Washington Bud Company
Smokey Point, WA
Washington’s legislative session will be virtual this year due to the coronavirus. Technology, when it works, will make it super easy for citizens to “attend” legislative sessions this year and likely into the future. It’s not a bad thing to get more voters engaged in the law-making process.
Washington state legislative committee chairs reached out to advocacy groups back in September 2020 to explain that each legislator is encouraged to limit their bills this year and focus mainly on COVID relief and the economy. There are only four cannabis-centric bills I am aware of that will be presented this session: home-grow, 37% tax repeal for patient purchases, craft cannabis and the Washington state cannabis commission bill. These are topics that a dedicated group of us have been advocating on for years.
Home-grow is a no brainer. I don’t think allowing home-grown cannabis will be a threat to us commercial growers. A dedicated person can successfully brew their own beer or ferment their own wine at home, yet commercial alcohol industry is robust. It’s the same with cannabis. Many may try and most will realize the time and cost to grow is not worth the trouble. The selection and price points at the cannabis stores are too enticing to bother. Yet, those that do grow their own should not be considered criminals!
The repeal of the 37% excise tax on patient purchases is also the right thing to do. This one will be the heaviest lift to get through both House and Senate as it carries a fiscal note, albeit with estimates coming in at less than $50,000 annually. Repealing this burdensome tax will coax more patients to register and get their cannabis in legally licensed stores, eventually increasing the demand for products they rely upon.
The craft cannabis bill is newer on the scene and comes from the desire to move away from Washington’s arbitrary tier system to one that rewards those that want to remain small, boutique growers. It adds a unique set of privileges, like selling direct to consumers (think of a winery model). It will bolster tourism through farm tours, attract patient populations that want to get to know their cannabis farmer and further enhance the craft brands in the retail locations they serve. A “craft” designation will better secure the future of the hundreds of us family cannabis farmers in Washington.
I have written before about the need to form a cannabis commission. Commissions are self-funded agencies designated to help the cultivators of a crop, and there is no crop in more need of research than cannabis. Farmers of other crops can rely on government education programs, like using university staff and laboratories, to figure out solutions to their farming challenges, but cannabis is excluded from that scientific help.
This virtual session will likely smooth the path to passing these bills as there won’t be a lot of noise from competing bills drawing focus away. I anticipate 2021 to be a turning point for how citizens engage in our governments. The chaos that “45” created may end up being good for our country as we now are aware of how wrong things can go and paying better attention to how our elected leaders govern.