Olympia: An extra long time for pot

The state House takes up marijuana legislation -- in a big way.
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Rep. Chris Hurst

The state House takes up marijuana legislation -- in a big way.

Pot. Pot. And more pot.

The Capitol Dome would be a pretty mellow place this week if all the expected speakers are allowed to smoke their weed during a two-day, monster hearing on marijuana legislation. The Washington House Commerce & Gaming Committee has crunched 18 marijuana regulatory bills into one piece of legislation.

Among other things, the bill would merge the state's strict recreational pot and loose medical marijuana systems under one regulatory set-up.

So, instead of the normal two-hour hearing for bills, the committee will hold a three-hour hearing beginning at 12:30 p.m. Monday in Olympia. The hearing will continue for another two hours beginning at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.

"It is intended that this be as broad a public discussion and debate as possible," said committee chairman Rep, Chris Hurst, D-Enumclaw, in a press release. "This will facilitate our process of crafting a unified public policy on the regulation of marijuana. That being said, I am confident that some form of many of the ideas contained in these 18 bills will in fact find a place in the final product."

In the Senate, Sens. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, and Ann Rivers, R-La Center, are working on combining their bills on a merger the recreational and medical marijuana systems. Those bills are still in the committee stages in the Senate. At some point, all this lawmaking will come together in one blissful moment of perfect political harmony – or not.

Here is what else is happening in Olympia in the upcoming week:

Tuesday will see hearings in the House Committee on State Government on a bill to eliminate Daylight Savings Time in Washington, and in the House Committee on Technology & Economic Development to demand a refund on tax breaks if an aluminum smelter shuts down.

Wednesday will see Senate Commerce & Labor Committee hearings on bills on setting up teen-oriented wages for training and summer employment that would be less than minimum wages for adults. And the Senate Energy, Environment & Telecommunications Committee will hear testimony about a bill to limit the Washington Department of Ecology's enforcement powers.

Thursday will see a House Committee on Agriculture & Natural Resources hearing on a bill on reviewing and upgrading the state's wolf management system.

Friday will bring a House Committee on Public Safety hearing on a bill that would allow police to seize vehicles and other property used by someone patronizing a prostitute to seek sex. 

But nothing is likely to light a fire like the pot discussions.


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About the Authors & Contributors

John Stang

John Stang

John Stang is a freelance writer who often covers state government and the environment. He can be reached on email at johnstang_8@hotmail.com and on Twitter at @johnstang_8