On Friday morning, a reform to permit cannabis home-cultivation in Washington State passed its first legislative phase, advancing from the Gaming and House Commerce Committee with a 7-2 vote.
In 2012, Washington residents passed a marijuana decriminalization measure and retail sales commenced from mid-2014. Growing the crop for private purposes remains unlawful.
During Friday’s meeting, Representative Kloba Shelley, HB 2019’s main sponsor and House Committee’s chair said that Washington was among the first states to authorize cannabis, with understandable trepidation. Kloba added that the state has adopted a cautious approach on the home-grow issue and used other states as its control experiment.
From all the states that have started legalizing marijuana sales in recent years, Illinois is the only state that has illegalized homegrow. However, in Illinois, the home grow offence is treated as a civil infraction instead of a felony crime.
Washington’s home-cultivation reform would permit adults to grow six marijuana crops at their premise and use those crop’s produce as they see fit. Containers and plants with over one ounce of marijuana would have to be labelled with the adult’s address, birth date and name.
Although adults could share minor-levels of homegrown cannabis with each another, unauthorized sales would still be prohibited.
Cannabis plants would also be required to be hidden from plain sight and their smell should not go beyond the property. Farmers who go against those limits would attract a civil infraction that has $50 fine. Landlords would decide whether to let tenants to home grow cannabis on their property or not.
According to Kloba, the plant’s limits on being smelled or seen by the public protects the grower and neighbours through avoiding possible plant thefts and nuisance odour from neighbouring premises.
The reform’s proponents, such as Washington’s law enforcement department, have argued that home-cultivation limits will be challenging to enforce since it prevents police officers from entering a premise without obtaining a warrant.