Washington Legislator Introduces Medical Cannabis Fixer Bill


Photo: Pete Kuhns/Seattle Weekly
Washington state Rep. Roger Goodman shows off a stash of his drug of choice: chocolate. Goodman is sponsoring an attempt to fix Washington state’s badly flawed medical marijuana law.

‚ÄčState Rep. Roger Goodman (D-Kirkland) on Friday introduced a medical cannabis bill in the Washington House of Representatives that would address many of the patient access problems remaining after Governor Christine Gregoire two weeks ago vetoed most of S.B. 5073, which would have legalized dispensaries and provided arrest protection for patients.

Goodman’s bill includes protections for patients and providers, including language giving arrest protection to patients with authorizing paperwork and language decriminalizing medical cannabis dispensaries.

Cities, towns and counties would also be able to regulate these nonprofit dispensaries or issue moratoriums against them. But some medical marijuana advocates contend that provision would inevitably lead to a confusing patchwork of regulations and enforcement all over the state, serving to further muddy the issue, rather than provide any clarification.
The bill does not include a state-run patient registry or any other state regulation, addressing the governor’s concerns regarding state employees running afoul of federal laws.
“We’re pleased that Rep. Goodman has taken a firm stand in defense of what Washington voters approved in 1998 — safe access to medicine statewide without fear of arrest,” said Philip Dawdy, media and policy director for the Washington Medical Cannabis Association (formerly the Washington Cannabis Association).
“What the governor did two weeks ago put tens of thousands of patients in legal jeopardy,” Dawdy said. “Goodman’s bill will fix this inequity and we hope the Legislature acts soon to adopt its provisions.”
S.B. 5955, recently introduced by state Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles (D-Seattle) during the current special session, would have introduced a state-run patient registry and would have created an initial statewide moratorium on nonprofit patient cooperatives. Cities and counties could opt to allow for patient cooperatives by passing ordinances.
Patient and provider advocates felt this approach would put them at too much of a disadvantage, and were thus concerned about that legislation. The proposed bill had a hearing in the Senate Ways and Means Committee earlier this week, but appears to be stalled.
“We really appreciate everything Senator Kohl-Welles has done for patients,” Dawdy said. “She has poured her soul into this year after year.”
Rep. Goodman, an attorney, is a longtime advocate for drug policy and sentencing reform. Goodman is also a candidate for Congress in 2012.