Washington State Should Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol

The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board have announced a date to hear from the public in regards to homegrows and in that email, they pose three options they are considering. Three unacceptable options, the third one being the worse, don’t do shit or in their words keep it status-quo due to The Cole Memo, out of fear of some federal repercussion. The WSLCB neglects that the Washington State cannabis consumer has been finding a semi-legally for 20 years and with that being said any effort to curtail a thriving state legal market reflects more upon a totalitarian federal government that we reject anyways.

The Plead

For people who do not live in Washington, for years the WSLCB was known as the Washington State Liquor Control Board (Imagine the excitement the marketing guy had to use the old acronym) and throughout its time was in charge of things like tax and rules. In 2011 Initiative 1183 passee, more commonly known as The Costco Bill. This broke the monopoly the WSLCB had on liquor and they were in danger of being dismantled until cannabis came along.

I understand that the WSLCB is a regulatory board as Dominic Corva eloquently explains in his article but he also wants us to settle for the bandito status we already have, and I say, Nay, we just want to be law-abiding citizens. In general to say “it’s only business” means someone is getting fucked but this is a win-win for all, even of the least is homegrows are allotted a minimum plant limit, that’s regulation.

I also contend it is up to any group posing as a government agency that can give consequences such as fines and jail time should be held accountable for a justice reform for you should be working for the best interest of the Washington citizen and consumer or what’s the point of having such a government agency? The question the WSLCB is really looking to answer is How does the WSLCB regulate homegrows? But really they should just regulate it like alcohol.

To dismiss the weight of social justice behind each regulatory decision is a disservice to the letter and spirit of the law, as noted by Allison Holcomb.

The BreakDown

The WSLCB sent an email with the impression that there are only 3 options for the citizen and this is not the case. A hearing has the purpose of hearing concerns and public opinion, not the selection of an option.

In the email, the WSLCB has stated that they must consider the Cole Memo and are considering 3 options before hearing from the public.

Liquor and Cannabis Board to Hold Public Hearing on Recreational Marijuana Home Grows

Agency tasked by new law to conduct study and make recommendations to Legislature by Dec. 1, 1017

OLYMPIA – The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) will hold a public hearing on Wed. Oct. 4, 2017, to receive public input on whether the State should allow home grows of recreational marijuana. The public hearing is during the regularly scheduled 10:00 a.m. Board meeting at its headquarters at 3000 Pacific Avenue in Olympia. Due to space and parking restrictions, the WSLCB encourages written public comment. Written public comment may be submitted by email through Oct. 11, 2017 at rules@lcb.wa.gov or hard copy at PO Box 43080, Olympia, WA 98504.

Note: The Board may adjust the testimony time allotted to each speaker based on the number of attendees to ensure that everyone has time to testify. 

Legislation enacted in 2017 directs the WSLCB to “conduct a study of regulatory options for the legalization of marijuana plant possession and cultivation by recreational marijuana users.” The study must take into account the “Cole Memo,” issued by the United State Department of Justice in 2013, which outlines the federal government’s enforcement priorities in states where medical or recreational marijuana has been legalized or decriminalized. The study and recommendations are due to the Legislature on Dec. 1, 2017

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

First, let us address the Cole Memo. I reached out to two Washington State cannabis activist who had this to say;

Don Skakie

The LCB often points to the DOJ Cole Memo when making proposals but usually only in reference to the eight directives and not to the meaning and intent found within the body of that memo. I would like to draw your attention to the full memo itself.

In the second paragraph it states that Congress has determined “the illegal distribution and sale of marijuana is a serious crime that provides a significant source of revenue to large-scale criminal enterprises, gangs, and cartels and the Department of Justice ” is also committed to using its limited investigative and prosecutorial resources to address the most significant threats in the most effective, consistent, and rational way.” and will focus “its efforts on certain enforcement priorities that are particularly important to the federal government:”.

In the second paragraph following the eight priorities, the memo states the Department of Justice has not historically devoted resources to prosecuting individuals whose conduct is limited to possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use on private property.  And has stepped in to enforce the CSA only when the use, possession, cultivation, or distribution of marijuana has threatened to cause one of the harms identified above.

