Spin Control

Senate panel OKs state pot biz mega-committee

OLYMPIA – Facing a wide range of challenges for allowing different forms of legal marijuana, the Senate budget panel voted to set up a 22-member committee board to try to work things out.

The proposed State Cannabis Industry Coordinating Committee would have four legislators, representatives from seven state agencies, one each from cities and counties, and nine members from businesses involved in recreational or medical marijuana or industrial hemp.

Legislators are wrestling with different ideas to merge the state’s separate recreational and marijuana systems as a way to avoid a federal crackdown on a substance that remains illegal under federal law. But some longtime supporters of medical marijuana object to being brought into a system with high taxes and strict limits on how much they can grow and possess.

Meanwhile, other groups are pushing the state to allow cultivation of industrial hemp, a variety of the same plant that contains low levels of the chemicals in recreational marijuana.

Senate Bill 6542 emerged in the last week as a possible compromise to ease the state through many unknown developments in the next two years. The committee would set up a comprehensive plan “for business opportunities within the cannabis industry” and could appoint a state coordinator for that industry.

The bill was sent to the committee that will decide whether it gets a vote by the full Senate in the nine days remaining in the session. 

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Jim Camden
Jim Camden is the Olympia bureau chief, covering the Legislature and state government. He also is a political columnist and blogger for Spin Control.

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