The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board is pushing a bill that would allow cannabis home delivery for licensed growers operating less than 2,000 square feet of cultivation space. The long-in-the-works proposal is seen as a shot in the arm for small business owners struggling to compete with larger companies in the crowded Washington marketplace. As oversupply has driven prices down, the board is seeking ways to boost licensed growers’ engagement with what quickly became a buyer’s market in Washington.

It is by no means a slam dunk.

As the Spokesman-Review reported, the legislation is being prepared for possible introduction in the 2020 session. Other options for spurring small farm growth include on-sites sales and some sort of mechanism for growers to join together and open a collective retail location.  

Cannabis delivery, on-site sales and a collective retail model are just a few pieces in a broader conversation about how to overhaul the Washington cannabis industry and course-correct for business development needs and patient/consumer access. “We’ve typically been so challenged with the issues of the day we haven’t been looking out long-term to determine what the future looks like,” Liquor and Cannabis Board Director Rick Garza told the Associated Press. 

Other components in that ongoing debate include social equity entrepreneurship and licensing, cultivation business growth (from small licensed farms to larger licensed farms) and a review of how Washington’s seed-to-sale tracking relationship with an Akerna Corp. subsidiary is panning out. The state may develop an audited tracking protocol in-house, Garza told the AP, describing some of the larger, more comprehensive moves the board is considering five years into the regulated market’s existence.

All of this makes 2020 an important year for the Washington cannabis market—and provides a look at how legal state markets develop over time. Washington and Colorado both kickstarted legal cannabis sales in January 2014; now, more than five years on, business owners and regulators have a better sense of what’s working and what’s not. Whether those two groups land on the same conclusions is another matter.

“If I was able to deliver, that could save my business,” Funky Farms owner Aaron Juhl told the Spokesman-Review. “But the medically compliant thing, the testing for that is so stringent and so expensive that it’s really hard to work around.”

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