WA Pot Laws

We’re coming up on the fifth anniversary of legal cannabis sales in Washington state. I recall when the rules were being written, completely out of whole cloth given there was no experience, how many times the regulators and lawmakers wished they had some data, some numbers, anything concrete to help with setting the rules. How many customers? How many stores? How much to grow? What’s the right tax? If only we had five years of data back then.

As you can imagine, the products developed this way without benefit of real experience likely are a little weak and wobbly, full of errors and holes. Which describes Washington’s laws fairly well, I think. But somehow we’ve limped along, though without much attention from the lawmakers. Every year I look forward to the many positive things the legislature could change, and every year I’m let down by their inaction.

WA still does not allow home grows, making us unique in the nation. Although, as Illinois debates their law they seem to be considering having a ban as well.

The legislature loosened up the license ownership rules a tad bit, though I doubt anyone will notice much. The idea is to keep out-of-state moneyed interests out of the game here, and that’s working, but now grandma living in Phoenix can chip in a few thousand to buy some seed or even help make payroll.

One of the old ideas was testing for purity and wholesomeness which was very weak, but a law was passed to improve things, to make the state’s laws more in line with other states. This is one of those laws that “appoint a committee to investigate and recommend…” which means nothing changes until some reports are filed in a couple of years. Better than nothing, I guess.

The legislature came down hard on the Cannabis Board for being far too stringent in enforcement and punishment of licensees, and held back several laws that would be hammers if the board doesn’t lighten up a bit before next session.

Even after five years we’re discovering new things and inventing new ideas, but that’s difficult if the state is hassling business people with trivial rules and enforcement actions. It pisses folk off when they are fined for breaking a rule that even the board can’t explain. That kind of stuff is still happening after five years, which should be expected I guess.

Some writers are referring to the WA’s cannabis environment as “mature”. Compared to other states, I guess that’s true. But there’s still a lot to do.

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