Regulating Medical Marijuana
Sponsors: Sen. Kohl-Welles, Sen. Regala, Rep. Moeller
Currently, Washington’s Medical Use of Marijuana Act – adopted by voter initiative in 1998 – provides only a legal defense at trial for persons who use marijuana medicinally. So, qualified patients with medical authorization to use cannabis are still being arrested and sometimes prosecuted. And patients with debilitating illnesses can lack access to a safe and consistent source of cannabis, as they are required to either grow it themselves or have it provided by a caregiver.
The legislation would have safeguarded the rights of medical marijuana patients and provided law enforcement with a bright line for enforcement. It included protection against arrest for authorized patients as well as comprehensive regulation of the production and dispensation of medical marijuana. It allowed licensed dispensaries to provide medicinal marijuana under ruled adopted by the state Dept. of Agriculture and Dept. of Health.
In short, the measure would have provided much-needed clarification to “gray areas” of the law, fulfilling the compassionate intention of the citizenry who adopted it. At the very end of the session, Gov. Gregoire expressed concerns about the bill, then, to our chagrin, vetoed its key sections. In issuing her veto, the Governor cited the threat of federal authorities arresting state employees involved in administering dispensaries – an unlikely scenario which has not happened in any of the other states which have dispensaries.