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Published on Friday, January 10, 2014

Marijuana legislation introduced

Two key marijuana policy bills have been introduced at the beginning of the 2014 session.

Medical marijuana changes

The first is HB 2149 by Representative Cody (D-Seattle), Chair of the House Health Care & Wellness Committee. HB 2149 addresses many of the recommendations of the Liquor Control Board (LCB) work group on medical marijuana. HB 2149 makes a number of changes to medical marijuana laws including the following:

  • Repeals authorization for collective gardens effective May 1, 2015
  • Aligns certain definitions with those in I-502 (RCW 69.50)
  • Further defines “intractable pain”
  • Establishes a patient/provider registry (state issued recognition card system) effective May 1, 2015
  • Reduces the amount of useable marijuana a patient may possess from 24 ounces to three ounces with a recognition card
  • Reduces the number of plants a patient may possess from 15 to six (three flowering, three nonflowering) with a recognition card
  • Establishes a provision allowing the LCB to issue medical marijuana endorsements to state licensed marijuana retailers to enable them to sell the higher amounts of marijuana to qualifying patients and designated providers in the registry effective May 1, 2015
  • Repeals RCW 69.51A.140, clarifying cities authority to adopted and enforce local zoning and other regulations for medical marijuana operations.

AWC is advocating for the reconciliation of the medical and recreational marijuana systems, and believes that this legislation takes the state in the right direction in addressing cities’ concerns with the un-regulated medical marijuana market.

HB 2149 will be heard by the House Health Care & Wellness Committee Wednesday, January 15 at 8am.

Marijuana revenue sharing

Also introduced during the pre-filing period is HB 2144 by Rep. Condotta (R-Wenatchee). HB 2144 would share a portion of the revenue from recreational marijuana sales with local governments. It allows local governments to retain 30 percent of the final 25 percent tax charged at the point of sale within the jurisdiction where the sale is made. AWC’s priority this year is to secure a share of the recreational marijuana revenue for local governments and we are pleased to see this bill introduced. We will be working with the prime sponsor to address concerns that the bill may not share a significant enough portion of revenue to address increase impacts to cities. The bill has not yet been scheduled for a hearing.

Attorney General Opinion requested on city’s authority over recreational marijuana businesses

This fall the Liquor Control Board requested an opinion from the Attorney General on the scope of city and county authority over recreational marijuana businesses. The opinion has not yet been released, but we anticipate that it may be coming out in the next few weeks.

The questions posed by the LCB are:

  1. Are local governments preempted by state law from outright banning the location of a WSLCB licensed marijuana producer, processor, or retailer within their jurisdiction?
  2. May a local government establish land use regulations (in excess of the I-502 buffer and other WSLCB requirements) or business license requirements in a fashion that makes it impractical for a licensed marijuana business to locate within their jurisdiction?