April 1, 2016

House Government Operations and Judiciary Hear More Marijuana Testimony

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Montpelier (Mar 30) – “The idea of legalization is different in concept than when it’s happening down the street from you,” Candace Block from the Association of Washington Cities testified before a joint meeting of the House Judiciary Committee and the House Government Operations Committee. She testified via phone from Washington to discuss the effects legalization has had on her state.

 

Block reminded the committees that marijuana possession became legal in Washington state in November 2011, but retail facilities have only been around since July 2014 – this is still new for them as well. She emphasized that Washington has an unregulated medical marijuana market, which sometimes leads to competition between recreational businesses and medicinal.

 

Block cited research that shows a slight uptick in impaired driving and an increase in calls to the Poison Control Hotline. She stated that 15% of the calls were involving cases of children under 18 ingesting edibles. She added that the legalization of recreational use has changed youth attitude toward the drug – they view it as more acceptable.

 

Out of the 281 cities in Washington, 75 have banned marijuana retailers and 16 have imposed temporary bans. Block also reminded the committees that because Washington legalized by popular vote, there was not a lot of state input involved in the logistics.

 

Donna Sweaney, the chair of House Government Operations, pointed out that the legislature is crafting the bill to try to avoid some of the negative outcomes that Washington has seen (edibles are not permitted under S.241).

 

The two committees will continue to hear testimony this upcoming week.

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