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Cannabis-related proposals appear on this legislative session's agenda

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With a new legislative session comes new proposals for Washington state lawmakers to consider. Among those proposals are a handful that deal with the cannabis industry. Here's a look at the seven cannabis-related bills:

HB 2347: This bill would cut the state's excise tax on cannabis, currently 37 percent, to 25 percent. Money received from excise taxes goes to education, parks, health-related services and the state's general fund, and some worry that the high excise tax is driving buyers to the black market. The bill's sponsors hope that any potential loss in marijuana-related taxes (which totaled $67.5 million last year) will be made up by customers turning from the black market to licensed stores.

HB 2368: This bill would create a pilot program to give the OK to five licensed marijuana retailers to deliver pot to residents in cities with populations of 650,000 or more (sorry, Spokane). Opponents say delivery services would take customers from licensed stores and taxes from the state. If approved, the pilot program would expire in July 2019.

SB 6206: If this bill is passed, hemp — cannabis with less than 0.3 percent THC — would become regulated like its marijuana counterpart as a product that can be "grown, produced, possessed, and commercially traded in the state," according to bill sponsors. The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Control Board regulates marijuana, but there is no group currently regulating hemp. This bill would give that duty to the Department of Agriculture.

HB 2365: This bill would allow state-licensed recreational shops to sell "wearable apparel" to advertise their business. The board would regulate the merchandise, and apparel appealing to minors will still be banned.

HB 2364: This bill, similar to a revised rule mentioned in a previous Green Zone article, would allow out-of-state investors to enter the cannabis market. In addition, this bill would allow cannabis businesses to be structured as LLCs, limited liability corporations.

SB 6207: This bill would help business owners keep sensitive information they've submitted to the board regarding their business licensing and the tracking of cannabis hush-hush by broadening the type of information that's exempt from public disclosure laws.

SB 6177: Perhaps the most exciting proposal of the bunch, this bill would simplify the research application process regarding cannabis by removing the Life Sciences Discovery Fund from the current application process and replacing it with a "scientific reviewer," which includes educational or research institutions, peer review groups, or science or research-based organizations, as designated by the board, opening the door to more cannabis-related studies.♦

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