What Washington State Did to Protect Their Legal Cannabis Market

February 15, 2017

Washington Introduces House Bill 1895

Many states in the U.S. are anxiously awaiting clarification on where our new administration under President Trump stands on cannabis, but Washington state isn’t sitting by idly waiting for their first move. Introducing House Bill 1895, bipartisan legislation that would bar state officials from cooperating with the feds - therefore protecting their current legal framework for recreational cannabis. Why was it important for Washington to take action now? Let’s break it down.

The Uncertainty of the Trump Administration

Last month Jeff Sessions, our newly appointed Attorney General, had stricken fear in states across the country who had legalized medical and recreational cannabis when he challenged the validity of the Cole memorandum. “... I am not privy to any Department of Justice data regarding the effectiveness and value of the policies contained within that memorandum,” he said.

Trump had told The Washington Post, “I think [legal cannabis] should be a state issue, state-by-state… Marijuana is such a big thing. I think medical should happen — right? Don’t we agree? I think so. And then I really believe we should leave it up to the states." Then, most recently we’d reported on how Jeff Sessions had said that if cannabis as a Schedule I drug was no longer desired, then it needed to be Congress to change its status. What does this back-and-forth banter mean for the growing cannabis market? Uncertainty. No one knows for sure, which is why Washington decided to be proactive in protecting itself.

What Did Washington Do to Protect Itself?

Sponsored by Representatives, David Sawyer, Cary Condetta, Brandon Vick, and David Taylor, the House Bill 1895, would work to protect Washington’s current cannabis legislation “prohibiting the use of public resources to assist the federal government in any activity that might impede or interfere with Washington state’s regulation of marijuana and marijuana-related products.” If officials do cooperate with federal law enforcement, which is quite common, they would face disciplinary action and could lose their job.

What Are Their Next Steps?

The HB 1895 is currently in front of the House Committee on Government, Elections, and Information Technology. In the meantime, there is also action being taken at a national level to protect states’ rights and current cannabis programs. In December, Congress extended a spending provision, until April, preventing the use of DOJ funds and resources to prosecute states’ programs.

So, we shall see what becomes of it. All we can do is take precautions and hope that the money and resources it would require to intervene in the growing number of legal state programs would be too much of an undertaking for the federal government. That, and that they see the changing opinion on cannabis in general.


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