Washington State House of Representatives Passes HB 1151

Written by Ammon J. Ford, Attorney at Gleam Law, PLLC. 

Washington State voters approved I-502 in 2013, mandating that the state allow and regulate cannabis businesses like alcohol businesses. The details were mostly left up to the Washington State Legislature to write and change, then to be interpreted and enforced by the Liquor and Cannabis Board. One of the most important restrictions placed on cannabis businesses was that the owners of a cannabis business are required to be Washington State residents. That may change very soon.

The Washington State House of Representatives voted today (2/7/18) to approve HB 1151. This bill’s narrow focus would change the residency requirement for cannabis entrepreneurs and allow non-resident out-of-state investors to own up to 25% of a Washington State licensed cannabis business. The bill, topping off at a brisk 7 pages, can be found here.

HB 1151 will now move to the Washington State Senate, where senators will have the opportunity to amend and vote on the bill. If it passes the Senate and is signed by Gov. Jay Inslee it will become law.

Regulatory changes like HB 1151 might seem small and unimportant to people outside the industry, but to those of us inside the industry, any change that makes it easier for cannabis businesses to grow and flourish is welcome news. Allowing out of state investors to directly own a piece of a cannabis business will make it easier to find investors and the often crucial funding or expertise that they can bring.

If you have an opinion for or against HB 1151, or any other bill currently being considered in Olympia, contact your representatives and let your voice be heard!