Seeds of Change

A year after recreational marijuana stores opened, what has (and hasn't) changed?

What hasn't changed?

Most of the big no-nos haven't changed (i.e., don't give weed to the baby, don't bring weed to Idaho, don't smoke weed and drive).

But there's one that's less obvious: You still can't grow your own in Washington. Of the four states that have legalized marijuana, the Evergreen State is the only where home grows remain illegal.

Another thing that hasn't changed: Your boss can drug-test and fire you for consuming pot.

What has changed?

One of the biggest changes to the state's pot laws has been the Cannabis Patient Protection Act, which was signed by Gov. Jay Inslee this past spring. The new law is intended to rein in the largely unregulated medical market by merging it with the tightly regulated recreational market. Recreational businesses had complained that they were being undermined by shady medical dispensaries that were essentially black-market dealers hiding behind green crosses.

The law provides a process for medical dispensaries to prove they've been good actors and stay open, but many will be phased out by next year. Recreational stores can apply to serve the medical market. If approved, they'll carry medical marijuana products and be allowed to give advice to patients.

Other new pot laws allow the governor to enter into compacts with Indian tribes, letting them produce and sell cannabis; create research licenses for the drug; and establish PTSD and traumatic brain injuries as qualifying conditions for medical marijuana.

The legislature has passed a bill making it illegal to have an open container of marijuana in a vehicle, which is currently on the governor's desk.

In February, Spokane City Council passed an ordinance making it illegal to make your own butane hash oil. In case you're not familiar with it, it's a highly potent form of marijuana, and people have blown up their houses making their own. The new ordinance clarifies that if someone wants to make butane hash oil, they need professional-grade equipment that's been inspected and approved by the Fire Department.

But don't try going outside of city limits to make it. The legislature has now made it illegal for anyone but a licensed processor to use explosive gases to extract marijuana resin. ♦

Rafael Soldi: Mother Tongue @ EWU Gallery of Art

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