Washington State Legislature – Bill Updates
(March 4, 2019)

Here are some observations of the Washington State Legislature’s activity on several cannabis bills which are still active after the fiscal committee cutoff was reached on Friday March 1st.

My top 3 takeaways:

  • SB 5298, “Regarding labeling of marijuana products,” was introduced for its second reading on the Senate floor but action was deferred on its amendments which range from clarifying technical changes to the resurrection of the language of the home grow bills.
    • On January 31st, the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee hosted a public hearing for SB 5298.
    • On February 20th, the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee hosted an executive session for SB 5298. Members adopted a substitute bill and referred it to the Senate Rules Committee with a “do pass” recommendation.
    • On February 26th, the Senate Rules Committee queued SSB 5298 on the second reading calendar for consideration on the Senate floor. At the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB), Director of Legislative Relations Chris Thompson discussed the agency’s perspective on the substitute bill during his legislative update at the Board Caucus.
    • On March 4th, SSB 5298 was scheduled on the Senate’s Order of Consideration for second reading. Three amendments had been proposed:
      • Senate President Pro Tempore Karen Keiser, who heard SB 5298 as Chair of the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee, proposed a “striker” amendment (5298-S AMS KEIS S2163.1) to “[clarify] that marijuana products identified for medical use are those products identified in chapter 246-70 WAC by the department of health as being compliant products.”
      • Senator Ann Rivers, the bill’s prime sponsor, proposed an amendment (5298-S AMS RIVE S2573.1) which “Provides that it is not a violation of any law or rule to have information on the label of a marijuana product that describes the product’s psychoactive effect or makes a legal claim related to the products nonmarijuana ingredients.”
      • Senator Maureen Walsh proposed amending the legislation to include the legalization of adult home growing of cannabis based on SB 5155, which she sponsored. The amendment (5298-S AMS WALS S2465.1) “Authorizes a person to grow up to 6 marijuana plants on the premises of their housing unit. A single housing unit may not have more than 15 plants. Sets new limits for the possession of useable marijuana. Requires that all plants and products must be labeled and identify the owner. Allows a property owner to prohibit cultivating plants by a renter or lessee. Protects marijuana and marijuana products, and the property on which they were produced or possessed under the new authorization, from seizure and forfeiture.”
        • See Cannabis Observer’s bill analysis and shared documents below for details on SB 5155.
        • Walsh’s proposed amendment is the farthest home grow has progressed in Washington’s legislature.
    • When SB 5298 was introduced just after 3:20pm, Rivers suggested the Senate follow Labor and Commerce’s “do pass” recommendation and adopt the substitute version of the bill. Keiser said she heard no objections and ordered the adoption of the substitute (video).
    • After the Secretary of the Senate read Keiser’s amendment, Majority Floor Leader Marko Liias was recognized and recommended the Senate stand “at ease” for 15 minutes. Immediately after, Keiser again recognized Senator Liias: “I move that the Senate defer further action on Senate Bill 5298, that it hold its place on today’s second reading calendar.” Keiser replied, “The motion is before us. Hearing no objections, so ordered.” The bill and its amendments may be considered later (video).
  • SB 5605, “Concerning misdemeanor marijuana offense convictions,” was referred out of the Senate Ways and Means Committee unchanged for consideration by the Senate Rules Committee.
    • On February 12th, the Senate Law and Justice Committee hosted a public hearing for SB 5605.
    • On February 14th, the Senate Law and Justice Committee hosted an executive session for SB 5605. After rejecting an attempted amendment, members referred the bill unchanged to the Senate Ways and Means Committee with a “do pass” recommendation.
    • On February 19th, the Senate Ways and Means Committee hosted a public hearing for SB 5605.
      • Claire Goodwin, a committee Fiscal Analyst, briefed members on the bill and spoke to its financial impact on the state (video).
        • The Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) reported an “indeterminate” fiscal impact, but asserted “about 43,000 persons between 2005 and 2018 would be eligible to apply” to vacate their misdemeanor convictions. The AOC estimated if all eligible citizens utilized the process it would cost $3.9 million. They estimated each case would take about 15 minutes and require 5 full time judges with 44 support staff.
        • Washington State Patrol (WSP) estimated a $453,000 one-time expenditure from the general fund for physical removal of conviction records by staff. The agency fiscal note estimated how many citizens may qualify: “The WSP’s Criminal Records Division (CRD) has 68,543 misdemeanor marijuana convictions in our database that would qualify for vacation.”
