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Liquor and Cannabis Board floats guidelines for home-grown recreational pot

UPDATED: Wed., Nov. 29, 2017, 9:26 p.m.

In this Feb. 17, 2016 file photo, plants grow at the home of Jeremy Nickle, owner of Hawaiian Holy Smokes, in Honolulu, Hawaii. (Marina Riker / AP)
In this Feb. 17, 2016 file photo, plants grow at the home of Jeremy Nickle, owner of Hawaiian Holy Smokes, in Honolulu, Hawaii. (Marina Riker / AP)

OLYMPIA – Washington residents who want to produce their own recreational marijuana at home might someday be able to grow four plants under a tightly regulated and licensed system. Or they might be out of luck entirely.

On Wednesday, the agency that oversees the state’s legal marijuana industry sent the Legislature its recommendations after months of study on the potential for home-grown recreational pot.

The Liquor and Cannabis Board did not come up with a favored recommendation. Instead, it listed three that it said could keep Washington from running afoul of federal guidelines for states that have legalized the substance, which the U.S. Government still lists as an illegal drug.

Those guidelines, known as the Cole Memo, offer a relative “hands-off” approach by the feds as long as marijuana is kept away from children, not smuggled across state lines and isn’t providing drugs or money to organized crime or cartels.

That memo rules out any consideration of a “no regulation” option, the agency said in a report requested by this year’s legislative session.

Instead, the Liquor and Cannabis Board listed three possible options:

    Strict state control, with no more than four plants allowed per household and requiring a permit issued by the state. All the plants would have to be traceable, and a permit holder would have to maintain requirements for security and keeping the marijuana away from minors.

    State controls for security, permit requirements and preventing youth access, as well as the same four-plant limit. But cities and counties would be able to decide whether to allow home grows.

    A continued ban on home-grown recreational marijuana.

While the agency doesn’t pick a preferred option, it notes that sheriffs around the state were opposed to home-grows and that “a regulated system is in place and widely available throughout the state.” That regulated system, the report says, has generated almost $2.9 billion in sales in just over three years, and more than $850 million in taxes to the state.

The Legislature could act on the recommendation in the 2018 session which starts Jan. 8.