Washington State Paves Way for Interstate Cannabis Commerce: Legislation Aims to Boost Legal Marijuana Market

In a groundbreaking move, lawmakers in Washington State are on the verge of passing legislation that could pave the way for licensed marijuana businesses to engage in cross-border commerce with cannabis companies in other legal states. The state’s House of Representatives recently approved the bill, SB 5069, with a 71-26 vote. Although a minor amendment was added on the House floor to correct an error in the version passed by the Senate last month, the legislation is expected to proceed to Governor Jay Inslee (D) for his signature once it receives the final Senate nod.

The proposed legislation wouldn’t immediately allow interstate cannabis commerce. Instead, it would grant the governor the authority to enter into agreements with other legal states only if there’s a federal law change permitting the interstate transfer of cannabis or if the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) issues an opinion allowing or tolerating marijuana commerce across state lines. Representative Sharon Wylie (D), who supports the bill, argued that this is a small but proactive step in preparing for potential federal action when the state legislature may not be in session.

Washington State is following in the footsteps of its West Coast neighbors, Oregon and California, which have already enacted similar laws. California’s law, however, also allows the state’s attorney general to trigger the policy change through a legal opinion absent any new federal moves. In fact, earlier this year, state regulators requested that Attorney General Rob Bonta’s (D) office prepare such guidance.

According to Rep. Wylie, this legislation levels the playing field with other states while ensuring that vendors and licensees are well-informed about developments in their industry. Under the bill, if either of the two federal conditions are met, state regulators would be required to provide written notice of the federal policy change, as well as any state-level statutory changes necessary to authorize the sale, delivery, and receipt of cannabis from out-of-state companies. Additionally, regulators would need to adopt necessary rules for marijuana imports and exports, with the authority to enter agreements with other states resting in the governor’s hands.

Furthermore, products imported from out-of-state businesses would need to comply with Washington regulations, including those related to packaging and labeling. This provision ensures that cannabis products entering the Washington market adhere to the state’s high standards and promote consumer safety.

In conclusion, the passage of this legislation in Washington State signals a potentially significant shift in the cannabis industry, as more states push for greater cooperation and cross-border commerce in the rapidly evolving marijuana market. By proactively addressing the possibility of federal changes, lawmakers are setting the stage for a more interconnected and robust legal cannabis landscape in the United States. (Source)

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10 days ago

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