What are the Latest Developments with Marijuana in Washington State?

As always, this office must preface this topic with a fact. Washington State is in the United States of America. The Federal Government has jurisdiction here. THEREFORE, marijuana is still highly illegal in this state. Think it’s not? Tell that to DEA storm troopers after a raid. See what kind of success that argument yields.

I-502 has passed. The Liquor Control Board got a blessing with a new lease on life, and the government is in full control. Or are they? Not as much as they’d like, and they’re worried.

With 502 came the future establishment of retail marijuana stores and proposed heavy taxes on every aspect of production. The growers, under strict guidelines and regulations, are to be taxed at the rate of 25%. Think that’s a lot? We’ve just begun. The distributors, under strict guidelines and regulations, are to be taxed at the rate of 25%. The retailers, under strict guidelines and regulations, are to be taxed at the rate of 25%. One can only speculate at this time, but that could put the selling price at the register over $500 an ounce to the consumer. It goes without saying that the State and the administrative agencies in charge of this thing would be thrilled if that was the end of the story, but it’s not.

There is a massive network of Medical Marijuana patients and Designated Providers since the ’98 medical act that have been exponentially growing stronger utilizing the already existing Medical Marijuana dispensaries in a quasi-legal fashion. Under this Med Act, these people are allowed to have a ’60 day supply.’ This somehow translated to a legal possession of 24 ounces on their person, as well as 15 plants that could be growing at a time. The documentation requirements for some of this is very simple, and likely thousands of Designated Providers are virtually operating in a kind of ‘black market’ fully unregulated. They have been producing massive amounts of some of the best marijuana in the world as if they were ghosts in the night. Can you predict what is coming next?

Multiple bills have been submitted in Olympia to crush this and allow more government monopoly on the market. This office has glanced over these bills, and some of the proposed changes include the decrease from 24 ounces on person to 8 ounces on person for documented medical patients/caregivers. Further, a reduction from 15 plants at a time to 10, of which 3 may be flowering at any given time is another proposed change. This is a law office, not an accounting office, but it would appear that if signed into law this would decrease the growth output of the medical community by 80% on flowering plants at any given time. In addition to these proposed changes, highly detailed and regulated lists of all participants would be mandatory and kept on file.

Some colleagues in the field believe I-502 will fail on its own. Others believe there is a long war on the horizon between the Medical Marijuana black market and the State run retail system. At this point, time will tell.

Featured photo credit Wikipedia Commons, labeled for commercial reuse.

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