Washington patients have been under attack by their state legislature, which has pushed a bill that would pretty much end the state’s medical marijuana program and force patients into the highly-taxed recreational model. House Bill 2149 deservedly should die a quick death.
And at least state Sen. Ann Rivers recognizes the flaws. Late last week Rivers introduced Senate Bill 5887 which addresses some of the major issues patients have with the other bill – though it still needs some tweaking to be palatable to Washington medical marijuana supporters.
Among the positives: Patients would still be allowed to cultivate their own supply, though the total number of plants is down from 15 to just six in the current proposal. Any number of those plants could be in flower at any given time. The bill would still allow for patients to have collective, though it would severely limit the size of them to just four patients each. If someone drops out of a collective, at least 15 days has to pass before the remaining members can allow a new person into their garden.
Patients who still want to shop at a storefront center would be forced to shop at the recreational stores, though they would be exempt from the standard tax and the retail-level excise tax – though only until 2015 under the current proposal. Activists say they are talking with legislators to extend that tax exemption permanently. Medical patients would be able to purchase up to three ounces, which is three times more than recreational patients but still 21 ounces less than what medical patients are currently allowed to possess.
Patients would have to register with the state after April 1,2016 to receive any immunity in courts. Currently, the most that is required is a doctor’s recommendation.
“I’m not calling it good,” Philip Dawdy, director at the Washington Cannabis Association said this week. “But it is a workable framework for medical going forward.”
Rivers’ bill passed through the state Senate on Saturday and now heads to the state House for consideration.