|Graphic: Spokane Spokesman-Review|
A major newspaper in Washington state has called for legislators, currently trying to revamp and clarify the state’s medical marijuana law, to drop onerous amendments which threaten to torpedo what started out as a good piece of legislation.
“The present bill does a thorough job of establishing a system for the legal production and distribution of marijuana, but heavy-handed amendments were added in the Senate before that body passed it,” editorialized the Spokane Spokesman-Review.
“The amended bill would not allow medical marijuana to become a commercial enterprise, unlike other drugs,” the Spokesman-Review wrote. “Nor could it be advertised as other drugs are. In addition, individual communities could choose to outlaw dispensaries.
“The bill should put patients first by not erecting barriers that make it more difficult to legally obtain marijuana,” the paper wrote. “The House should strip the bill of these excessive limitations.”
The original intent of SB 5073, introduced by state Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, was to formally legalize dispensaries (which were neither specifically allowed nor banned in the original 1998 measure legalizing medical marijuana which was approved by voters) and to provide arrest protection for patients, who now only have an “affirmative defense” once they’re arrested and hauled into court.
Three main problems with the bill, according to Seattle-based patient advocacy group Cannabis Defense Coalition, are as follows:
1. The bill should 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.
2. The bill should not attack doctors. The bill, as amended, places chilling restrictions on health care professionals who authorized the medical use of cannabis.
3. The bill should not outlaw collective growing. Under current law, patients can grow together. The bill should not limit collective grows to three patients.