Washington Bill Would Legalize Home Cultivation of Marijuana, Further Thwart Federal Prohibition

OLYMPIA, Wash. (Feb. 1, 2017) – A bill introduced in the Washington state House would legalize cultivation of marijuana in a place of residence. Passage would build upon the already-existing legalization of marijuana in the Evergreen State, and further the thwarting of federal drug policy.

Rep. Sherry Appleton (D-Poulsbo) introduced House Bill 1092 (HB1092). The legislation would continue chipping away at the war on drugs by permitting the following:

"The possession by a person twenty-one years of age or older of no more than six marijuana plants and up to twenty-four ounces of useable marijuana harvested from lawfully grown plants is not a violation of this section, this chapter, or any other provision of Washington state law, provided:
(i) The plants are grown and possessed only within the premises of the housing unit in which the person resides; and
(ii) The useable marijuana has been harvested from plants lawfully grown within the premises of the housing unit in which the person resides and is not removed from the premises in amounts exceeding one ounce."

There would be additional restrictions on how much cannabis an individual can grow and possess in their domicile. Home harvesters would be capped at 12 marijuana plants and 48 ounces of useable marijuana allowed in a given household. The number of individuals living in the place of residence would not alleviate the restrictions.

“Washington has been fairly unique, in that it doesn’t allow for recreational home grow(ing); even Colorado, who legalized before Washington, allows for it. So in some ways it makes sense that we’re seeing this kind of legislation,” said Daniel Shortt, an attorney of the Seattle-based Harris Bricken law firm specializing in cannabis, said in a Seattle PI report.

Despite the federal prohibition on marijuana, measures such as HB1092 remain perfectly lawful, and the feds can do little if anything to stop them in practice.

LEGALITY

The federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) passed in 1970 prohibits all of this behavior. Of course, the federal government lacks any legal authority to ban or regulate marijuana within the borders of a state, despite the opinion of the politically connected lawyers on the Supreme Court. If you doubt this, ask yourself why it took a constitutional amendment to institute federal alcohol prohibition.

HB1092 would remove another layer of laws prohibiting the possession and use of marijuana, but federal prohibition will remain on the books.

FBI statistics show that law enforcement makes approximately 99 of 100 marijuana arrests under state, not federal law. By further eroding state prohibition, Washington state essentially sweeps away most of the basis for 99 percent of marijuana arrests.

Furthermore, figures indicate it would take 40 percent of the DEA’s yearly-budget just to investigate and raid all of the dispensaries in Los Angeles – a single city in a single state. That doesn’t include the cost of prosecution. The lesson? The feds lack the resources to enforce marijuana prohibition without state assistance.

“The lesson here is pretty straight forward. When enough people say, ‘No!’ to the federal government, and enough states pass laws backing those people up, there’s not much the feds can do to shove their so-called laws, regulations or mandates down our throats,” Tenth Amendment Center founder and executive director Michael Boldin said.

The expansion of the state’s medical marijuana law also demonstrates another important reality. Once a state puts laws in place legalizing marijuana, it tends to eventually expand. Once the state tears down some barriers, markets develop and demand expands. That creates pressure to further relax state law. HB1092 represents another step forward for patients seeking alternative treatments and a further erosion of deplorable federal marijuana prohibition.

WHAT’S NEXT?

HB1092 will need to pass the Commerce & Gaming Committee before it can be considered by the full House.