Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed a reform bill Friday that will completely change the structure and legality of the weed industry in the state, and not everyone is happy about it.
The major change brought on by the bill is that essentially the medical and recreational businesses will be combined into one system. This will ideally make it easier for strictly recreational businesses, some of which have said it’s hard to compete with medical collectives, which can sell greater quantities without sales tax. Some medical marijuana companies sell to consumers without doctors’ recommendations, undercutting the recreational weed business, according to The Stranger.
So that could be good news for existing shops. The law is also expected to reduce the number of licenses given out for marijuana sales across the board, and eliminate new businesses from qualifying entirely, which is not so great news for those looking to break in.
The big bummer of the bill, though, is for medical marijuana patients in Washington who cultivate their own plants. Currently, a patient with a doctor’s recommendation can grow up to 15 marijuana plants. The bill reduces that number down almost 75% to only 4 plants. If the patients volunteer to go on a state-monitored registry of marijuana growers, they can up their grow to 6 plants, still a huge reduction from the original number.
Another buzzkill for patients growing their own is that they’ll no longer be exempt from an excise tax which is actually higher than the state’s marijuana sales tax.
“I recognize the solution is not perfect,” said Governor Inslee. “However, I do think this is far better than today’s wholly unregulated system.”
There is no state in the country with a perfect marijuana policy. The goal should be to make it more practical to follow the law than to buy or sell weed off the grid. This reform bill sounds like one step forward, one step back in that direction.