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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Should Washington Allow Home Grows Of Recreational Pot?

File photo of indoor cannabis plants. Washington state does not allow home grows.

Washington is the only state with legal marijuana that doesn’t allow home grows. There have been unsuccessful efforts to change that in recent years. Now the state’s Liquor and Cannabis Board is taking public comment on the issue through October 11.

?Earlier this year lawmakers told the Board to study the options and report back. ?

The Board has come up with three options.

  •  Allow four plants maximum per household, but require that they have bar codes and be part of the state’s traceability system.
  • Limit home grows to four plants, but let local governments set the rules.
  • Stick with the status quo and not allow home grows for recreational pot.

The argument in favor of allowing people to grow their own marijuana is that Washington law is too restrictive and out of sync with other states.
The argument against is that home grows could lead to diversion into the black market and defeat the state’s robust regulatory system.

“The agency is actively engaging other states, the public, the industry and stakeholders,” said Rick Garza, the Liquor and Cannabis Board director, in a news release. “We know there are many perspectives to this issue and we want to ensure they are captured for our report and recommendations.”

Washington officials are mindful that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is already unhappy with states that have legalized marijuana.

In August, he sent Washington officials a letter saying he has “serious questions” about how the state’s marijuana marketplace is functioning. Any loosening of the law could put the state at risk of even more scrutiny from the Justice Department.

The Board’s study and recommendations are due to the legislature by December 1, 2017.

The Liquor and Cannabis Board will hold a public hearing on marijuana home grows on Wednesday, October 4 at 10 a.m. in Olympia. The Board will also take written comments through October 11.

Eight states and the District of Columbia have now legalized marijuana. Washington was the first in 2012.

Washington does allow authorized medical marijuana patients to have limited grows or join a four-member marijuana “cooperative.”

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."