Standing apart from virtually every other state that has legalized marijuana, Washington State’s lawmakers have consistently rejected proposed legislation that would allow residents to grow marijuana in their homes for personal use. House Bill 1019 (HB 1019) seeks to change that, as a renewed push for marijuana home cultivation begins to take root in the Washington State legislature.

The proposed bill would allow adults 21 years or older to grow up to six marijuana plants per person with no more than 15 plants present per household. The law would require all marijuana plants to be clearly marked with the name, date of birth, and address of the person who grew the plants, the date on which the plants were planted, and the date on which the plants were (or are to be) harvested. Further, landlords would be able to legally forbid the presence of marijuana plants in their rental properties. HB 1019 mirrors the home-grow provisions of neighboring states Oregon and California.

A History Of Failure

HB 1019 is not the first attempt at legalizing home cultivation in Washington. Similar bills were introduced in years past but they all failed to make it to a vote on the House floor. The ballot initiative that legalized marijuana in 2012 did not include a home cultivation provision, as lawmakers feared it would have a negative effect on getting the measure passed. Similarly, some recent states to legalize marijuana also left home cultivation on the cutting room floor, citing fears of the proliferation of the drug on the black market. Little evidence exists to support those concerns, though, as retailers in states where home growing is legal have seen record sales despite the ability of residents to grow their own cannabis.

HB 1019 Gains Momentum

Along with the support of several lawmakers who sponsored the bill, several other unlikely proponents have emerged in an effort to get the law passed. Fertilizer company, Scotts, has lobbied for the passage of the bill and has even gone to the lengths of funding a study that analyzed the predicted impact home grow laws would have on the marijuana retail sector. That study ultimately concluded that home cultivation would have little to no effect on legal recreational marijuana retail sales.

Additionally, social justice advocates have voiced their support of the bill, citing the disproportionate arrests and convictions of black residents for marijuana offenses in Washington State. These advocates argue that complete legalization should include the ability to home-grow, as this would further ameliorate the legal cannabis landscape and provide a cost effective avenue for those who simply want to legally grow marijuana in the privacy of their own home.

HB 1019 passed out of a legislative committee last month with bipartisan support and is scheduled for a hearing in the House Appropriations Committee.

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