Voters in Washington State Approve Bill To Legalize Marijuana Exports!
On Tuesday, a bill that would have let marijuana businesses in Washington state sell across state lines made it out of a House committee. The Senate equivalent passed out of committee last month. If the bill passes into law, the transfer of marijuana across state lines will be dependent on a change in federal policy, which could take the form of a law “to allow the interstate transfer of cannabis” between legal businesses or an opinion from the U.S.
Department of Justice “allowing or tolerating” such commerce. Washington’s proposal is similar to the ones adopted by California and Oregon. On the East Coast, a plan to legalize the sale of cannabis across state lines was introduced by New Jersey’s Senate president in 2017. Prior to Tuesday’s vote in the House Regulated Substances and Gaming Committee, the bill’s lead sponsor.
Democrat Rep. Sharon Wylie said that the legislation was an attempt to “mirror the efforts that are taking place in other recreational legal cannabis states” by laying the groundwork for interlocal agreements and interstate commerce should the federal government change the rules. On a party-line vote of 6-5, the committee endorsed HB 1159.
Rep. Kelly Chambers, the leading Republican on the panel, called the initiative “a massive undertaking” and said there were still uncertainties about how to coordinate interstate commerce with Washington’s licensing system.
Sponsor Wylie’s amendment to the measure mandating that any rules allowing interstate trade must be consistent with “plans and programs to remedy imbalances that remain from prior cannabis prohibition and drug enforcement legislation” was adopted by the legislature before the vote.
Once federal laws permit cross-border trading of cannabis, regulators are obligated to notify all marijuana firms and license applicants of the change in policy’s effective date. Chambers proposed an amendment that, once enacted, would have removed state regulations on cultivators’ marijuana production, but the panel rejected this idea.
Although Wylie voted against the amendment, he acknowledged that it “may very well be a good idea down the road” and suggested that it be added during the process of moving it through the system. Wylie argued that the current version of the measure provides a foundation for state firms to compete in a national marijuana market, while she did concede that it may need further modification in the current session and in the future.
She emphasized the importance of ensuring that healthy firms are able to maintain competitiveness and that law-abiding citizens are safeguarded. On the same day as the hearing, a measure (HB 1772) was approved that would make it illegal in the state to sell alcohol- and THC-infused products together. Alcoholic beverages containing federally banned substances are already prohibited by federal regulators.
Another bill, HB 1822, which would have permitted hosts of vacation rentals like Airbnb to supply guests over the age of 21 with minimal amounts of free alcoholic beverages and cannabis, was discussed at length during a public hearing but ultimately was not acted upon by the panel. The same committee is expected to vote later this week on a separate bill that would legalize marijuana home cultivation for adults in the state.
Home marijuana cultivation is illegal in all but a handful of states that have legalized the drug, but Washington is one of them. However, legislators have failed to enact many homegrown measures dating back to 2015. The upcoming legislative session in Washington is shaping up to be an eventful one for the state’s drug policy.
A new version of a bill to make psilocybin services lawful for adults was introduced in Congress earlier this year. Although a bill with fewer cosponsors was introduced and given a committee hearing last year, it did not pass. Initial committee votes have also been taken on bills that would provide job safeguards for adult marijuana users and increase social equity in the cannabis business.
Differently, in this session, state legislators are reevaluating drug possession punishments and other related topics. After the Supreme Court of the State of California struck down the state’s felony drug possession law in February 2021, politicians passed a temporary criminalization policy that will end on July 1. Some progressive legislators are pushing for the state to legally decriminalize possession, even though it is already considered a minor offense.
The Democratic governor, Jay Inslee, has expressed confidence that lawmakers can reach an agreement on a plan that will expand access to treatment and rehabilitation while keeping criminal penalties for possession. When asked about the possibility of legalizing heavy drugs, he stated his opposition. For people to enter treatment, “we need to have sufficient motivation.”