Marijuana is legal for adults and is taxed and regulated similarly to alcohol; state also has a medical marijuana law
Last update: June 30, 2021
House committee approves legalizing home cultivation for adults, but bill dies in second committee
Washington State became one of the first two states to legalize adult-use cannabis in November 2012, when voters approved I-502. However, unlike the vast majority of states that have legalized cannabis, Washington continues to criminalize adults for discreetly growing a few plants at home.
Legislators made an effort to change this in 2021. Rep. Shelley Kloba has introduced HB 1019, a bill that would have legalized home cultivation of up to six plants per adult (no more than 15 plants per housing unit). The bill passed the House Commerce and Gaming Committee in a 7-2 vote on Friday, January 22, but it was referred to the Appropriations Committee and did not receive a vote.
State resists federal pressure, defends cannabis regulation program
In August 2017, then-U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions sent a series of letters to the governors of the first four legalization states, critical of their regulatory systems. Gov. Inslee was one such recipient, and like his peers in Oregon, Colorado, and Alaska, he was skeptical of the federal government’s dim assessment of state efforts. In response to the Department of Justice letter, Gov. Inslee called out the letter as based on outdated and incorrect information. Former Attorney General Sessions’ letter is available online here, along with Gov. Inslee’s response.
Officials have good reason to be supportive. Not only does it bring in revenue, Washington issued a report finding that neither the use of cannabis by those underage, nor cannabis-related abuse treatment admissions, increased after the state’s legalization of cannabis for adults. Quite simply, the sky hasn’t fallen in Washington, and there are no signs that it will. For a closer look at the law as it currently stands, be sure to check out the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board’s detailed FAQ, available here.
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Fifteen states have now legalized cannabis for adults’ use, and Washington is one of only three that does not yet allow home cultivation. Fortunately, a new bill has been introduced in Olympia that would legalize home cultivation of up to six plants per adult and 15 per household.