Our priorities: A safe marketplace that keeps pot out of the hands of minors

We live in challenging times and supporting a legal marketplace for cannabis is now just one of many arenas in which robust political debates are being held. As an industry, and on behalf of our members, our priority always is to support a safe, quality-controlled and regulated marketplace that keeps marijuana out of the hands of minors. With that priority in mind – and against the backdrop of a White House administration which is actively questioning the validity and safety of the movement to legalize cannabis  – the Washington CannaBusiness Association is opposed to allowing the general public to grow cannabis for recreational use at home. Cannabis legalization occurred under strict assurances that the industry would be highly-regulated and deviating from our current state administered control policies, at this time, could be harmful to our long term efforts as individuals and as an industry.  With the spotlight growing brighter, and with the choices for quality-controlled, regulated products for responsible adults expanding exponentially, this may be the worst time to loosen restrictions.

We advocated for and continue to support allowing patients with the authorization of a medical professional to grow cannabis at home for their own personal use.

President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions are, at best, skeptical of legal cannabis marketplaces and can be, I think, fairly described as outright opposed to the concept, despite overwhelming popular support. We may be tired of antiquated “Reefer Madness” fears, out of step with both our experience and popular opinion, but that they exist means there is still work to be done. Failure to recognize this reality has real policy implications. An effort in Olympia earlier this year to reform our existing regulations to allow for more out-of-state investors to partner with licensed cannabis businesses in Washington to help small businesses compete was abruptly cut short when Attorney General Jeff Sessions voiced his opposition to legal marijuana. Regulations concerning advertising were also significantly enhanced this year in order to reduce any possibility that businesses were targeting minors or working across state lines. Clearly, the new administration’s hostility toward legal cannabis is affecting our state’s marketplace.

We are a democratically-run industry association and we have polled our members regarding their position on allowing for recreational home grows. The message from our members – producers, processors and retailers of all sizes - was clear: now is not the time to loosen regulations to allow for just anyone to grow cannabis at home. While we are supportive of the state’s current study to determine potential ways to regulate home grows – the study was included in the omnibus cannabis bill that we advocated for in Olympia earlier this year – we do not believe that home grows are currently in alignment with our top priority of keeping pot out of the hands of minors and shutting down the black market.

At a time when the White House is looking for any excuse to crack down on legal marketplaces, we should be refining the strong regulations that are already in place, not loosening them up.

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