Washington State’s Fight for Home Cultivation

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Rainbow over a Pacific Northwest Garden. Photo courtesy of Allie Beckett.

Rainbow over a Pacific Northwest Garden. Photo courtesy of Allie Beckett.

It comes as a surprise to many, even those living in Washington, that while cannabis is legal throughout the Evergreen State, home cultivation — even on a very small scale — remains illegal.

When Washington citizens voted to legalize the adult-use of recreational marijuana, most believed this would liberate the plant. Many were under the impression that citizens would have more natural freedoms with cannabis — that smoking a joint in a park with your friends would be as legal as growing a couple cannabis plants in your summer garden, but in fact, neither of those are true. Public consumption is a big no-no, and growing house plants could still warrant some jail time.

Surprisingly, Washington is the only legal cannabis state that does not allow personal home cultivation. Every other state that has passed recreational adult-use marijuana laws include the right to home cultivation. Each state varies in plant counts but the national average is about 4-6 plants per person. Even our federal capital of Washington D.C. allows its citizens to grow personal cannabis plants in their residence, how’s that for irony?

But for some reason, Washington State omitted home growing from the I-502 legislature. A group of passionate Washingtonians are fighting to change that during this legislative session, and they’re are welcoming you to join their crusade.

Washingtonians were told that the intent was to regulate cannabis like alcohol. Adults are allowed to brew beer and wine at home, therefore they should be allowed to grow their own cannabis at home.
– Washington State Cannabis Home Grow and Sharing Act

The newly proposed amendment is known as the Washington State Cannabis Home Grow and Sharing Act. The act emphasizes in its introduction that Washington State citizens voted yes on I-502, legalizing recreational marijuana, with the belief that law enforcement resources would be focused on addressing serious violent crimes rather than enforcing what many consider to be futile marijuana laws.

Writers of the Home Grow and Sharing Act believe, “the only way to eliminate the illicit criminal market of cannabis is by allowing adults to grow and share with other adults, along with the ability to buy it from state stores, without fear of arrest, prosecution and property forfeiture.”

The Washington State Cannabis Home Grow and Sharing Act declares the action of these amendments:

  1. Adult Cultivation and non-commercial sharing of the cannabis plant as a personal choice.
  2. Adults may cultivate up to six live cannabis plants in their home, but no more than 18 plants per single residence.
  3. Family cannabis,” as it is called in the amendment, is cannabis that has been grown in the home for private consumption — homegrown cannabis cannot be commercially sold.
  4. Any adult (over 21) may assist another adult in the growing and harvesting of cannabis plants for personal use.
  5. All adults (21 and over) may contract with licensed testing facilities for the personal product testing of family cannabis.
  6. Personal cannabis cultivation, processing or storage cannot be visible from a public place or private property of another housing unit.
  7. The possession of family cannabis shall not result in the forfeiture of real property unless the cannabis is possessed for commercial purposes that are unlawful under Washington State law and/or the amount possessed is over nineteen plants at one residential location.
  8. Home extraction of resin from family cannabis must be in compliance with Washington State medical laws (RCW 69.50.450).
  9. Cities, towns, counties, and other municipalities may create and enforce civil penalties, including abatement procedures for growing or possessing cannabis, not in compliance with the law.

Washington State legislators have been faced with home growing amendments before and have continually denied them. Many supporters of personal cultivation suspect that legislators fear taking away business from state-licensed retail stores. However, legalizing the ability to grow “family cannabis” could allow retailers to expand their inventories, to begin selling clones, seeds, and growing equipment.

It’s been proven in Colorado that home cultivation does not erode recreational store sales. Before recreational passed in Washington, the state had a thriving medical marijuana industry which allowed home cultivation. Medical dispensaries embraced the right to grow at home and earned great revenue selling live plants.

People interested in joining the fight for Washington home grows should reach out to the state legislators:

Legislative Toll-Free Hotline:  1-800-562-6000

Legislative Contact Email: support@leg.wa.gov

Find Your Legislator’s direct email here: http://app.leg.wa.gov/memberemail/

Cover photo courtesy of Allie Beckett.

So You Want to be a Cannabis Activist? Here’s How to Get Started…

About Author

Allie is a NW-based content curator for Marijuana.com and an organic farmer at TKO Reserve. She has been a professional in the marijuana industry since she was 18 years old, spending the first five years of her career working for Dope Magazine as lead photographer. Allie has worked on mainstream projects such as Idiot's Guide: Growing Marijuana, Branding Bud: The Consumerization of Cannabis and her own self-published book, As The Grass Grows.

8 Comments

  1. As one of the writers, I thank you for the mention. As no Legislaror would file the language as a legislative bill, John Novak and I filed it as an initiative to the legislature in November for a possible filing on March 8, 2017 to run as an initiative to the 2018 November ballot.

