|Washington Governor Christine Gregoire: “I’ve indicated to the senator I’m a go, but you’ve got to get the other ‘four corners’ to say they’re a go as well”|
Washington Governor Christine Gregoire on Thursday gave a thumbs-up to the new medical marijuana proposal being developed in the state Senate. The new measure is the offspring of the legislation the governor gutted last week.
Medical marijuana has been legal in Washington since voters approved it in 1998, but patients still don’t have arrest protection or safe access, which SB 5073 would have fixed.
According to Gregoire, Sen. Jeanne Kohlp-Welles’s latest bill is “absolutely mindful” of the reason for the governor’s “partial veto” of 5073 (which removed almost all useful portions of the original bill): her supposed concern that state employees might be prosecuted for administering a medical marijuana program, reports Jordan Schrader at the Tacoma News Tribune. (Cannabis advocates have pointed out that state employees have never been prosecuted by the federal government for carrying out a state medical marijuana program in the 15 states which have legalized medicinal cannabis.)
Before the new bill can be heard in the Legislature’s special session, Gregoire said she wants the leaders of the four party caucuses to agree to take it up.
“I’ve indicated to the senator I’m a go, but you’ve got to get the other ‘four corners’ to say they’re a go as well,” Gregoire said.
At least one of those “four corners” is balking, the News Tribune reports, and surprise, surprise, it’s the Republicans.
“Passing legislation dealing with marijuana laws is not the priority for House Republicans,” said House GOP Leader Richard DeBolt. (Remember that, patients. You are not a “priority.”)
The Legislature is, of course, free to take up whatever bills and wants, and Sen. Kohl-Welles said on Thursday she plans to introduce another medical marijuana bill next week and get it moving as quickly as possible.
If it makes it to the House, majority Democrats are willing to take it up, according to Majority Leader Pat Sullivan.
The question, at this point, is whether Governor Gregoire’s odd request for bipartisan agreement represents another lame excuse for a veto, even should Democrats pass the new bill.
After all, you have to wonder about intent when Christine invents new hurdles of her own that must be cleared before patients in Washington get proper protection.