Join us for Part IV of this multipart interview series where we dive into the complexities of state cannabis grow laws with the non-profit, Cannabis Patients Pacific Northwest.
In Part IV, Cannabis Patients Pacific Northwest co-founders Jeremy Robbins and David Benedicktus provide insights into the medical cannabis laws, taxes, and other obstacles patients in the Pacific Northwest must navigate to access their medication, plus the challenges and rewards of methods of at-home cultivation.
Catch up on past interviews or watch the whole series!
Read a partial transcription of the interview below.
Madeline Colli: Can you tell us about the Washington cannabis laws? Are you able to cultivate cannabis at home?
Jeremy Robbins:20 years ago when I got my first cannabis card, I asked my doctor if he knew anywhere where I could get seeds or clones or any medicine and he just laughed. He said, “that's all up to you. I just signed this thing and I don't know anything else about it.” So yeah, there's something to be said for that, you know, doctors don't have much liability in the medical cannabis space. They sign these things and that's kind of it. In Washington State, you are able to if you receive a medical cannabis authorization that right there. You were able to cultivate four plants.
David Benedicktus: If you’re 21 and over!
Robbins: Yes, 21 and over! All you have to do is get that script signed by a medical professional, and you can cultivate four plants. If you want to grow 15 plants, you have to get that signed by your medical professional, they have to put the 15 plants on it and then you have to go to one of those medically endorsed recreational dispensaries, and you have to have them enter you into the Washington State Department of Health Registry system and they will then give you a registry card. That registries card then gives you the ability to cultivate 15 plants. Some places you know, Minnesota just legalized and they have a home grow law, where anybody can cultivate four plants and keep for juveniles. Here in Washington State, we don't have a home grow law. So nobody can. You can only grow if you have a medical permit and it does not have the designations of how many plants can be flowering and how many plants can be juveniles.
For me I primarily do outdoor growing. I just throw down 15 plants in my backyard, and I've been doing that for at least 12 years. It gives me the ability to produce quite a bit of biomass. I am an intermediate grower. I kind of know what I'm doing. There's always little, little surprises along the way. But I end up with quite a bit of weed at the end of the season. And so, what that does is that gives me the ability to take care of people so I'm still a caregiver. I give away four ounces of cannabis a month, every month. Pretty much all year long. I have a couple of patients. It's free weed. I recently was talking to someone online, who's involved in an autism support group that uses cannabis and they are paying $100 for seven grams. Yeah, that blew me away and they don't live in a place where they can produce it and/or have caregivers. It's really challenging financially for a lot of these folks. Anyway, so yeah, I grow, I'm also a caregiver and a patient, and so my growing practices are organic. I use primarily topdress products, some fungi, and things like that, but it's all organic and so I produce organically in cannabis. That is potent, is terpene rich, is beautiful, and I really enjoy growing. Not only is it a hobby but it is actually therapy. When I broke my neck, they put me in something called horticulture therapy and believe it or not in that little hospital room, they had all these grow lights. I wouldn't be lying to you if I thought “by god I wonder if I can grow cannabis right here with these fluorescent lights.” Anyway, that's really, it's been a great, great hobby for me. It's also given me the ability to share how I grow from a wheelchair with other wheelchair growers and they may or may not be cultivating cannabis. We all have adaptions that we have to use to grow things, raised beds, containers, using Reacher's, and other sorts of tools that are out there. There really is kind of a whole different set of skills that you that you need to develop if you want to be a wheelchair grower.