This morning state representatives voted 6-3 to approve to change the state's definition of marijuana in order to help state prosecutors prove marijuana-related cases in court. The vote on HB 2056 took place during an emergency meeting of the House Government Accountability and Oversight committee, during which county prosecutors argued that it was nearly impossible to prove what was marijuana in a crime lab or court.
You see, last year's passage of Initiative 502 defined "marijuana" as all parts of the marijuana plant "with a THC concentration greater than three percent on a dry weight basis." Anything with less THC content, as Ben Livingston notes in this week's paper, is simply considered unregulated cannabis. However, today prosecutors argued that the definition didn't take into account the total concentration of THC in a plant—both the psychoactive THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and the lesser-known THCA (tetrahydro cannabinolic acid), which converts to THC with heat. That means that some plants with a high total THC concentration didn't meet the definition of marijuana, prosecutors explained.
HB 2056, which was drafted by the Washington Prosecutors Association, changes the definition of marijuana to include this total THC count when determining whether a substance is marijuana. I have a call in to Alison Holcomb, an ACLU lawyer who drafted I-502, to find out her take on the change.
Now that the bill's passed out of committee, legislators are looking for leadership pull it to the floor for a vote before the regular session ends on April 28.