The City of Seattle will once again push for legal marijuana delivery but this time for the entire state.
Expected to be introduced in Olympia within days, the legislation would allow pot deliveries across Washington but with restrictions on transport and branding. Last year, a city-backed bill to allow a pilot program for pot delivery in Seattle failed in the state legislature.
This year’s effort, written by City Attorney Pete Holmes‘ staff, attempts to removes the barriers to last year’s Seattle-centric bill while casting delivery as a boon to both public safety and pot tourism. Holmes said this is the next logical step in the legal marijuana industry and it potentially solves one public safety problem immediately.
“We know that people do drink and drive and smoke and drive and anything we can do to encourage them not to do that is harm reduction,” he said, adding that it also allows house-bound users access to medical marijuana and boosts sales for pot stores. “When you have visitors from out of town without private transportation, this is very much a marijuana tourism enhancing measure.”
Last year’s city-backed measure, HB 2368, would have limited deliveries to Seattle and to five registered marijuana retailers within city limits. Holmes said the legislative effort to carve that bill as narrow as possible left it nearly without substance.
He said this year’s bill, which lacks a number and a sponsor so far, should have enough broad, bipartisan appeal to move ahead and remove existing prohibitions against marijuana delivery.
Washington voters approved the legal sale of marijuana in 2012 but the initiative didn’t legalize delivery. Still, the industry grew to $1 billion in annual sales and unofficial delivery services popped up, so much so that Best Marijuana Delivery in Seattle became a subcategory on Yelp.
Holmes, who said he’s pressed charges against some of the illegal delivery drivers, said the new bill offers both limits and needed robbery protections for drivers: No bicycle delivery and no pot shop-branded cars.
“You don’t want these guys to be like a Domino’s Pizza car – as an easy mark,” he said. “One of the things that we specified is that it not be bicycle delivery, (but) be a vehicle delivery and that it not be really branded and not carry a lot of cash and product with them.”
An aide for Rep. Cary Condotta, the Chelan Republican who co-sponsored last year’s legislation, said the lawmaker has not yet been approached about sponsorship and that he declined to speculate on the bill’s future before its formal introduction and final language.
Benton Strong, Mayor Ed Murray’s spokesman, confirmed that the mayor’s office expects the legislation to be introduced in Olympia within two weeks.