In the fifth paragraph following the eight priorities, the memo states the Department advised that it likely was not an efficient use of federal resources to focus enforcement efforts on seriously ill individuals, or on their individual caregivers. In doing so, the previous guidance drew a distinction between the seriously ill and their caregivers, on the one hand, and large-scale, for-profit commercial enterprises, on the other, and advised that the latter continued to be appropriate targets for federal enforcement and prosecution. In drawing this distinction, the Department relied on the common-sense judgment that the size of a marijuana operation was a reasonable proxy for assessing whether marijuana trafficking implicates the federal enforcement priorities set forth above.

Clearly, although the reference in 2013 was to the seriously ill and their caregivers, it is not unreasonable to say that in practice the DOJ by lack of action against adults 21 years and older that grow small amounts of marijuana on private property for their own use in compliance with Home Grow legislation in States that provide for it in law has in practice broadened its view to include said adults in that distinction. The DOJ reiterates that its enforcement focus is not on individuals with Home Grows, but rather large scale commercial grows that would not be allowed under any home grow legislation.

And in the following paragraph, the DOJ spells out that it would move on “a  case by case basis and weigh all available information and evidence” and determine “in all cases – and in all jurisdictions” “whether the conduct at issue implicates one or more of the enforcement priorities”.

Given all that has come before, it seems clear that if Home Grow legislation were to pass it is most likely that DOJ enforcement would indeed be on a case by case basis against individuals rather than against the state or legislation itself and only then if those cases were not in compliance with said legislation.

John Kingsbury

If LCB is legitimately concerned about the Cole Memo, then they need to be looking where the problems are.  The Cole Memo talks about keeping shady money out of regulated cannabis schemes. So why, in the middle of a hidden ownership problem, was LCB lobbying for reduced transparency in ownership?  Why was LCB pushing for out-of-state ownership?  Why has LCB been ignoring the penalty of license revocations leaving bad actors with licenses when they commit true party interest violations?  They were acting in opposition to the Cole Memo then.

Diversion isn’t caused by legal home grows. Diversion is caused by prohibition, as are most black markets.
Diversion isn’t committed by some person growing eight plants in his or her basement.  Those growers are using that crop themselves.  Diversion happens from people growing 100 plants, or 300 plants, and that isn’t what we are talking about here.  People growing 300 plants don’t care whether home grows are permitted.In fact they prefer that they aren’t permitted because prohiition  creates scarcity, and that fuels black markets. Prohibition is good for them. Those people will grow and divert anyway.  They are doing it now, they always have. Home grows did not cause that.

The LCB’s home grow options have nothing to do with the Cole Memo.  None of the other states have permits and traceability and they feel fine with the Cole Memo.  The federal government isn’t shutting them down.  Even Washington DC has home grows that do not require permits and traceability.   LCB’s justifications are transparent nonsense.

To the LCB, the Cole Memo is an excuse.  Home grows aren’t the problem.  The problem is a Liquor and Cannabis Board that forgot that 502 was first and foremost about decriminalization, not about making profits for WACA [Washington Cannabusiness Association]  members.

The Cole Memo may be LCB’s perennial excuse, but the real reason we don’t have home grows is because of regulatory capture at LCB; the reason is because LCB is addicted to prohibition.  But prohibition only leads to one bad end.  They need to go to treatment to break their addiction to prohibition.  Washington voters have spoken; and I agree with them.   Until then, the LCB has shown that they aren’t capable of evaluating home grows options or capable of regulating home grows.

Options presented as per the WSLCB email:

Option 1

  • Option 1: Tightly Regulated Recreational Marijuana Home Grows
  • This option allows recreational home grows under a strict state regulatory framework based on the Cole Memo:
  • Requires a permit;
  • Four plants maximum per household;
  • All plants must be entered into the state traceability system;
  • Requirements for security, preventing youth access, preventing diversion, etc.;
  • Jurisdiction is shared between WSLCB and local authorities
  • Statutory provision that allows law enforcement to seize and destroy all plants if beyond limit;
  • Allows recreational growers to purchase plants from licensed as long as growers have a permit;
  • Same restrictions on processing marijuana that apply to medical marijuana (no combustible processing).

