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House votes to take up pot definitions

OLYMPIA -- Time is running out in the session, but the House voted overwhelmingly today to consider a new bill to fix a problem with the state's new marijuana law.

As explained in a previous post, the definition from Initiativee 502 of what makes a substance illegal marijuana is creating problems for winning convictions in drug trafficking and growing cases. House Bill 2056 was drafted Wednesday, and had a hearing in a House committee Thursday, to rewrite the definition, but it's so late in the session that it needs special dispensation even to get a vote.

That comes through a concurrent resolution, that must be approved by both chambers by a two-thirds majority. The resolution sailed through the House on a 94-1 vote, and was sent to the Senate.

Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley, couldn't resist a little nudge before the vote: "It is good to see there is a two-thirds vote required on this floor that is constitutional."

For those not keeping close watch at home, that's a reference to the issue of requiring two-thirds majorities on tax increases. The state Supreme Court court ruled in January that must be done with a constitutional amendment, not through initiative as voters had done several times. Republicans also tried unsuccessfully to put the two-thirds majority requirement for taxes into legislative rules.

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The Spokesman-Review's political team keeps a critical eye on local, state and national politics.