In the continuing celebration over the legalization of cannabis in Washington State, there’s one little detail that escapes most people’s notice: of all the states that allow recreational cannabis, Washington is the only one that prohibits growing cannabis indoors for individuals.
It remains to be seen what sort of fallout will come from a recent announcement of a crackdown from Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Still, there’s some hope that Washington State will amend its policy towards home growers.
The right to grow your own marijuana has been enshrined in cannabis culture from its very earliest days. At its roots—no pun intended—cannabis is, of course, merely a plant; a completely natural product requiring minimal processing to be medically or recreationally viable.
Now it seems that’s all up in the air…or is it? While many observers agree that federal decriminalization is only a matter of time, it’s impossible to predict whether that’s a short-term, middle-term, or long-term forecast. And that uncertainty has much to do with why Washington finds itself the only cannabis-legal state that prohibits its citizens from growing cannabis indoors. How did we come to this state of affairs, and—more importantly—is there real hope this will change anytime soon?
The Cole Memo: A Shaky Foundation for a Legal-Weed America
In considering whether or not to decriminalize at all, most states referred to the Cole Memo, a 2013 document outlining a cautious, legally nuanced approach for states to determine their destiny when it comes to cannabis.
Now the Attorney General has officially abandoned the Cole Memo. Still, no one is certain what that will mean for cannabis-legal states.
The Cole Memo was really just a tentative first step in the legalization process. As we’re seeing under the current administration, it offers states no real protection against a federal crackdown, which Sessions has promised more than once before.
So when it came time to ponder decriminalizing cannabis, Washington State went over and above the memo, being the only legal-weed state to prohibit private citizens from growing cannabis indoors (under the more recent SB 5131, there is an exception for medical marijuana patients to grow a limited amount for personal use.)
That’s a major frustration for budding home growers, but hope appeared in the form of a State-mandated recommendation by the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) which hit lawmakers’ desks late in 2017.
The LCB Report: No Green Light for Growing Cannabis Indoors
Sadly, any short-term hope experienced by those itching to grow cannabis indoors went largely up in smoke with the Dec. 1 report. While it didn’t flat-out recommend continuing the ban on home growing, maintaining the status quo emerged as one of two strong options, the other being a strict framework of state regulation including permitting and the same rigorous traceability provisions commercial operations such as Have a Heart are required to use. (A middle-ground LCB recommendation providing looser oversight appears to be a rather distant third choice.)
Of course, the final say-so lies with state lawmakers, who began the 2018 legislative session in early January. However, given both the tone of the Cole Memo and the Attorney General’s stance on cannabis, the grow ban will likely remain in effect.
We’ll be keeping our ear to the ground in the months ahead, and continuing to report on the cannabis-related issues that matter most to you. In the meantime, we urge you to contact your representatives directly and let them know your concerns regarding this important issue. While we’re proud to supply you with the best cannabis we can possibly provide, we also believe that citizens of the Evergreen State should have the right to determine where and how they get cannabis, whether it’s from our clean, well-lit dispensary or from the comfort of their own gardens.