Washington state considers allowing residents to grow recreational pot at home

SEATTLE (KCPQ) — They are trading green for green and reaching new heights when it comes to pot sales in Washington.

By 2020, the state could see $2.4 billion in marijuana sales annually.

But depending on what happens in the Legislature, you may no longer have to go to retail shops for pot. The state is studying the possibility of allowing recreational pot sales at home.

Sales are up across Washington with Seattle stores at number one followed by Tacoma. But the black market is still thriving.

“The state system hasn’t captured probably more than 55% of the total market out there,” marijuana advocate John Kingsbury said.

The black market is one big reason Kingsbury says every adult should be allowed to grow pot at home.

“An indoor plant can yield anywhere from 3 to 8 ounces; you can get it higher if you’re a good gardener,” Kingsbury said.

RELATED: Health benefits of marijuana

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Health benefits of marijuana

1. Parkinson's 

Cannabis has been found to help slow tremors and pain in Parkinson's patients. According to Medical News Today, the compounds in marijuana help to "reduce the effects of reduced dopamine in the brain". 

A study conducted by Israeli scientists found smoking marijuana helped reduce these tremors. "We not only saw improvement in tremor in these patients, but also in rigidity and in bradykinesia," said researcher Ruth Djaldetti.

Furthermore, marijuana has been found to slow the progression of Parkinson's because of its antioxidant qualities. 

2. Glaucoma 

The American Academy of Ophthalmology describes glaucoma as a condition in which the optic nerve is damaged over long periods of time. It can limit vision and sometimes lead to blindness. 

The link between glaucoma and marijuana has been studied since the 1970s, as smoking marijuana has been found to lower eye pressure. Doctors are working on ways to elongate the effects of marijuana. 

It has been speculated that smoking the drug can slow the progression of the disease. 

3. Chemo patients

There has been extensive research on the benefits of cannabis and chemotherapy patients. The "wonder drug", as it is hailed, does miracles for cancer patients. 

According to Dr. Donald Abrams, marijuana "is the only anti-nausea medicine that increases appetite.”

The American Cancer Society claims that the drug can also lower pain, reduce inflammation and calm anxieties of not just chemo patients, but patients suffering from a chronic illness or disease. 

Scientists have found that cannabinoids, one of the many chemical compounds found in the plant, can inhibit tumor growth. It was particularly effective in the inhibition of colon cancer. 

4. Alzheimer's

According to an article published by CNN Health, marijuana may be beneficial for Alzheimer's patients. It was found that THC, an ingredient in cannabis, blocks inflammation in the brain and "stimulates the removal of toxic plaque". 

Marijuana has also been used to help dementia patients. Author and doctor David Casarett told CNN, "I spoke to many family members of people with mild or moderate dementia who believed that THC or whole-plant marijuana was effective in alleviating the confusion and agitation that sometimes occurs."

5. Skin Diseases 

It is widely known that marijuana possesses antiinflammatory benefits, helpful to patients who suffer from arthritis and cancer, amongst many others.

A study published by the University of Colorado found that using the drug topically can alleviate pain and "may be effective against eczema, psoriasis, atopic and contact dermatitis. More and more dermatologists are encouraging the use of cannabinoid cream. 

6. Stroke victims 

Cannabis and stroke victims is an interesting topic of study for many researchers, some of whom contend the drug can "shrink" the damaged area of the brain. 

Doctors, who tested the drug on mice, rats and monkeys, believe the chemical "shows promise as a neuroprotective treatment for stroke”, according to the Huffington Post.

7. PTSD

Advocates have argued that marijuana can provide immense relief for patients, specifically veterans, who suffer from PTSD. In states like New Mexico, "medical marijuana is legally prescribed for PTSD". 

A study conducted by the University of Haifa fond that marijuana helped block the "development" and progression of PTSD in rats. But, researchers explain, that there is a critical window of what marijuana can do. 

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And that’s the kind of information the state is now seeking.

“Have there been problems in other states? Is that something we can do,” state Rep. Shelley Kloba, D-Kirkland, said.

Kloba says of the eight states where marijuana is now legal, Washington is the only place that does not allow people to grow recreational pot at home.

“One option would be a very tightly controlled, regulated way,” Kloba said.

The state is toying with the idea of allowing people to grow up to four plants at home.  If each of those plants yields 3 ounces, for example, one retailer told Q13 News, that’s equal to about $1,800 in sales on average.

So home grows could potentially eat away profits in a budding industry but many in the marijuana business say money isn’t the main concern.

“The concept of home grows as currently proposed is something we don’t see in alignment with the priorities of keeping cannabis out of the hands of minors,” Washington CannaBusiness Association spokesperson Aaron Pickus said.

The association represents about 70 marijuana companies from seed to sale. They not only worry about minors but what the federal government will do if the state loosens regulations.

“The current regulatory system is the best approach,” Pickus said.

The Liquor and Cannabis board is seeking opinions from the public and will turn in their findings to lawmakers on December 1.

Q13 News asked Kloba how she would vote on the issue.

“You know, I have to tell you I don’t have enough information at this point in time,” Kloba said.

Kloba is torn but if you ask Kingsbury, it’s an absolute yes to home grows but not under the current proposal.

Kingsbury says four plants are not enough and the regulations proposed to trace the grows are too strict. He says 15 plants should be the limit -- that’s how many a medical marijuana patient can grow in Washington right now.

He says growing marijuana is hard.

“It requires money, it requires skill -- you will have plant failures,” Kingsbury said.

But Kingsbury admits the grows could be a concern for some in the community. That’s why Kingsbury says home growers would need to keep themselves and their neighbors safe.

“It is incumbent on the person growing it that they have adequate security measures,” Kingsbury said.

Kingsbury says in his ideal world, the state would allow recreational pot grows and get rid of the medical program. He says the medical marijuana system is a failure and also too restrictive. He hopes the state will learn from the mistakes in the medical marijuana field and apply it to the recreational side.

The board is accepting emails until October 11 on this issue at rules@lcb.wa.gov.

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