Washington state Liquor Control Board members signaled today they will recommend to lawmakers that medical-marijuana patients be allowed to continue growing pot in their homes.
Board members would allow qualified patients, or designated providers, to grow up to six plants, three flowering and three non-flowering. A formal recommendation, expected at next week’s board meeting, would reverse a proposal by staff at three state departments — Health, Revenue and the Liquor Control Board (LCB) – to outlaw home growing.
That proposal was the most controversial of those made by the staff. In public comments about the proposals, keeping home grows was the most common request, made by 362 people. Advocates said home growing would provide patients with more affordable marijuana and rare strains, believed to have therapeutic qualities, that they might not find in dispensaries or new recreational retail stores.
“We’re all in agreement on home grows,” said Sharon Foster, chair of the three-member board. Board members today discussed changes they’d like to see to staff proposals, but did not take formal action.
That will come next week, when members vote on recommendations due to the Legislature by Jan. 1. The hope is that lawmakers will reconcile the heavily taxed and regulated recreational system with the largely unregulated and untaxed medical system. If that is not done, state consultants have predicted the medical system would siphon customers from the new recreational system, and deter it from its goal of undercutting the illicit market.
Board members Foster, Ruthann Kurose and Chris Marr appeared to reach consensus on several other recommendations today.
They would require a patient registry, another proposal unpopular with patients because they fear a registry would be used for law-enforcement raids. All other states with medical marijuana have registries, although not all are mandatory.
They want the Department of Health, in consultation with medical stakeholders, to define “intractable pain,” a common condition for medical marijuana authorization that’s not now defined.
They would allow only those recreational retailers who obtain a state endorsement for medical marijuana to serve patients. State officials have not yet determined what the criteria will be for such an endorsement.
The board members left a proposed 25 percent tax on medical marijuana in place. Marr said tax-rate for medical marijuana was a decision best left to the Legislature and Department of Revenue.