    Representative Appleton is supposed to be filing a Homegrow Bill on Monday. She was given the language, along with bullet points from a group of activist, to pass along to her drafters. We’ll see what she comes out with.

    As an initiative, added to the Homegrow language is amensity for crimes now legal in Washington; allowing for cannabis businesses/lounges; preventing federal funds from being used for enforcment of what is legal in this state; directs the National Guard to remove cannabis from its list of priorities in Washington; and directs the Attorney General to vigorously define the Act.

    It was assigned I-887 (https://www.sos.wa.gov//_assets/elections/initiatives/FinalText_1177.pdf). If Olympia has not passed a Homegrow Bill by filing for the 2018 ballot, it will be refiled getting a new number with the summary probably staying the same. Would have until December 29th at 5pm to get 259,622 registered voters signatures to qualify.

  2. Oliver Steinberg on

    Kirk Ludden, good luck on this. As Robert La Follette, who understood a lot about the politics of reform, pointed out in 1912, the special interests who oppose reforms, when they cannot prevent some kind of progressive legislation, often resort to undermining or sabotaging the reform by presenting what they claim is the reform in a “half loaf” or “compromise” version—a version really designed to discredit the reform or to so weaken it as to leave the public confused and disappointed. Promoters of “legalization” without home cultivation may have been well intentioned, but they didn’t understand that the most basic and fundamental element of this reform is to re-establish the right of citizens to cultivate their own gardens. Along with the right of home growing the other essential element ought to be the complete erasure and expungement of all past criminal records for any marijuana offenses. This racist-inspired and racist-administered prohibition law was never anything but the last vestige of the old Jim Crow and the main vector of the New Jim Crow. How telling that even in a state where legal medical use was passed nearly a decade ago, and legal personal possession and use four years ago–by powerful majorities of the popular vote–the professional politicians still genuflect to the prohibitionist special interests and the specter of reefer madness. It’s time to target and defeat as many of those false-hearted legislators as you can, in the next elections. At least run right at them and make an issue of their cowardice.

    • We are the only state that has recreational cannabis and NO HOME GROWS. To eliminate the illicit criminal market, people must be able to grow, but and share. The #reefermadness must stop, and I won’t stop fight until it does.

  3. Hi,
    I’m a Marine Corps Veteran with 14 years of service. I live in New Jersey where Governor Christie finally added PTSD to the list of qualifying conditions for Medicinal Cannabis. Unfortunately, I can’t afford to see a private doctor to get the MMJ card. Obviously my shrink at the VA, whose name happens to be dr. Seuss, can’t do anything for me in that regard. So for now I’m on a cocktail of anti-depressants, anti-psychotics and anxiety pills for paranoia. When I finally do get the card I get to fill out a bunch of paperwork for the state. Then, at their own pace they will review my application and either approve or deny it and return it to me. If it’s approved it will include a total amount due to be paid
    asap so I can begin Stalking the mailman like Ralphie waiting for his Little Orphan Annie decoder ring. If it’s denied, it will tell me why they denied it, which questions I got wrong, how to answer them correctly and return it to them with the magical amount I owe. For some reason that sum cannot be calculated until the very end. ( we can’t know what’s in the bill until we pass it)
    My favorite part is even after I’ve jumped through all their hoops, I still can’t grow my own plants. You know, I was discharged just under two years ago and I’m about to hang myself with all these veterans ‘benefits’. Of course I could be mistaken, this might be the white privilege I keep hearing about.
    We never ask for special treatment. I wouldn’t accept it if it was offered. I never consumed or equipped anything I didn’t earn.
    My Cav troop 1/102A, was activated for Hurricanes Irene and Sandy. About 2 weeks into Sandy I got a call my dog was dead. She was my world. But damnit, you know, Mission first. And that’s fine but to be treated like this really gets my knickers in a twist.
    I don’t mention cannabis to anyone because they inevitably roll their eyes or smirk and look at us like ‘you just want to get high’. I can get high, dizzle! I want my brain back! I would eat cow manure and wash it down with Buffalo urine if it would stop the flashbacks, night terrors and “Active shooter drills.” Hell, I haven’t showered in 3 years. I don’t get it.
    My wife is losing her battle with stage IV breast cancer. They expect her to move on any day now. She’s a Marine too. Prettiest damn Devil Dog you’ll never see.
    Thanks so much for listening. Happy new year. Semper Fishing

    Respectfully,
    Joshua R. Meehan
    6672 USMC – – 19D Cav Scout NJARNG

  4. all interesting comments as I understand it Wash state has the highest taxes on rec cannabis compared to the other venues / therefore they of course want to prevent other options for people / a shame that gov’t once again works against rather than for the people

  5. For all who agree with the article I urge you to contact your legislators and let them all know that this is a popular movement that needs to be normalized once and for all. It should be looked upon as a civil liberties issue that even Republicans should agree with on that level. If it is “legal”, why is it not decriminalized? Spread to word.

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