While Mascaro sees this as a state-controlled monopoly, officials see it as increased availability. “When we made the original rules back in 2008, there was no access except for patients to grow their own,” Weeks said. “[Now], people will be able to purchase from stores, grow in cooperative grows or grow at home, so there’s no longer a need for anyone to have 24 ounces at any given moment in time.”
Holmes, the city attorney, said he doesn’t think the three-ounce limit will be enforced on its own other than in cases where a crime has been committed. “It would have to be one of those circumstances akin to lightning striking twice at the same place,” Holmes said. “Where you’re actually in possession (of more than three ounces) and having given a level of suspicion to a law enforcement officer to have them search you. … I haven’t seen it as a practical limitation.”
Growing in a group will be more challenging for medical marijuana patients under the new regulations. The untracked, unregulated collective gardens are gone, but a way for patients to grow in small groups remains in the form of grow cooperatives.
The cooperatives are allowed a maximum of four patients — who are generally allowed to grow four plants each — but they must be registered with the state and cannot be within a mile of a marijuana store, a major challenge in places like Seattle. Some growers like Mascaro have already started to shrink their small collectives to personal grows. Some of those with big operations said they are more hesitant to downsize.
“I wish I could figure out how I could continue doing this (legally),” said one grower who feels her collective cannot be licensed because of prior arrests. “They just see that we were willing to break the law, so why would we suddenly be willing to comply with them?”
“I’m not taking this risk for you to resell it, I’m doing this to heal people,” she said. “If they [the state] are providing what we’re providing … if a patient can get quality, 20 [dollars]-per-gram RSO (Rick Simpson Oil, a medical marijuana extract), then I’ll quit.”
The state won’t actively be hunting for growers unless given a reason, said Justin Nordhorn, the Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board’s chief of enforcement. LCB employees won’t drive around looking for collective gardens, but will swiftly respond to complaints from citizens or retail stores, he said. “The likelihood of complaints coming in on a small operation are less than if you have a large operation that’s negatively impacting the community around you,” Nordhorn said.