      • No one signed in to testify at the public hearing. However, Chair Christine Rolfes noted five people signed in to support the bill, but did not ask to testify.
    • On February 26th, the Senate Ways and Means Committee hosted an executive session for SB 5605. Members referred the bill to the Senate Rules Committee with a “do pass” recommendation (video).
      • Three Senators voted against the bill: Assistant Ranking Member (Capital) Jim Honeyford and Senators Keith Wagoner and Judy Warnick.
      • Seven Senators voted to move the bill out of committee “without recommendation”: Ranking Member John Braun, Assistant Ranking Member (Operating) Sharon Brown, and Senators Barbara Bailey, Randi Becker, Ann Rivers, Mark Schosler, and Lynda Wilson.
    • SB 5605 was referred to the Senate Rules Committee to be considered for addition to the second reading calendar.
  • SB 5318, “Reforming the compliance and enforcement provisions for marijuana licensees,” was referred out of the Senate Ways and Means Committee for consideration by the Senate Rules Committee.
    • On January 31st, the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee hosted a public hearing for SB 5318.
    • On February 20th, the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee hosted an executive session for SB 5318. Members adopted a substitute bill, rejected two amendments, and referred the bill to the Senate Ways and Means Committee.
    • On February 27th, WSLCB Board Members and agency leadership discussed SSB 5318 and its House counterpart, HB 1237, at length during their Executive Management Team meeting.
    • On February 28th, the Senate Ways and Means Committee hosted a public hearing for SSB 5318.
    • On March 1st, the Senate Ways and Means Committee hosted an executive session for SSB 5318 (video).
      • Committee staff briefed members on the bill and conveyed WSLCB’s projected fiscal outlays of $1.3 million for the current biennium and $1.2 million for the next biennium towards “additional enforcement staffing.” Costs would be budgeted from the Dedicated Marijuana Account.
      • The bill was passed by voice vote with only Senator Honeyford standing against the bill. SSB 5318 was referred to the Senate Rules Committee to be considered for addition to the chamber’s second reading calendar (video).
    • On March 4th, Senator Mike Padden proposed an amendment to SSB 5318 (5318-S AMS PADD S2471.2); from the amendment’s stated effects: “Maintains original language in SSB Sec. 7 and adds provisions to that section, plus revisions to RCW 69.50.580 to the following effect:
      • Adds additional statutory requirements for a marijuana licensee who applies to move the location of the licensed business. Requires notice to local governments of a proposed relocation and allows the local government to file an objection within 45 days of the notice.
      • If requested by a local government, the Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) must hold a hearing on any application by the licensee. The objecting local government has the right to appear and present its objections. The basis for a local government’s right to object to a license application is expanded to include: (1) The number of existing licensed retail outlets within five miles; and (2) law enforcement’s concern about potential products being transported out-of-state.
      • Modifies the definition of “chronic illegal activity” to cover a pattern of activity (instead of a “pervasive” pattern) and expanded to include that out-of-state diversion activity and illegal activity may also be considered when reported by law enforcement of another state.
      • Adds public notice requirements to include a notice, posted at the premises, when a licensee proposes to move its location. The current law that allows local governments to require, by ordinance, additional notices by licensees to certain entities located within 1,000 feet of the proposed location, is expanded to include notice to nearby residents and licensed businesses. Objections may be filed based on the grounds that are granted a local government, including the new provisions added in to RCW 69.50.331 in the amendment.
      • Adds new provisions for objecting residents and entities: (1) The LCB must consider those objections; (2) the residents and entities have the right to request, and present their objections, at a hearing, if the LCB approves an application; and (3) the residents and entities have the right to appear and present their objections at any hearing requested by an applicant whose application was denied.
      • Directs the Liquor and Cannabis Board to assist, within available resources, any in-state or out-of-state law enforcement agency with concerns over the in-state purchase of licensed marijuana products for use or resale outside of this state.”
    • Should SB 5318 be queued on the second reading calendar by the Senate Rules Committee, Padden’s amendment will be debated and voted upon before a final vote on the bill by the full Senate.

Here are shared documents for your review:

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