The state of Washington was one of the first to legalize cannabis for adult consumers – but they are still working on legislation that will hopefully improve the industry. The proposed bill is intended to help smaller-scale farms that produce medical-quality cannabis to stay in business and compete against the larger growers in the state. The Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board sent out draft legislation this week to members of the state’s marijuana industry looking for input; one of the proposals would create guidelines for delivery, but only for smaller businesses.
“If I was able to deliver, that could save my business,” said Aaron Juhl, owner of Funky Farms, a small-scale farm in Deer Park. “But the medically compliant thing, the testing for that is so stringent and so expensive that it’s really hard to work around.”
Larger growers feel it is unfair that these small businesses would get this advantage – but, for many small businesses in this industry it can be hard to keep up with the necessary requirements and fees. This is especially true in states like Washington where medical cannabis is subject to additional testing that can be expensive and cumbersome for small farms to keep up with.
“It’s to give them a leg up,” Smith said of the smaller-scale producers that the new legislation would apply to.
How it would work is that home delivery would be an option for “tier 1” marijuana producers in the state – which means they are limited to 2,000 square feet of growing space. To be approved for home delivery, these businesses would require approval from their local governments at the town/city and county levels. The same bill would also allow businesses to offer sales directly from the farm, as well as the opportunity to come together with other small businesses to open “common retail locations” that would only be open a couple of days each month.
The second bill that was introduced addresses another concern that small farms in the industry have brought up before – namely, funding options like grants and interest-free or low-interest loans. This proposed law would set aside $100,000 each year from legal cannabis tax revenue to be used for “technical assistance grants” to support small businesses that are launching as a part of the license diversity initiative which aims to give more people a chance at starting their business.
For the time being, state regulators are accepting comments on the legislation through September 5 and intend to submit the draft legislation to Governor Inslee later in the month. Though the bills will not get consideration until the 2020 legislative session, this gives them time to get the opinions of those working directly in the industry.