Washington medical marijuana patients might be able to grow cannabis at home when recreational sales begin after all, a move that could shake up the expected market for retail shops.
The state Liquor Control Board has signaled it will officially recommend that MMJ patients continue to be able to cultivate their own cannabis, rejecting proposals by three other government agencies that are lobbying for a complete ban on home growing as part of adult-use marijuana rules.
Under the liquor board plan, qualified patients and caregivers could grow up to six plants.
The final decision on this issue is extremely important for Washington marijuana businesses.
Hydroponics stores and companies that sell small-scale growing equipment could see sales fall if the state completely bans home cultivation, given that they derive a big share of business from individual growers now.
On the other side of the equation, a ban would benefit state-licensed retail shops, commercial cannabis grows and edibles companies by forcing everyone to buy marijuana. That could lead to tens of millions of additional dollars in sales for these companies.
The Liquor Control Board’s suggestion on home grows will carry a lot of weight with lawmakers, as the agency is developing the overall list of recommendations for marijuana rules and regulations. Board members will vote on the final list of recommendations this week and send them to the legislature by Jan. 1.
While lawmakers can change the recommendations, most of the major suggestions likely will stand.