Bill in Washington Legislature would loosen restriction on homegrown Cannabis

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Bill in Washington Legislature would loosen restriction on homegrown Cannabis

No need to leave the house and venture to the nearest pot shop, it could become legal to grow recreational cannabis at home.

A proposed bill debated last week in the Washington Legislature would allow those 21 and older to grow and keep the products from as many as six cannabis plants designed for personal use, similar to a bill last year that stalled in committee, both sponsored by Rep. Shelley Kloba, D-Kirkland.

Washington already allows certain medical patients to grow up to six plants under the medical marijuana law, yet, if legalized, Washington would join a multitude of states and Canada where recreational cannabis is allowed to be homegrown.

David Morgan, co-owner of Lucky Leaf Co. in Spokane, said gardening has been linked to many positive health aspects.

“It’s therapeutic to be able to care for your own plants; it’s something to do that helps release stress,” David Morgan, co-owner of Lucky Leaf Co. told The Spokesman-Review.

Growing marijuana at home does not jeopardize sales from the larger retail cannabis industry, Kloba said. She compared home production of marijuana to microbreweries, which are an extension of the larger brewery industry. Revenue is not taken away, instead, appreciation of the industry is enhanced and sales increase.

A 2020 study at Washington State University found that microbreweries act as a complement to the larger brewery industry, attracting new customers to the market. The same is predicted for homegrown cannabis, posing little threat overall and instead acting as a complement to the larger retail cannabis industry. The study also found in Colorado and Oregon where home cultivation is legal, the stability of the retail market increased, and cannabis sales had a higher growth rate compared to Washington.

Growing cannabis is not as easy as it looks, Morgan said. Tending to these plants takes time and effort which in return makes people appreciate products on the market.

Growing marijuana at home gives people the freedom to choose what type of seed they want to grow based on desired genetics, Morgan said.

Genetically, seeds are either male or female. However, he noted that a male seed is worthless because male cannabis plants produce seeds that are used for pollination and breeding purposes. Female seeds, on the other hand, produce flowers or buds that can be smoked, which is what people normally find in dispensaries.

To bypass the complicated nature of male versus female plants, he said there are places in Oregon where people can buy starter or baby plants to speed up the process and ensure they receive the type of plant they want.

Homegrown cannabis can also reduce the risk of pesticide use because growers can decide whether they want to use them or not. Right now, 332 pesticide products are allowed for use when growing high-potency THC products, according to the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board.

Cannabis plants start from a seed just like any other plant. Morgan said he’s seen 10 seeds go for as little as $10, but seeds can also cost up to $2,000 depending on the breeder and exclusivity.

“It’s far less expensive to purchase a seed, but you have to consider the seed to flower,” he said. “It’s a minimum of three months, three months of time and energy.”

The grower also has to pay for nutrients, water and electricity, he said.

Leafly estimates the cost of homegrown cannabis starts at $5.80 per gram within the first year, potentially decreasing to $1.34 per gram in subsequent years. At Lucky Leaf Co. it costs $12 for one gram, but pricing fluctuates based on quality and market value.

Currently, home cultivation of cannabis without an approved medical reason is classified as a class C felony, punishable by up to five years in jail and up to $10,000.

Under the proposed bill, there is still punishment for having more than six cannabis plants. If a person has more than six but less than 16 cannabis plants, it’s considered a class one civil infraction, and they could be fined a minimum of $250 but no more than $500. If home growers are found with more than 16 plants, it is classified as a class C felony.

The bill requires cultivators to be homeowners. If someone is renting an apartment or condo, legally they cannot grow cannabis within their home because they are not considered homeowners.

The current bill does not mention regulations on the cultivation of cannabis at home in the presence of children. Unlike last year’s bill, which prohibited home marijuana cultivation in households with daycares or fostering arrangements, these specific requirements are not spelled out in this year’s proposal.

Homegrown cannabis produces buds that can be ground down into flower which people can use to smoke or make edibles with. However, if people are looking to use their cannabis to create oil or wax for a vaporizer or cannabis pen, it can be unsafe when done outside of a controlled laboratory setting.

“People can cook with it, and they can smoke it, but making a vape cartridge or dabs is not a real possibility,” Morgan said.

It usually takes butane gas to extract oil, and it has backfired on a lot of people, he said. It’s dangerous and has exploded in some instances. Creating oil usually requires highly explosive and toxic chemicals that can cause bodily harm if consumed.

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Region: Washington

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