|Photo: Clark County Conservative
|Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire is chicken to sign legislation legalizing medical marijuana dispensaries without asking for the federal government’s permission first.
The Washington state Senate gave final passage Thursday morning to a bill attempting to regulate medical marijuana cultivation and sales, setting up a likely showdown with Governor Christine Gregoire, who opposes provisions for state employees regulating a system of medicinal cannabis dispensaries.
The Senate, on a 27-21 vote, approved amendments to the system adopted by the House earlier this month. That agreement, known as concurrence, sends Senate Bill 5073 to Gregoire’s desk, reports Jim Camden at the Spokane Spokesman-Review
Washington’s current medical marijuana law, passed in 1998 by voters, allows medical marijuana but sets up no system for legal distribution. According to Sen. Lisa Brown (D-Spokane), that’s unfair to patients, neighborhoods and legitimate businesses that could provide the product.
Meanwhile, you have some clueless blowhard like Sen. Jeff Baxter (R-Spokane Valley), who’s still trying to fight a battle that was decided by the voters 13 years ago. “It’s a gateway drug,” the IQ-challenged Baxter claimed, seemingly unaware of scientific studies
which make him look like an uninformed moron.
SB 5073 requires the state Department of Agriculture to license and control the production and processing of medical marijuana, and the state Department of Health to license dispensaries. A letter from U.S. attorneys in Seattle and Spokane warned Gregoire that federal law still lists marijuana as a Schedule I illegal drug. The letter also claimed that state employees could be arrested for “any activites” that “involved medical marijuana.”
|Sen. Jerome Delvin: “You could look at this as a state’s right. Tell D.C. to butt out.”
At least six states license medical marijuana dispensaries, and no state employee has ever been arrested by the federal government in any of those states for carrying out official duties related to marijuana production and licensing.
But because of the bogus concern about state employees getting busted, Gov. Gregoire has said she would not sign a bill that “puts state employees at risk,” even though she claims to want clarity in the state’s medical marijuana law.
Gregoire didn’t wait long to show her hand. Just an hour after the dispensary bill passed, Gregoire indicated she would veto at least part of it.
“I asked the Legislature to work with me on a bill that does not subject state workers to risk of criminal liability,” Gregoire claimed. “I am disappointed that the bill as passed does not address those concerns while also meeting the needs of medical marijuana patients. I will review the bill to determine any parts that can assist patients in need without putting state employees at risk.”
But the Senate correctly saw that Gregoire’s supposed concerns were nothing more than a smoke screen, a convenient cover story for her hen-hearted veto. The Senate approved the exact same language that had passed the House before U.S. Attorneys Mike Ormsby and Jenny Durkan had responded to a request for guidance from Gregoire.
The warnings from Ormsby and Durkan were pooh-poohed by some supporters of the dispensary bill.
“You could look at this as a state’s right,” said Sen. Jerome Delvin (R-Richland). “Tell D.C. to butt out.”
But never mind that. The same old hare-brained, tired-ass, know-nothing howls of ignorance arose on cue, sadly predictable yelps of asininity that reliably issue from any legislative body where progressive marijuana legislation is considered.
Case in point: Sen. Mike Carrell (R-Lakewood), the poster boy for cowardly ignorance, jingoistic fear mongering and callow political ambition. “You are voting for something that is on the cusp of legalizing marijuana for everyone,” Carrell darkly warned the Senate.
But Sen. Cheryl Pflug (R-Maple Valley), said the current system of unregulated medical marijuana is a bigger problem. “This is a vote between maintaining the status quo and trying to establish a bright-line, enforceable framework,” Pflug said.