A bill that would have forced Washington state medical marijuana patients into the yet-to-begin recreational marijuana system and all but gutted the current dispensary collective system died yesterday as the legislature adjourned for the session last night.
Politicians are their own worst enemies, and sometimes their inability to get along any better than a bag of wet cats ends up being a good thing. A discussion over where recreational marijuana tax revenue should end up caused the bill to be stalled. Republicans wanted money to go to more city and county governments.
The bill had actually passed through the Senate late last week, but was held up in the House on a proposal to give 10 percent of the wholesale tax revenue and 20 percent of the sales tax revenue to municipalities in the state. That was the no-go for House democrats, and the House Republicans say it has to be in the bill for it to pass.
So for now, their impasse is to Washington patient’s benefit.
Senate Bill 5887 was viewed by most in the medical marijuana community as a complete disaster waiting to happen. It would have drastically curtailed access to meds and would have restricted possession and cultivation amounts considerably. The bill also would have established a patient registry and required patients to acquire a license. Currently a doctor’s recommendation suffices for legal protections.
But lawmakers said the bill was needed to reign in an industry that has been largely unregulated so far. There are hundreds of dispensaries in Washington state currently. State leaders said that without the laws, the medical marijuana industry was setting themselves up for federal intervention.
Actually, lawmakers weren’t the only ones trying to push legislation – any legislation – through. Americans for Safe Access director Kari Boiter was disappointed in the lack of action.
“We worked really hard to get bipartisan support for a bill that would work for [medical marijuana patients]and work for them,” Boiter told The Oregonian. “And we’re the ones left in legal limbo because (the lawmakers) can’t do their job. If we can compromise when our health is at stake they should be able to compromise.”
Either way, this probably isn’t the end of such attempts and it’s unlikely that the legislature will leave this alone when they next reconvene.