Policy Recommendations Washington

2019-2020 Improvements and Recommendations for Washington

The 2019 legislative session saw a suite of new medical cannabis laws designed to benefit the state's registered patient population. Included in these measures was legislation exempting qualifying cannabis patients from in-person physical examinations in order to renew their annual registration, as well as a measure allowing patients to consume cannabis products on school grounds, school buses and at school events.

The state also passed legislation to align Washington's hemp program with the 2018 Farm Bill, which transitioned the national hemp pilot production program into a permanent program under the USDA. Comprehensive regulations for a state-governed commercial hemp program will benefit patients by improving the diversity of hemp-derived CBD products and associated product testing regime to ensure product quality and patient safety standards are met.

Washington maintained patient access during COVID by authorizing medical cannabis businesses to continue operating, and permitted preordering and curbside pickup. The state already had provisions in place allowing patient evaluations to be conducted via telehealth. ASA recommends permanently maintaining COVID temporary rules.

ASA urges Washington lawmakers to take up legislation proposed by the Liquor and Cannabis Control Board that would redistribute unused or retired medical retail licences to increase the number of locations for patients to access. Another bill ASA hopes lawmakers can take up in 2021 would allow tier-one cultivators to sell medical-grade cannabis directly to registered state patients. Such a measure could expand medical cannabis availability for patients.