Home Grows May Finally Happen in Washington
OLYMPIA — All states that have legalized recreational marijuana also allow people to grow plants for personal use at home, except for one. Washington is the only state to ban people from growing marijuana in their homes. That may change after a three-person panel from the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board heard from pot consumers, sellers, and cultivators at a hearing on Wednesday.
The state legislature directed the board to study different scenarios for allowing home-grows. More than 30 people testified at the hearing, including several medical marijuana patients who said that they should be able to grow their own medicine at home because cannabis is legal. Marijuana has been legal in Washington since 2012 for adults 21 and over.
Other testimony included letters and emails from people who are against people growing marijuana at home, stating that the current ban protects the public. They believe that home-grown weed should be banned.
One colorful analogy from a home-grow supporter who doesn’t consume pot said that it “seems silly to have legalized selling it but not being able to grow some at home. It’s just a plant. This is like legalizing tomatoes at the store but not allowing them to be grown at home. Please legalize!” wrote Joel Colvos. Good point.
Most of the people who testified in favor of home-grows said they also are against the scenarios being considered because of too many restrictions that gives local counties the power to ban home-grows regardless of state laws because of the Cole memo.
The Department of Justice issued the Cole memo in 2013, which frames the federal government’s policy on enforcing federal law in legal marijuana states. The memo requires strict guidelines tracking marijuana from cultivation to sale. The idea is to avert illegal distribution. The panel must decide if they can legalize home-grows without conflicting with the terms in the Cole memo.
There are three scenarios being considered. The first would allow people with permits to grow up to four marijuana plants at home. It would be regulated exactly like large cultivation operations and has the power to seize plants from people with more than four.
The second scenario also allows people to grow four marijuana plants but would not require enrollment in a state tracking system. It would, however, let local counties regulate home-grows, which could include bans on home-grows all together.
Scenario number three allows home-grows for medical marijuana patients only. The panel has until December 1 to reach a decision.
Niko is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. She enjoys writing about activism, social justice, politics, education, marketing, and comedy.