Legislative Update: 10 Years of Legal Adult Recreational Cannabis in Washington

We’re approaching our 10th year of adult recreational cannabis being legal in Washington! After 10 years, the number of states that have legal recreational cannabis is now 21. Honoring our voters while the Federal prohibition remains is a challenge. As Co-Chair of the Regulated Substances and Gaming Committee, my focus will be to make sure our system cannabis regulatory system is fair to people following the rules, responsive to public safety, and responds to evolving research and knowledge. Cannabis differs from alcohol products in that for some, cannabis is serious medicine for very serious illnesses. We need to address medical uses appropriately. Very importantly, we must address the damage done to families and communities by the failed war on drugs. I want to make sure that our policies and laws make sense given these policy goals.

HB  1159 – This bill allows for the Governor to enter into an agreement with another state or state for the purposes of cross-jurisdictional enforcement and regulation of cannabis-related businesses when or if Federal laws change. Any agreement must ensure standard health and safety standards are met and include a system to regulate and track the delivery of cannabis and ensure that our legal businesses are treated fairly.

HB 1453 – This bill exempts qualifying medical patients and cannabis providers from the 37% excise tax currently in place. The patients who are most in need will now be able to save money when they purchase their medication which provides much needed relief from pain, nausea and other conditions. Our state does not tax medicine and needs to remove this tax.

HB 1650 – This bill would change our system to be the same as our liquor system, in that local jurisdictions may prohibit its sale and production with a popular vote. Currently, a city or county allows cannabis businesses to locate if local elected leaders choose to allow. New revenue from new retail outlets would support substance abuse disorder prevention and treatment services as well as research until July 2032. It has been 10 years and some communities may want to change how they treat cannabis.  A local election would take place after July 1, 2027, giving the leaders and communities time to decide and learn.

Other legislation that has been addressed in this committee includes legalization of limited home grows, prohibiting the sale of alcohol products containing cannabis, implementation of recommendations of the problem gambling task force and the work of the Cannabis task for and more.  Soon we will be hearing Senate bills on Cannabis, Alcohol, tobacco and gambling.

As always, government works best when I hear from the people I serve. Please don’t hesitate to reach out so we can continue to collaborate on the laws shaping the industry.

In Service,

Rep. Sharon Wylie