Recently the State of Washington passed House Bill 2136. The provision of the bill that got the most attention was the revamping of the Washington marijuana tax structure. Previously recreational marijuana was taxed three different times along the process (25% x 3), however, the new legislation changed the tax to a one time tax of 37% at the point of purchase. A provision that didn’t get much attention until now is a ban on marijuana ‘clubs’ in Washington. Per the Inlander:
Marijuana clubs, a place where stoners can gather in a social setting, are now illegal in Washington state.
Tucked inside HB 2136, a bill hailed by the state’s marijuana industry as a way to make the heavy taxation it faces more palatable, is a provision that outlaws marijuana clubs.
The new law makes operating “a club, association, or other business, for profit or otherwise, that conducts or maintains a premises for the primary or incidental purpose of providing a
location where members or other persons may keep or consume marijuana on the premises” a class c felony.
The 2012 ballot measure that legalized marijuana in Washington prohibits the consumption of marijuana in public. A handful of establishments, such as the Members Lounge in Spokane Valley, have used legal loopholes to stay open. Ganja enthusiasts wanting to enter the lounge have to buy a membership, making the club a “private” not public setting. Members can bring their own marijuana or can obtain it at the lounge for a “donation” not a purchase.
Marijuana clubs are very popular in other states. I know where I live, in Oregon, they are all over the place. I think my favorite one would be a place called PGN in Keizer. It’s kind of like a rec hall for medical marijuana, complete with ping pong tables, karaoke night, and other forms of entertainment. And yes, they also sell cannabis. I think that’s the part that is concerning local officials in Washington State – that most of these clubs also sell cannabis, albeit they consider it a ‘donation’ not a for profit transaction. But as one of my friends once said, if cash walks in and cannabis walks out, regardless of what you name the transaction, there are going to be people that aren’t happy about it if it isn’t regulated for better or worse.