption added by the House.

Please continue to reach out to your Senator and share the message of why your city needs revenue and what the impact of marijuana is on your community. Ask them to support providing 10% of the total marijuana excise tax revenue with local governments and ask them to support local authority to regulate marijuana businesses.

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