Legislature Set To Gut Washington’s Medical Marijuana Law


Photo: Jane Meets Jane
The Washington Legislature is on the verge of gutting the state’s medical marijuana law, approved by voters in 1998. It’s time to make a phone call.

​Here’s What You Can Do
The Washington Legislature started this session with a very good medical marijuana dispensary bill which would have finally provided safe access and arrest protection for patients, 13 years after voters legalized the medicinal use of cannabis in the state.
You’ll notice I said “started this session,” because the bill is no longer a good thing. In fact, as currently amended, the bill has sadly turned into an enormous negative for the medical marijuana community. 
“In its current state, the bill is set to gut our voter-approved medical cannabis law,” said Ben Livingston of the Seattle-based patient advocacy group Cannabis Defense Coalition.

Graphic: CDC

​Livingston is right. As happens all too often, some anti-marijuana lawmakers cynically saw this as a chance to weaken the very patient protections this bill was designed to strengthen.
Senate Bill 5073 passed the Senate last week, was introduced in the House, and referred to the Health Care and Wellness Committee. The committee is expected to vote on the bill soon.
CDC urges Washington state residents to contact committee members by phone and urge them to do three things:
1. Provide real arrest protection — now, not later! This bill provides arrest protection only to patients in a government database — which is years away from completion. Ridiculous! Fix: Combine sections 401 and 402 so patients who present valid documentation to law enforcement are protected from arrest.
2. Stop attacking doctors! Section 301 of the bill places several chilling restrictions on health care professionals that authorize the medical use of cannabis. Fix: Section 301, strike everything from 2a onward.
3. Don’t outlaw collective growing! Under current law, patients can grow together. Don’t limit collective grows to three patients. Fix: Section 403, increase the number of patients and plants allowed in a collective grow.
These are the Health Care and Wellness Committee members you need to call:
Eileen Cody (D) 360-786-7978
Laurie Jinkins (D) 360-786-7930
Joe Schmick (R) 360-786-7844
Bill Hinkle (R) 360-786-7808
Barbara Bailey (R) 360-786-7914
Judy Clibborn (D) 360-786-7926
Tami Green (D) 360-786-7958
Paul Harris (R) 360-786-7976
Troy Kelley (D) 360-786-7890
Jim Moeller (D) 360-786-7872
Kevin Van De Wege (D) 360-786-7916
Example script:
“Hi, my name is Rob McKenna and I would like to ask Representative Cody for amendments to SB 5073, the medical cannabis bill being considered by the Health Care committee.
“Most importantly, the bill needs to provide real arrest protection for patients, not just those who register in a government database which is years away from completion. This can be accomplished by combining sections 401 and 402 so patients who present valid documentation to law enforcement are protected from arrest.
“Second, section 301 infringes on the rights of health care professionals, and everything from section 2a onward should be removed.
“And finally, under current law patients can grow together. Section 403, which is supposed to make that practice clearly legal, now effectively outlaws collective grows. The number of patients allowed in a collective grow should be increased.”
Overview of the 55 sections of SB 5073
Before criticizing SB 5073, it helps to know what’s in the bill. Here is a simple overview of the 55 sections of SB 5073.
Section 101. Legislative intent.
Section 102. Original intent.
Section 103. Replace “marijuana.”
Section 201. Definitions.
Section 301. Anti-protections for health care professionals. 
Section 401. Arrest protection for state-registered patients.
Section 402. Affirmative defense for qualified patients.
Section 403. Collective gardens.
Section 404. Designated providers.
Section 405. Affirmative defense for over 15 plants, 24 ounces.
Section 406. Affirmative defense for those that don’t present paperwork.
Section 407. Affirmative defense for non-residents.
Section 408. Organ transplants.
Section 409. Parental rights.
Section 410. Housing protections.
Section 411. Parolees.
Section 412. Amends seizure language.
Section 413. Licensed patients can have a personal grow.
Section 501. Limits on protections for patients.
Section 601. Cannabis producers shall be licensed.
Section 602. Cannabis processors shall be licensed.
Section 603. Dept. of Agriculture oversees producers and processors.
Section 604. Producers and processors shall submit samples for testing.
Section 605. Dept. of Agriculture may contract with private testing labs.
Section 606. Dept. of Agriculture may adopt rules.
Section 607. Dept. of Agriculture may deny or revoke licenses.
Section 608. Dept. of Agriculture shall adopt certain rules by July 2012.
Section 609. Producers and processors shall maintain certain records.
Section 610. Dept. of Agriculture can compel records.
Section 611. Diversion of medical cannabis is not allowed.
Section 701. Cannabis dispensers shall be licensed.
Section 702. Dept. of Health shall adopt certain rules by July 2012.
Section 703. Diversion of medical cannabis is not allowed.
Section 704. Dispensers must be licensed by county and city.
Section 705. Dispensers may not sell cannabis without local licensing.
Section 801. Scales must comply with RCW 19.94.
Section 802. Advertising ban.
Section 803. Prior cannabis convictions not considered in licensing.
Section 804. License violations are misdemeanors.
Section 805. Violations cost $1000.
Section 806. License suspension for child support.
Section 807. License suspension for past due student loans.
Section 901. State registry of patients, providers, and licensees.
Section 902. What constitutes probable cause.
Section 903. Records exempt from public disclosure.
Section 1001. Evaluation report.
Section 1002. Testing at UW and WSU.
Section 1101. No liability for state and local employees.
Section 1102. Local jurisdictions may adopt zoning, licensing and tax requirements.
Section 1103. Severability clause.
Section 1104. Replace “marijuana.”
Section 1201. Interim affirmative defense for dispensary operators.
Section 1202. Housecleaning.
Section 1203. Housecleaning.
Section 1204. Section 1002 takes effect in July 2012.
For more information on the Cannabis Defense Coalition, visit www.cdc.coop.