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Cultivating Compliance with Changing Approaches to Marijuana Regulation in Washington

In 2016, Washington State received the fourth-largest amount of funding from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) for marijuana eradication nationwide, according to DEA financial documents cited in a recent Seattle Time article. While eradication funding in Washington has decreased since marijuana was legalized in 2012, the DEA’s Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program in Washington highlights the divergent priorities of federal and state officials regarding the future of marijuana locally and around the country. While local managers assert that the eradication program is designed to target organized crime illegally cultivating marijuana on public lands, oftentimes legitimate cultivation can find itself in law enforcement’s crosshairs. As the DEA continues to seek out illegal large-scale grow operations, others have begun to question the necessity of such costly efforts which take funding away from other government programs.

The federal government’s permissive view of recreational marijuana cultivation and distribution in Washington State, memorialized in the Cole Memorandum, could be revisited by the incoming Trump administration, generating increased uncertainty for local industry.

McKay Chadwell understands the complexities of the marijuana industry in Washington and can assist clients with licensing, regulatory, forfeiture, and criminal cases involving cultivation and distribution.