In the option 1 scenario as a freedom loving American, I should not need a permit that’s not required of homebrew. According to the WSLCB website, this is homebrew regulation:

Homemade beer

Can I make homemade beer at my home for private consumption? 
Yes. A license is not required if the beer is for private consumption and is not for sale.

  • Homemade beer is not required to be consumed in the home where it was produced.
  • Homemade beer may be removed from the home for private consumption.
  • The amount of homemade beer an adult may remove from the home is 20 gallons.
  • Use of homemade beer at organized affairs, exhibitions, or competitions is considered private consumption.

Additional locations

What is allowed at my additional location? 
You may sell drinks by the glass of beer of your own production, sell bottles to go, and offer food.

As far as plants going through the tractability system, that’s pretty much the expectation if one is buying clones or seeds from an I-502 store. As for the other concerns, if there needs to be excessive force involved, I just wish would reflect that of the homebrew enforcement.

Option 2

  • Option 2: Local Control of Recreational Marijuana Home Grows
  • This option is based on statewide standards including requirements for security, preventing youth access, preventing diversion, etc.;
  • Limits plants to 4 per household;
  • Allows recreational growers to purchase plants from licensed as long as growers have a permit.
  • Requires a permit to possess plants.

Before I give my opinion, here’s how the WSLCB says they differ:

Difference from Option 1

  • Does not require plants to be entered into traceability
  • State sets minimum requirements. Local jurisdictions can be more restrictive.
  • Authorized, controlled, and enforced by local jurisdictions
  • Home grows are prohibited without local permission

To me, we are still in that grey area of permits and registrations, and I have to ask why? Are homebrews treated as such? I think not, and it is with that I say treat homegrows like homebrew.

Option 3

  • Option 3. Recreational Home Grows are Prohibited
  • This option preserves the status quo. Recreational home grows continue to remain prohibited:
  • A regulated market exists today with statewide access;
  • Recreational home grows may provide a cover for diversion;
  • The Cole Memo is concerned with diversion, youth access, and the criminal element;
  • Home grows for medical marijuana are allowed as well as cooperatives.

This again is unacceptable because you can’t have legalization without homegrow, kind of defeats the purpose. We don’t have the right to choose what freedom means; we just must abide by and learn. Learn what kind of rules need to be in place, learn the implications of people day smoking like day drinking, learn about cannabis and freedom. It’s unacceptable to the law-abiding consumer and the citizen of Washington State too. We have a chance to make up for decades of the misguided and racist war on drugs, the opportunity to give each citizen black, white, brown, or yellow a chance to plant a seed and learn about a plant that could bring them away from poverty.

Option 4, None of The Above, take it to the legislature

It is not naive or even hippie idealistic to think that Washington should have a laissez-faire policy towards homegrow, not while people have died and are dying during the rest of the nation’s misguided war on drugs. Marijuana legalization is not just a business decision; it’s life or death for the sanity of our nation. The WSLCB has the opportunity to increase profit (through the sale of clones and seeds) and to appease social justice hearts by either allowing a minimum plant count or to let the legislature deal with it.

The WSLCB presented a set of options that they think is acceptable because they are still afraid of real legalization, but what are you scared of? These three options are not the only one nor can they tell you to choose one of the three, it’s up to you (us) the citizen to show up and say let’s cut the bullshit. It’s up to us to use the forums and tell them to stop milking the citizens and let’s continue with real business like addiction, homelessness, or even our children’s education.

If you can’t be there in person, send them an e-mail, a tweet and let them know that they should regulate like homebrew or leave it to the legislature. I urge you the reader, the Washington State citizen to let the WSLCB.know that you don’t think its right or fair to only layout 3 options when there shouldn’t be at all. If the WSLCB is too afraid to stand by a plant limit for the average citizen than I think it should be up to the legislature, please let the WSLCB know that you choose option 4 which is none of the above and that you wish to take it to the legislature.

For WSLCB Contact info, you can go here https://lcb.wa.gov/marj/homegrow-study

Miguel a.k.a Miggy420
About Miguel a.k.a Miggy420 269 Articles
My name is Miguel but I go by Miggy420 on the interwebs. My mission is to end prohibition through education, entertainment, and spreading awareness of those facing injustice, we are stronger as a whole when we're all informed.I don't have a degree but my resume includes 8 years of blogging, 10 years in the military, and presently working in the tech industry.