Washington Legislature

When this year’s session opened, there were hundreds of bills left over from last year, including a couple dozen dealing with marijuana. With the laws and regulations on retail pot not even three years old yet, one could expect there would be many opportunities for modifications and additions to something so new.

They did manage to deal with 20 items late last Friday, the last day of this year’s session. The remainder, including some of the most discussed, they pushed into the next session.

I watched closely to see what the local reporters would come up with for the headline on the bill that passed. Nothing appeared, likely because they couldn’t describe it in an interesting way.

“Bureaucratic Pot Laws and Rules Tweaked”. A few highlights might be the LCB is now required to notify Indian tribes before they issue a license on tribal land; allow retail shop owners to have a stake in 5, not just 3, stores; legalize sharing marijuana (ie, passing the pipe); cut the WA Dept of Ag into the action on edibles, and define organic standards; add some fees and costs to the licensees; and then, screw around with the advertising restrictions.

There almost isn’t anything I detest more than advertising run amok. What I really detest is the state restricting free speech, no matter the message, size, or place. Taken to the logical end, my ideal would lead to laser shows advertising Pepsi on the walls of the Grand Canyon.

While I have to admit the pot billboards are quite obvious in Oregon and Washington, I’ve seen many in the US for alcohol, paid sex, and those yucky pro-life ads you see in the South. When laws are attempted at restricting advertising, they always include a long list of exceptions. No sandwich signs allowed except for Sunday church services. It takes a few minutes for the lawyers to get the “except for” clause stricken in court, then they can delete the “No”.

Put another way, the more they try to write clarifying legislation, the more loopholes they open, and the more folk can exploit the vagaries. I’m fairly happy this law passed as it imposes yet more exceptions to the billboard rules, and confuses the issue with regard to other forms. It’s good because it’s bad.

I wish I was there when the situation came up that prompted the part on notifying Indians. It had to have happened fairly early, when licenses were being doled out by county. One of those addresses was on tribal land, and there are tribes that have an intense aversion to cannabis. Oops. There’s a law now that says the Liquor and Cannabis Board can’t do that on sovereign lands.

“Boring Bill Passes Legislature”

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