Home Grown: Thumbs Up or Down for Washington Growers?

January 4, 2018

Of all the states that allow recreational cannabis, Washington is the only one that prohibits growing cannabis indoors for residents. Now, there’s hope that may change. But what could that mean for you and your favorite local dispensary?

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. It's a completely natural product that requires minimal processing to be medically or recreationally viable.

Of course, there’s a catch: for decades, growing cannabis indoors wasn’t a right, but a serious crime under federal law.

Now it seems that’s all up in the air…or is it?

While federal decriminalization seems only a matter of time, it’s impossible to predict when that will happen. 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’d we come to this state of affairs, and—more importantly—is there 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 refer to the Cole Memo. This 2013 memo outlined a cautious, legally nuanced approach for states to determine their destiny when it comes to cannabis.

Though in hindsight, the Obama-era Department of Justice looks like an opium den compared with the current iteration under Jeff Sessions, 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.

So when it came time to debate decriminalization, Washington State went over and above the memo. It became the only legal-weed state to prohibit private citizens from growing cannabis indoors. (The more recent SB 5131 made an exception for medical marijuana patients to grow a limited amount for personal use.)

While that’s a major frustration for budding home growers, there is still hope. Namely, 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: A No-Go on Growing Cannabis Indoors

Sadly, any short-term hope those itching to grow cannabis indoors may have felt evaporated with the Dec. 1 report. While it didn’t 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 Clear Choice 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 lies with state lawmakers, who begin the 2018 legislative session in early January. However, the Cole Memo's tone and the Attorney General’s stance on cannabis indicate the ban will likely remain in effect.

As always, we'll keep our ears to the ground to continue reporting on the cannabis issues you care about most. 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 around, we support your right to determine where and how you get cannabis.

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