Washington state medical marijuana patients have been under attack by lawmakers attempting to force the state’s existing medical cannabis providers and patients into the heavily-taxed, limited recreational cannabis program. Namely, that attack has come in the form of House Bill 2149, which restricts home growing and forces existing medical clinics to follow recreational rules and laws.
The bill would essentially guts the medical program according to many patients and activists. Lawmakers say the law is justified and medical dispensaries have been running too unregulated for too long. But a newly-proposed bill stemming from a group of patients and physicians could protect the current medical program by introducing a regulatory system catered specifically for medical marijuana.
House Bill 2233 would outline a framework for medical dispensaries to operate within, but importantly it would keep patient’s rights to grow their own cannabis. The campaign to pass the bill, dubbed “Health Before Happy Hour” says they want to also restore civil and criminal protections vetoed in 2011 by the Gov. Gregoire.
“Health Before Happy Hour” is gaining steam, with support growing locally and nationally.
“Washington voters approved medical cannabis out of compassion, not because they wanted to generate revenue,” Steph Sherer, Executive Director of Americans for Safe Access, said in a press release. “Washington lawmakers have a duty to uphold the will of the voters, not just those who supported I-502, but also those who believe seriously ill patients should have access to medical cannabis if a doctor says it’s helpful.”
House Bill 2233, sponsored by reps. Sherry Appleton, Luis Moscoso, Roger Freeman and Jessyn Farrell, would protect patients against arrest and would create a business license from the state for medical cannabis collectives. It would also preserve patient rights to cultivate up to 15 plants and possess up to 24 ounces at a time. House bill 2149, on the other hand, would limit home grows to three plants and possession to one ounce.