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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Valley tracking marijuana legislation

One bill ties taxes – and shared revenue – to point of sale

Most of the anticipated marijuana regulation working its way through the Washington Legislature remains up in the air.

That was the main message Spokane Valley Deputy City Attorney Eric Lamb presented to the City Council on Tuesday evening.

Lamb and Spokane Valley lobbyists are keeping a close eye on Senate Bill 5052 and House Bill 2136, which are addressing separate but closely connected issues.

Lamb said the Senate bill will consolidate medical and recreational marijuana and put the regulation of both under the state Liquor Control Board.

“There is so much going on that (the bills) change on an almost daily basis,” Lamb said. “It’s yet uncertain what the final iteration will be.”

The Senate bill may call for all medical marijuana users to be registered in a state-run database, making it possible for medical marijuana shops to easily determine if a patient really has a prescription.

In its current form, it would phase out collective gardens, which can have as many as 10 patients involved at a time, and replace them with cooperatives that have to be registered with the Liquor Control Board and can only have four patients involved.

Lamb said the House bill is the primary revenue sharing bill, and in its current form it would collect a single tax at 30 percent at the point of retail.

“If you have no retail shops or the ones you have are not doing very well, then you will not get a lot of revenue,” Lamb said, adding that a city that has banned retail sale – something the Spokane Valley has debated – will not get any tax revenue.

Spokane Valley has lobbied hard to get language addressing public smoking lounges into one of the bills.

Lamb said that hasn’t happened.

At one point, it looked like the new legislation would allow anyone to grow six plants at home, but Lamb said that part appears to be dead.

The last day of the regular legislative session is April 26, and Lamb said they’ll continue to monitor things as the session winds down.