OLYMPIA – Washington could follow other states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use and allow residents to grow a limited number of plants at home, but such a law might be hard to enforce, a House committee was told Monday.
The House is considering a bill that allow Washington residents to grow as many as six marijuana plants for recreational use in their home and have up to 24 ounces of the drug on hand. Current law allows medical marijuana users in some cases to grow their plants at home, but not recreational users.
“It’s a God-given herb. I should be able to have it in my garden,” Dawn Darington told the House Commerce and Gaming Committee, which has jurisdiction over most marijuana legislation.
The problem stems from Initiative 502, which legalized marijuana for recreational use and set up a state system to regulate its production and sales. It didn’t have a provision for home grows, Bailey Hirschberg, of marijuana-law reform group Washington NORML, said.
Although Washington was among the first states to legalize recreational marijuana, several others have followed. Washington is the only one that doesn’t allow residents some ability to grow marijuana at home for their own use, supporters said.
But Jennifer Monds of Kennewick said the Legislature may be moving too quickly to allow recreational marijuana to be grown at home: “We have no safety provisions in place protecting our children from the serious issues surrounding home grows.”
Mitch Barker, of the Washington Association of Police Chiefs, said local agencies will have trouble enforcing the law, particularly if they get reports that someone is growing a few more plants than the limit.
The state Liquor and Cannabis Board, which oversees legal marijuana operations in the state, is concerned about the risk of home grows spreading, Justin Nordhorm, the agency’s chief of enforcement, said. And it also doesn’t have the resources available to enforce such a limit.
The committee could vote on the bill in the coming weeks.