As many of us are waiting to see what happens in regard to the federal regulation of marijuana, the laws and rules governing the legal marijuana industry in Washington State continue to evolve. The 2017 legislative session has begun in Washington State and there are a number of bills proposed that would affect marijuana businesses.
Once again, out of state ownership of marijuana businesses is being proposed. SB 5102 and HB 1151 would allow out of state ownership of legal entities that hold marijuana licenses. Under these bills, only 50% of the ownership of partnerships, corporations, limited liability companies, etc. would have to meet the state’s 6 month residency requirement. Allowing out of state ownership could provide additional funding sources for cash strapped marijuana businesses.
A number of proposed bills would specifically affect licensed retailers. HB 1096 would remove the statewide cap on retail stores; and retailers would be able to sell apparel with the retail outlet’s name and logo per HB 1487. In what could be a blow to retailers, the use of bit coins as currency could be prohibited per SB 5264. The use of bit coins has been seen as one solution to the lack of bank access and without this option there doesn’t appear to be an alternative to being an all cash business.
As many in the industry are aware, finding a location for a licensed retail marijuana store can be very difficult due to resistance from local jurisdictions. Accordingly, HB 1099 seeks to prevent jurisdictions from imposing unofficial moratoria on retail stores. Pursuant to this bill, jurisdictions that refuse to allow licensed retail stores from locating within their city or county would forfeit 70% of the municipality’s share of the state’s Liquor Revolving Fund. Cities and counties would be able to avoid this forfeiture, by either adopting a formal moratorium on retail stores or by allowing the full number of retail outlets approved for operation within that jurisdiction by the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board.
Finally, home production of marijuana is proposed by HB 1092. This bill would allow anyone over the age of 21 to possess 6 marijuana plants. The residents of any single housing unit would collectively be able to possess up to 12 marijuana plants. Allowing personal growing of marijuana would bring Washington State in line with Colorado and other states that have legalized marijuana. But it could prove a headache for the state in terms of regulatory difficulty and diminished tax revenue.
These are only a few of the bills proposed to amend marijuana laws in Washington State. Stay tuned for more information on these and other legislative actions affecting the state’s legal marijuana industry.
For more information on the regulation of marijuana businesses in Washington State, please contact Heather Wolf.