New law prepares Washington for interstate cannabis sales

The Legislature approved SB 5069 to allow state companies to enter import/export compacts with other states once weed is legalized nationwide.

Vice President of Black Excellence in Cannabis Mike Asai testifies

Mike Asai, vice president of Black Excellence in Cannabis, testifies in opposition to SB 5069, which would allow for interstate cannabis sales, during a Senate hearing on Feb. 10, 2023. (Courtesy of TVW)

Washington is ready to enter the interstate marketplace for cannabis products, when and if the federal government decides to legalize marijuana.

The Legislature approved Senate Bill 5069 to allow state companies to enter marijuana import/export compacts with other states immediately after Congress makes the move. The bill passed the House on March 1 and the Senate on April 12, both with bipartisan support.

“If we are not prepared to commit on a nationwide scale, we are going to be left in the dust,” bill sponsor Sen. Ann Rivers, R-La Center, told Crosscut.

Currently, 39 states and Washington, D.C., have legalized medical cannabis and 21 states and Washington, D.C., have legalized recreational marijuana. Several measures have been proposed in Congress to legalize it, or to remove the possession and sale of marijuana from federal laws that make it a felony. 

Another cannabis bill that passed the Legislature was Senate Bill 5080, aimed at racial inequity. The measure prioritizes reissuing expired, revoked or never-issued marijuana licenses to low-income areas and areas with high unemployment. Priorities would also be given to applicants who have lived in those areas at least five years and who might be low-income.

A bill to prohibit employers from discriminating against job applicants because they use marijuana in their personal time, Senate Bill 5123, also passed the Legislature. The bill makes exceptions for people who work in some industries, including some law enforcement jobs. A proposal to establish a new cannabis commission, Senate Bill 5546, did not make it. 

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