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Washington Governor Signs Law Exempting Medical Marijuana Patients From Paying Tax On Specified Products



Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) has signed legislation into law to exempt registered medical marijuana patients from the state’s 37 percent cannabis excise tax, which is currently one of the highest in the country. The exemption will only apply, however, to products that have been certified to higher testing standards than typical state-legal products.

HB 1453, which lawmakers sent to the governor earlier this month, would allow registered patients and caregivers to avoid the tax when purchasing products that are compliant with Department of Health (DOH) testing standards. Medical marijuana cardholders already are eligible for exemptions from sales and use taxes on cannabis, but they are not currently exempt from the state excise tax.

The tax exemption would apply only to products that are DOH-compliant, meaning the products have been tested more rigorously for safety. While manufacturers in the state are required to submit all medical and adult-use products to labs for testing, producers can voluntarily have additional testing done—to screen for heavy metals, for example—that isn’t otherwise required. Marijuana that passes the additional testing can be labeled with a DOH-developed logo.

“This bill will lead to a wider variety of DOH-compliant cannabis products on the market available to qualifying patients and designated providers, will improve program participation, and will help ease suffering,” a legislative staff summary of public testimony in support of the legislation says.

Provisions of the new law, sponsored by Rep. Sharon Wylie (D) and two other Democrats, are set to expire on June 30, 2029. A report by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee on the tax impacts of the change would be due in 2028.

One of the bill’s co-sponsors, Rep. Shelley Kloba (D) also sponsored a cannabis homegrow bill this session—the latest in a series of such measures introduced over the past several years—but the proposal ultimately died in committee. If passed, HB 2194 would have allowed adults 21 and older to grow up to four plants per person, with no more than 10 allowed per household. Home cultivation of marijuana without a medical marijuana card remains a felony in the state.

Kloba told Marijuana Moment last month that she’s committed to continued advocacy for the policy change and plans to introduce yet another homegrow measure next year.

“I am committed to this issue, and plan to run a bill again next session,” she said. “Every session has its own character and constraints, which so far have meant that the bill has not advanced to the Senate. But I am not giving up.”

Washington voters legalized marijuana for adult use through a ballot measure in 2012.

Marijuana Moment is tracking more than 1,000 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

Learn more about our marijuana bill tracker and become a supporter on Patreon to get access.

Separately, lawmakers this session also sent the governor a measure from Rep. Lauren Davis (D) that originally would have limited THC potency in retail marijuana products. That provision was removed, however, and as passed by the legislature, it instead would require cannabis retailers to warn of the possible health risks of high-THC products. It would become null and void if not funded by lawmakers in separate legislation.

Another cannabis bill introduced in Washington this session would have rolled 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. It did not receive committee consideration in time to advance, however.

Lawmakers 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, but it also did not advanced after being filed.

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.

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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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