The Washington State Legislature’s 2020 regular session is proceeding, and we will be covering new bills as they develop. You can see Part 1 here.
Some Important Updates
SB 6393, the companion bill to HB 2361 that we discussed last week, passed out of the Senate Committee on Labor & Commerce by a 5-4 vote—split along party lines with Democrats in the majority—and has been referred to the Senate Ways & Means Committee. These bills would require all licensed cannabis businesses to implement certain labor requirements for their employees, which could include providing a living wage, offering benefits, or establishing an agreement with a union (there are other business practices that would count as well). Since Democrats control both the House and the Senate, there is a good chance that this bill will pass, but it still has a long way to go.
HB 1974 – Establishing the Washington cannabis commission
HB 1974 would create an agricultural commodity commission known as the Washington Cannabis Commission. Commissions are public entities overseen by the Washington Department of Agriculture, and they exist to promote the general welfare of specific agricultural commodities in the state, particularly with the sale and distribution of the respective commodity. The Wine Commission and Apple Commission are both examples of current commissions. Commissions levy an assessment upon all affected producers and use the funds collected to promote the industry, often with marketing and research. This assessment cannot exceed three percent under state law.
HB 1131 – Allowing residential marijuana agriculture
Prefiled alongside SB 5155 in the Senate, HB 1131 would allow persons 21 and over to grow up to six marijuana plants in their homes. The plants and their products made from those plants would be required to have the owner’s clearly labeled contact information, and they could only be used for noncommercial purposes. Landlords would be allowed to prohibit renters from growing marijuana on their premises.
The aforementioned bill is known as “homegrow” within the industry, and similar bills have been introduced nearly every year since 2015. This year is the first year that such a bill has been before the powerful Appropriations Committee, meaning this may be the year that homegrow advances to a legislative vote. Of the 11 states that have legalized marijuana for adult use, Washington is the only state that does not allow the personal cultivation of marijuana for nonmedical purposes. Current law does allow medical patients to grow marijuana, but they must register with the Department of Health.
HB 2826 – Clarifying the authority of the liquor and cannabis board to regulate marijuana vapor products
This bill comes in the wake of last year’s vaping crisis, some of which we covered here and here. The bill would codify the emergency rule enacted late last year defining “characterizing flavor” and provide the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (“WSLCB”) with broader rulemaking authority concerning marijuana vapor products. The WSLCB would be empowered to regulate devices “used in conjunction with a marijuana vapor product” and additives in marijuana products. However, its authority would have to be in conjunction with the Department of Health.
HB 2826 is an important bill because it will provide the WSLCB with broader authority to regulate marijuana products, both their ingredients and how they are made. The issue of what defined a “characterizing flavor” late last year affected the industry significantly, as many producers and processors add terpenes and other compounds to marijuana products. Furthermore, the House Appropriations Committee passed the bill unanimously and has been referred to the House Rules Committee for a second reading. If it passes that committee, there is a good chance that it will be heard on the house floor.