The governor acknowledged the racist legacy of using the term ‘marijuana’ in reference to the plant before signing a law to use the word ‘cannabis’ in state statute and rules instead.
Here are some observations from the Friday March 11th Washington State Office of the Governor (WA Governor) Bill Action.
My top 3 takeaways:
- On March 11th, Governor Jay Inslee offered short remarks before signing HB 1210 into law, "Replacing the term 'marijuana' with the term 'cannabis' throughout the Revised Code of Washington" (audio - <1m, video).
- The governor said the term ‘marijuana’ had “a racist history in the United States. It was used in anti-immigrant rhetoric in the early 20th century.” Stating “we are tied to our history of language,” he suggested the change “signals that we acknowledge the history of that language that targeted communities of color.”
- Inslee thanked the sponsor, Representative Melanie Morgan, before signing the enrolled bill into law.
- Morgan also chaired the Washington State Legislative Task Force on Social Equity in Cannabis (WA SECTF), which had been asked to make recommendations—not always followed—on remedies to inequity in cannabis market ownership.
- Learn more about the legislation from the final Senate and House bill reports.
- The legislation to shift from using a common slang term in state law to the scientific name for the plant took over a year, spanning two legislative sessions, before delivery to Inslee’s desk.
- The bill was first heard in the Washington State House Commerce and Gaming Committee (WA House COG) in January 2021. The committee recommended the bill for passage the following week after incorporating an amendment from Morgan requested by Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) staff which would require the agency to undertake expedited rulemaking. After WA House COG recommended passage, HB 1210 was passed by the Washington State House of Representatives (WA House) in March 2021.
- Later that month in the senate, the legislation received a hearing and executive session by the Washington State Senate Labor, Commerce, and Tribal Affairs Committee (WA Senate LCTA). However, momentum on the bill stopped and it was sent back to the Washington State House Rules Committee (WA House RUL) at the end of the 2021 legislative session.
- On January 14th, the WA House COG again approved a proposed substitute to the bill which was passed by the full house a second time on February 2nd.
- WA Senate LCTA members heard the bill on February 17th, and recommended passage without further change on February 21st. From there, Senator Karen Keiser included the legislation in a package pull to the senate floor calendar on February 25th, leading to it being passed by that chamber on March 1st.
- The bill was projected to have a minimal budget effect in fiscal years (FY) 2022 and 2023 at WSLCB and three other agencies:
- Washington State Administrative Office of the Courts - $2,653 required for updates “to numerous forms and to the law tables. This would require 40 hours of a Court Program Specialist.”
- Washington State Department of Revenue - $61,200 required for computer programming updates; publications and online information; responding to inquiries about the change, and general “verbiage changes on materials and in the system.”
- WSLCB - $20,442 needed for “onetime costs to implement the bill as all public facing sites, systems, and service will need to be modified to remove the word ‘marijuana’ and replace it with ‘cannabis.’” There would also be vendor and staffing costs.
- Washington State Department of Corrections - $11,000 required for staff to update the department’s Offender Management Network Information (OMNI) with the revisions to RCW initiated through the bill.
- At publication time, only a few steps were left before the law became effective, and WSLCB staff weren’t obligated to wait before opening rulemaking to change references in rule to ‘cannabis.’
- A legislative overview explains that: “From the Governor's desk, bills go to the Secretary of State who assigns a session law chapter number.” Session laws are incorporated into RCW, and take full effect 90 days after final adjournment of the session in which it is enacted. However, HB 1210 included several effective and expiration dates for specific sections already scheduled to change in the statutes modified by HB 1210 due to unrelated, previously passed bills. The first sections would become effective on July 1st.
- WSLCB staff would be required to undertake expedited rulemaking to revise Washington Administrative Code (WAC) references from ‘marijuana’ to ‘cannabis’ and would not have to wait until the law takes effect to begin that process.
- At publication time, among 18 U.S. states which had legalized cannabis for adult use, the word ‘marijuana’ was still being used in an official capacity in Alaska, Arizona, Maine, Michigan, Montana, New York, and Virginia.
WA Legislature - 2021-22 - HB 1210
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Partial Audio - TVW - HB 1210
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Audio - TVW - 01 - HB 1210 - Bill Action - Jay Inslee (25s; Mar 14, 2022) [ Info ]