Washington State has long been considered on the forefront of cannabis law reform, and over the past several months, things have escalated. Washington voters approved Initiative 502 with a resounding, double-digit victory. Possession of an ounce of cannabis is no longer a criminal offense. Smoking in clear public display is simply a ticket. Hundreds are filling meetings ran by the Liquor Control Board to discuss how legal cannabis retail outlets are going to be regulated. The state’s largest city, Seattle, has well over 100 access points for medical cannabis.
For all intents and purposes, cannabis is the new state flower for Washington.
Even better, voters aren’t the only advocates for change; their legislature is filled with champion reformists. And it shows.
Washington State lawmakers are currently discussing three cannabis-related bills, all of which passed through their respective committees, two unanimously.
- House Bill 1661 would allow the thousands in the state who have a cannabis possession misdemeanor on their record to have it removed, instantly reopening a number of basic opportunities such as housing and student loans. The bill passed through its committee 6-5. It’s sponsored by 21 legislators, including a couple Republicans.
- House Bill 1888, filed by 5 Republicans and a Democrat, would fully legalize hemp in the state, raising the 0.3% THC standard set by Initiative 502 to 1% THC. The bill passed unanimously.
- Senate Bill 5528 would establish legal clarity to what the voters intended when the approved the state’s medical cannabis act in 1998, by establishing firm arrest protection for qualifying patients; currently qualified patients only have an “affirmative defense” protection. In a committee with 5 Republicans, this measure passed 9-0.
On top of the state’s legislature being cannabis friendly, the state’s newly elected governor and attorney general are working towards keeping the feds away from their attempts to implement legalization. If things in the state go as planned, state-licensed retail outlets will be selling cannabis to adults by next year. They’ll be able to legally sell cannabis food items, lotions, lip-balms, etc..
The state even has bars that are already allowing retail cannabis consumption, and making national news for it. Medical cannabis access points are opening outlets that are over 50,000 square feet, with the full intent of getting licensed to sell retail cannabis.
All of this put into consideration, it’s clear that Washington State is on its way to being the cannabis mecca of our nation. Some would argue that it already is.
Colorado residents, however, with their ability to legally grow up to 6 plants, and with a state constitutional amendment legalizing cannabis, might have a different argument to make.