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After Several Failed Efforts, Washington Lawmakers Introduce New Bill To Legalize Home Marijuana Cultivation



Washington State lawmakers are again trying to allow adults in the state to grow their own marijuana, having introduced a new bill that would allow the cultivation of up to six plants at home.

Washington voters legalized marijuana through a ballot measure in 2012, but the law still makes it a felony for anyone but medical patients to grow the plant. And though several bills have been introduced to allow home cultivation over the years—stretching back to 2015—so far each has failed to find traction.

The latest bill, HB 2194, is an update to a homegrow proposal introduced last year, which passed out of one House committee before being pulled from consideration in a second committee. In addition to the six-plant-per-adult limit, it would cap the total number of plants grown by any one household at 15.

Notwithstanding the state’s personal possession limit of one ounce of marijuana flower, adults would also be able to keep the cannabis produced by their legal plants.

“I just see it as a fundamentally illogical thing that we’re doing,” lead sponsor Rep. Shelley Kloba (D) told Marijuana Moment. “We’ve made it criminal to grow a plant whose products you can walk into a retail store and purchase.”

She noted that beer and wine are also both legal, “and those things are legal to produce in your home as a hobbyist. It doesn’t make sense that you can’t do that with cannabis.”

Under Kloba’s plan, it would be a civil infraction for an individual to grow between six and 15 plants, while growing 16 or more plants would be a class C felony—the current penalty for growing any marijuana at home. The felony charge carries a maximum five years imprisonment and up to a $10,000 fine.

Kloba, who also introduced last year’s homegrow bill, HB 1614, told Marijuana Moment on Tuesday that while the older bill is still eligible to be taken up again this year, she wanted a fresh start.

“The goal is the same,” she said. “The mechanism is different than what we’ve done before, and the context in which we’re operating is different.”

The first legislative push for homegrow in Washington happened just months after the state’s launch of legal commercial sales, with then-Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles’s (D) sponsorship of SB 6083 in 2015. Subsequent homegrow bills were introduced by others in 2017, 2019, 2021 and 2023.

While some of those bills were revived the year following their introduction, during the state’s shorter, even-year legislative sessions, each stagnated and ultimately expired. Early on, Kloba said, many lawmakers were hesitant to allow home cultivation. “If you were growing a pot plant,” she said, “the assumption was you were manufacturing with intent to sell.”

More recently, Kloba said, lawmakers have had their hands full with COVID, economic development and—in terms of drug policy—responding to a state Supreme Court ruling that temporarily decriminalized drugs statewide.

“We took a lot of time and attention and care and really had to work through some conflicting issues,” she said of the state’s response to the court ruling. “Our choice was to lower the criminality on some things. And these are drugs that are illicit, you know, meth and heroin and coke and all of those. And poor little marijuana is sitting right over here, legal for you to buy in a store, legal for you to consume in your home, yet it is still illegal to possess it in plant form.”

“It’s just a new context,” she said.

While some have speculated that state officials or the licensed cannabis industry may be blocking home cultivation in order to maximize profit or state revenue—Washington has among the highest state tax rates on legal cannabis, at 37 percent—Kloba dismissed those explanations. “If it were a revenue thing, the industry itself would put up huge opposition” she said. “They don’t. They support it.”

Washington State University researchers have also concluded that allowing home beer brewing has been a boon to the commercial beer industry, Kloba said, undercutting worries that marijuana homegrow would hurt the market.

Kloba also sees homegrow as a social equity issue, noting that while overall marijuana arrests have gone down in Washington since legalization, “our cannabis arrests continue to be disproportionately people of color.”

That’s one of the reasons last year’s bill became controversial, she noted: Because it created all sorts of new violations meant to keep homegrow in check—violations that more progressive lawmakers worry law enforcement would again enforce disproportionately against people of color.

“We took out a lot of those things,” Kloba said, such as a previous requirement that exhaust air has to be treated so marijuana can’t be smelled from the street. “It just says, basically, it is now legal to have six plants.”

The new bill has four sponsors besides Kloba: Reps. Sharon Wylie, Beth Doglio, Roger Goodman and Nicole Macri, all of whom are Democrats. All but Macri also sponsored last year’s bill.

Most cannabis advocates in the state support home cultivation as an alternative option to for-profit sales, but lawmakers have shown little inclination to enact the policy change despite multiple opportunities. As more states have passed legalization laws with cultivation provisions, it’s become something of an inside joke how consistently Washington homegrow bills crash and burn.

“Lucy has once again yanked the football away from in front of Charlie Brown,” Don Skakie of Homegrow Washington quipped on social media last year after the last was pulled from consideration.

While organizers have considered trying to run a voter initiative to pass the change, Skakie has previously estimated that simply qualifying the measure for the ballot would cost around $350,000. “While I do believe enough people in Washington state would support it if given the opportunity to sign such an initiative,” he told Marijuana Moment in 2021, “I do not believe this issue would have that degree of unpaid volunteer support.”

Kloba, for her part, said she remains hopeful about the bill’s prospects.

“I’m an optimist, for one, and a little bit of a dog with a bone,” she said, adding that she’s also persistent. “I think the other part is, I mean, I hope I’m wearing them down!”

Another recently introduced cannabis bill in Washington would roll back recently enacted protections for job applicants who use marijuana, undoing the anti-discrimination protections for people seeking to work in the drug treatment industry.

Lawmakers have also introduced legislation to create a legal system to allow veterans and first responders to access psychedelic-assisted therapy. The measure would build on a limited pilot program signed into law last year.

The psychedelics legislation comes as grassroots efforts across the state seek to decriminalize entheogens at the local level by deprioritizing enforcement of state laws against the substances. Organizers in at least six Washington cities are working to enact the reform, which they also see as a way to build support for state-level change.

Late last year, the state Department of Commerce issued recommendations regarding how $200 million should be spent to address racial, economic and social disparities created by the war on drugs. The state has also approved $10 million in refunds for vacated drug convictions.

States Have Expunged Over 2.3 Million Marijuana Records Since 2018, NORML Report Shows

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Ben Adlin, a senior editor at Marijuana Moment, has been covering cannabis and other drug policy issues professionally since 2011. He was previously a senior news editor at Leafly, an associate editor at the Los Angeles Daily Journal and a Coro Fellow in Public Affairs. He lives in Washington State.


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