|Graphic: Emerald Herb|
A bill to expand Washington State’s medical marijuana law cleared the Legislature Thursday, and is headed to the governor’s desk.
Gov. Christine Gregoire is expected to sign SB 5798, which allows naturopathic doctors, nurse practitioners, and advanced physicians’ assistants to recommend the medical use of cannabis to their patients.
The new law will increase patient access to health care professionals willing to authorize medical cannabis.
Because of the conflict between state and federal pot laws, many doctors fear retribution from the federal government and are reluctant to sign medical cannabis paperwork. To comply with the law, many qualifying patients are forced to travel to the city and pay $200 to see a doctor willing to sign a medical marijuana authorization form.
Also included in the bill is a provision that requires medical cannabis authorizations written after June to be printed on “tamper-resistant” paper that will also be required for all prescription forms in the state.
SB 5798 was supported by the Cannabis Defense Coalition (CDC), a Seattle-based activist group that tracks medical marijuana prosecutions in Washington.
The group hired veteran lobbyist Lonnie Johns-Brown to move the bill forward this session.
“Cannabis is an effective, safe and natural medicine, said CDC spokesman Ben Livingston. “Patients with symptoms relieved by medical cannabis deserve the protection of our law, whether they see a regular doctor or a naturopathic physician. This bill will help increase access to this therapeutic, plant-based medicine.”
“Allowing responsible health care professionals to also recommend medical marijuana — a substance far safer and less addictive than many Schedule II opiates — simply make sense,” said Robert J. Capecchi, legislative analyst with the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP).
“Furthermore, many patients, especially those in rural areas, have limited access to physicians, so they receive their health care from other professionals, such as advanced practice registered nurses,” Capecchi said. “Access to a medical marijuana recommendation should not be limited only to those with access to a physician.”
Washington state residents are urged to take two minutes of their time to call the office of Gov. Chris Gregoire.
Ask that the Governor sign SB 5798 into law so that the sick and suffering of Washington can find the relief they deserve.
Be aware that you will not be speaking to the Governor herself, but her staffers will pass your message along.
As always, remember to be brief and respectful as we are trying to persuade Gov. Gregoire, not alienate her.
(It’s easy, folks; I called the the young lady I talked to was very nice. Just click on the link above and enter your zip code for the number and suggested talking points.)