WA House COG - Committee Meeting
(January 21, 2020) - Summary

Last Tuesday, the Committee heard two bills which would substantially revise cannabis advertising law and recommended passage of the home grow bill.

Here are some observations from the Tuesday January 21st Washington State House Commerce and Gaming Committee (COG) committee meeting.

My top 3 takeaways:

  • The House Commerce and Gaming Committee hosted public hearings on two new cannabis bills, beginning with HB 2350 - “Preventing youth marijuana consumption by updating marijuana advertising requirements.”
    • Staff Report
    • Representative Steve Kirby, the bill’s primary sponsor, shared his perspective on the legislation as well as its relation to, and differences from, HB 2321 (audio - 4m, video).
      • Kirby’s remarks drew questions, first from Representative Jesse Young on conflation between the two bills (audio - <1m, video).
      • Representative Bill Jenkin had a query about whether Kirby had heard support for a billboard ban from current licensees (audio - 3m, video).
    • As the two bills had considerable overlap, Committee Chair Strom Peterson encouraged speakers to provide comments on both HB 2350 and HB 2321 at the same time if they were signed in to testify on both bills (audio - <1m, video).
    • Pro (8)
    • Con (7)
      • Bryan McConaughy, Washington SunGrowers Industry Association (WSIA) Lobbyist (audio - 2m, video)
      • Mark Ambler, Tier 1 Producers Association (T1PA) Founder (audio – 2m, video)
      • Korbe Palmer, Lamar Outdoor Advertising Vice President and General Manager (audio - 3m, video)
        • Palmer said billboards represented “one of the most popular forms of advertising” in the 502 market and were “effective, affordable, and continues to see growth across the country in all categories.” He felt that ban would lead to “potential layoffs” at Lamar following “substantial investments in our Washington state facilities.”
        • Palmer noted that Colorado had “just reinstated cannabis billboards” after “having a billboard ban in place for several years” and speculated that reasons for the reversal could include “decrease in tax revenue,” threats of a lawsuit, or “did it appear that it was anti-business?”
        • He said Lamar shared worries others raised about youth use of cannabis but said that studies critical of billboard effects on youth were “unrepresentative of the sample size” and focused on medical cannabis. Palmer promised that Lamar would work with lawmakers and communities directly in addressing concerns about billboard regulations.
      • James Wohrle, Lamar Outdoor Advertising Account Executive (audio - 3m, video)
      • Dylan Doty, Doty and Associates, lobbyist for Lamar Outdoor Advertising (audio - 4m, video)
        • Following the testimony of Palmer, Wohrle, and Doty, Kirby asked about a billboard ban policy (audio - 1m, video).
        • Ranking Member Drew MacEwen wanted to know if any billboards had been constructed specifically for cannabis advertising (audio - 4m, video).
        • Jenkin asked panelists for their recommendations on complaints he’d heard about a retailer’s billboard in his district (audio - 4m, video).
      • Paul Taylor, Byrnes Keller Cromwell Attorney representing Lamar Outdoor Advertising (audio - 4m, video)
        • After Taylor’s testimony, Chambers asked about prevention billboards utilizing cannabis terms and imagery (audio - 2m, video).
      • Kyle Capizzi, Craft Cannabis Coalition (CCC) Executive Director (signed in)
  • During executive session, committee members voted to advance the home grow bill, HB 1131 - “Allowing residential marijuana agriculture.”
    • Introduced during the 2019 session, HB 1131 was granted a public hearing by WA House COG exactly one year prior. However, the policy committee members never took action to modify or advance the bill. The bill’s senate companion, SB 5155, is awaiting action in the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee following that bill’s public hearing in 2019. Washington and Illinois are the only states with legalized cannabis that do not allow adults to grow any plants in their home.
    • Vice Chair Shelly Kloba made a motion to pass HB 1131 out of committee with a “do-pass recommendation” which was seconded by the Chair (audio - <1m, video).
      • Representative Brian Blake, the bill’s primary sponsor, shared his reasons for putting forward the legislation (audio - 1m, video).
      • Jenkin explained that he’d be unable to support the bill because “some plants are like ten plants,” meaning he feared the bill legalized what he considered to be large gardens (audio - 1m, video).
      • Representative Melanie Morgan shared her concerns about the bill’s effects on renters and communities of color (audio - 1m, video).
    • Committee members voted to advance the bill, with the exceptions of Chambers and Jenkin, who voted against during a roll call vote (audio - 1m, video).
    • On January 24th, the House Rules Committee referred the legislation to the House Appropriations Committee which can either hold another public hearing on the fiscal impact of the proposal or send it back to Rules given the bill’s minimal fiscal effects.