Washington state votes to legalize interstate cannabis trade

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The Washington State Senate last week approved a bill to allow cannabis companies to engage in interstate commerce.

The measure, approved by a 40-8 vote, would give the governor the authority to enter into agreements with other U.S. states where cannabis is legal to allow imports and exports between licensed cannabis businesses.

“It’s no secret that Washington has been a leader in the cannabis industry,” Republican Senator Ann Rivers, the bill’s author, said ahead of the vote. “We have taken massive steps to ensure that the product made here is well framed, tested and of the highest quality. We know that federal legalization is coming. We have seen bills introduced and we have the impression that it is getting closer. »

But state industry “could be left in the dust if we are absent and unable to act” when federal law changes, she said. “So we can trust our governor to watch over this industry and ensure that goods can move from our state to other states and back to us in a legal, safe, and enforceable manner.” »

Under SB 5069, cannabis products from out-of-state businesses would be required to comply with Washington regulations, including packaging and labeling.

However, it would only go into effect under one of two conditions: 1) if federal law is amended “to permit the interstate transfer of cannabis” between lawful businesses, or 2) if the United States Department of Justice United States issues advisory “permitting or tolerating” cannabis trade between U.S. states.

If either of these conditions are met, state regulators will be required to provide written notification of the federal policy change, as well as any “statutory amendments necessary to authorize the sale, delivery, and receipt of cannabis” from companies outside the state. Regulators should also adopt the necessary rules for cross-border trade.

The governor of California signed a similar measure last year. Prior to that, Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed an interstate cannabis trade law into law in 2019.

On the other side of the country, the president of the New Jersey Senate tabled a similar proposal last year, but it has yet to be signed into law.

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