Marijuana and Cannabis News

Governor Worried About Raids On Bureaucrats, But Not Patients
By Steve Elliott ~alapoet~ in Dispensaries, Legislation, News
Thursday, April 28, 2011 at 11:20 am
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Photo: The Reagan Wing
Washington Governor Christine Gregoire seems to be wavering between a partial veto and a full veto of a medical marijuana dispensary bill passed by the Legislature last week.

"I'm looking at it only with what I can save," Gregoire said at a news conference on Wednesday. "Not whether I will sign it."

SB 5073 would license storefront dispensaries and grow operations, and protect registered patients from arrest, reports Andrew Garber at the Seattle Times.

But the governor indicated the bill would not survive in its present form.

"I cannot and will not subject state employees to criminal prosecution at the federal level," Gregoire said, despite the fact that no state employees have ever been subjected to federal prosecution in any medical marijuana state.

"I think that would be highly irresponsible on my part," she said, not mentioning how irresponsible it is to leave thousands of seriously ill patients with no safe access.

Gregoire was referring to state employees who would collect fees or inspect and audit dispensaries and producers under the bill.

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Photo: Joel Sanders
Lee Rosenberg: "As a result of the governor's veto, a slowly emerging medical marijuana industry that wants to operate legally, pay taxes, and adhere to state regulations is now preparing for armed raids on their establishments"
​"As a result of the governor's expected veto, a slowly emerging medical marijuana industry that wants to operate legally, pay taxes, and adhere to state regulations is now preparing for armed raids of their establishments," wrote political commentator Lee Rosenberg at Horses Ass.

"Gregoire, as it turned out, fabricated a controversy to argue that if state employees issued the dispensary licenses, they could be held criminally liable (even though other states license dispensaries, none of those state employees have been prosecuted, and federal policy and procedure on medical pot hasn't changed)," wrote Dominic Holden at The Stranger. "Gregoire's speculation is unfounded, but that's her argument."

"In doing so, Gregoire would guarantee that these dispensaries remain out of compliance with state law, and thus, Gregoire is inviting federal raids on sick people and their care providers," Holden wrote. "So in order to avoid a fake specter of something unrealistic happening (feds busting state employees), she is welcom[ing] a real, consequential set of raids on some of the most vulnerable people in the state."

"I don't even know that I could implement the law," the governor said, because two U.S. Attorneys in the state have warned -- after being "asked for direction" by the governor, mind you -- that state workers could be subject to federal prosecution, despite the 2009 policy statement from the Obama Department of Justice that patients and providers (let alone state employees) wouldn't be federal targets.

"If I ask state employees to do it, I don't know that they'd volunteer," Gregoire fibbed. "I wouldn't. So I don't expect any state employee to volunteer. Therefore I can't implement it."

Gregoire claimed there were certain aspects of the bill -- such as arrest protection for patients -- that she'd like to save, if possible.

"I think we need a registry to prevent arrest of medical patients," she said.

The governor didn't mention what would keep federal agents from raiding everyone on the state medical marijuana registry -- in fact, if her concerns about federal raids on state employees are real, why doesn't she seem at all concerned about federal raids on patients?

Meanwhile, Washington patients and providers are battening down the hatches and preparing for federal raids -- thanks to the hen-hearted non-leadership from the governor's office.



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