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:
- Adult Cultivation and non-commercial sharing of the cannabis plant as a personal choice.
- Adults may cultivate up to six live cannabis plants in their home, but no more than 18 plants per single residence.
- “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.
- Any adult (over 21) may assist another adult in the growing and harvesting of cannabis plants for personal use.
- All adults (21 and over) may contract with licensed testing facilities for the personal product testing of family cannabis.
- Personal cannabis cultivation, processing or storage cannot be visible from a public place or private property of another housing unit.
- 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.
- Home extraction of resin from family cannabis must be in compliance with Washington State medical laws (RCW 69.50.450).
- 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Find Your Legislator’s direct email here: https://app.leg.wa.gov/memberemail/
Cover photo courtesy of Allie Beckett.