SB 5131 Advances to Gov. Inslee’s Desk for Signature

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

Most of this year’s proposed cannabis legislation in Washington never made it very far, but SB 5131 has succeeded in advancing to the final step before becoming law: Gov. Jay Inslee‘s desk. You can read the final version of SB 5131 here.

SB 5131, passed both the Washington State House of Representatives by a unanimous vote on March 7th and Senate April 11, 74 yeas to 24 nays. The two legislative houses passed slightly different versions, which was reconciled through a conference committee made up of officials from both houses.

The Committee finished its work on April 19th, and the final bill passed both houses of the legislature on April 20th. Fitting that they managed to sneak through a cannabis bill on the doobiest holiday around, 4/20.

The final barrier to becoming law is up to the governor. The bill was sent to the governor on April 23rd, and he may sign it into law, veto it, or veto part of it. When asked for comment, Governor Inslee’s office declined to take any official position on the bill, but also did not give any indication that a veto is likely. If you would like to express your support or opposition to any part of the bill you can contact Governor Inslee’s office directly.

The governor may veto portions of the bill, which could result in significant changes to SB 5131, but, as it stands, the following Washington Cannabis regulations appear likely:

[All references are prospective references to the language enacted by SB 3151 and will not take effect unless signed into law.]

Advertising Changes:

  • Outdoor billboard advertisements may only be used by retail establishments and may only display the retailer’s name, nature of the business, and provide directions to the retailer’s location. (RCW 69.50.369(7))
  • Other than retail billboards and store signage, most outdoor advertisements are banned. (RCW 69.50.369(2)-(3))
  • Reinstates limitations on the size and number of signs attached to retail building facades–retailers will be allowed only two signs no larger than 1,600 sq. in. (RCW 69.50.369(2))
  • No licensee may use transit advertisements (RCW 69.50.369(2))
  • Prohibits outdoor advertisements utilizing human or human-like mechanisms, including sign twirlers, people wearing sandwich board signs, mascots, or people dressed in costume. (RCW 69.50.369(6))
  • Advertising targeted to youth by use of objects or characters that are appealing to children are prohibited.(RCW 69.50.369(6))
  • Print advertisements must include a disclaimer that cannabis may only be purchased by people 21 years old or older.(RCW 69.50.369(5))
  • No licensee may target advertisements to those outside of the state. (RCW 69.50.369(4))
  • Grants the WSLCB authority to regulate any outdoor advertising of licensees.(RCW 69.50.369(7))
  • Outdoor advertisements may not depict marijuana plants, marijuana products, or images that are appealing to children. (RCW 69.50.369(7))
  • Retail billboards are limited to the following information: Name of business, nature of business, and directions to the store. (RCW 69.50.369(7)(b))
  • Exempts outdoor advertisements at events that only allow adults from most advertising restrictions (RCW 69.50.369(7)(e))
  • Allows local governments to enact outdoor advertising regulations that are more restrictive than state law.(RCW 69.50.369(11))
  • Authorizes cannabis businesses to enter into licensing agreements related to goods and services related to trademarks, trade names, trade secrets, technology, or other proprietary information. All agreements or contracts entered into under this provision must be disclosed to the WSLCB. (New Section to be added to RCW 69.50)
  • Trade secrets, technology, proprietary information, and financial considerations contained in any contract disclosed to the WSLCB are exempt to Public Records Requests. (RCW 42.56.270(28))
  • Marijuana regulations adopted by the WSLCB must be at least as restrictive as those applied to tobacco products.

Medical Marijuana:

  • Authorizes licensed producers to sell immature plants, clones, and seeds to medical marijuana patients and designated providers. (RCW 69.50.325(1))
  • Authorizes qualifying patients and designated providers who are registered in the medical marijuana authorization database to purchase immature plants and clones from a licensed marijuana producer. (New Section to be added to RCW 69.51A)
  • Cooperatives may buy seeds from a licensed cannabis producer. (RCW 69.51A.250(1))
  • Allows adult individuals to share limited quantities of marijuana products with other adults, provided that the sharing is purely a noncommercial gift with no expectation of payment in any form.((RCW 69.50.4013(4))
  • Authorizes marijuana delivery of up to 1/2 ounce of usable marijuana, 8 ounces of solid infused products, 36 ounces of liquid infused product, or 3 1/2 grams of concentrates so long as: ((RCW 69.50.4013(4))
    • Delivery is noncommercial (i.e., no money changing hands)
    • Delivery person is at least 21 years old
    • Recipient is at least 21 years old
    • Delivery is made in a private location, such as a home, OR the product is in its original packaging and purchased from a licensed cannabis retailer

Licensing Changes:

  • Allows cannabis retail store owners to own up to five stores. (RCW 60.50.325(3)(b))
  • Requires the WSLCB to give tribes and port authorities the same legal notices and rights given to towns, cities, and counties concerning pending and issued licenses. (RCW 69.50.331(7))
  • Prohibits the WSLCB to issue licenses for licensees located in Indian country without the prior concent of the federally recognized tribe associated with that location.(RCW 69.50.331(8)(e))
  • Eliminates the competitive, merit-based application process for retail licenses (RCW 69.50.331(1))
  • Revokes a retail license for any licensee that fails to open a retail store within a specified window after the license issued. The window is not less than 9 months and not more than 24 months, and should not include delays caused by local government action such as a local moratorium or zoning ordinance. (RCW 60.50.325(3)(c))

Miscellaneous Changes:

  • WSLCB may establish rules for marijuana donated to research licensees (RCW 69.50.372(5)-(6))
  • Creates a self-sustaining and voluntary program for the certification and regulation of organic cannabis products, to be administered by the WSDA. (New Section)
  • Decriminalizes delivery, distribution, and sale of immature plants or clones to research licensees (RCW 60.50.366(3))
  • Defines “Immature plant or clone” as “a plant or clone that has no flowers, is less than twelve inches in height, and is less than twelve inches in diameter.” (RCW 69.50.101(p))
  • Department of Agriculture and WSLCB should “collaboratively study the feasibility and practicality” of industrial hemp. (New Section, to be added to RCW 15.120)
  • WSLCB must conduct a study of the regulatory options for the legalization of home grow by recreational cannabis users and present their written findings to the legislature by December 1, 2017. (New Section 24)

Check back to this page regularly for updates on legislative developments of SB 5131 and other cannabis legislation.