Washington House Passes Medical Marijuana Overhaul Measure

Washington House Passes Medical Marijuana Overhaul Measure

OLYMPIA, WA — On Monday, the Washington House has passed a measure that would overhaul the state’s current medical marijuana system in an effort to bring it into line with the still-developing legal recreational market.

Medical marijuana supporters are weary of the proposal, saying that it would essentially gut the state’s 15 year old medical marijuana program and hurt patients.

House Bill 2149 passed on a 67-29 vote and now heads to the Senate, which has its own measures addressing reconciling the two systems.

The bill was introduced by Rep. Eileen Cody (D-West Seattle), and is modeled afterrecommendations made by the Washington State Liquor Control Board last October.

In addition to creating a state-wide medical marijuana patient registry, the bill would also reduce the amount of medical marijuana patients are allowed to possess from the current limit of 24 ounces to a proposed 3 ounce limit.

The bill would reduce the number of plants patients are allowed to grow from 15 plants to 6.  Under the proposed cultivation limits, only three of the six plants would be allowed to be flowering.

Under the proposal, home cultivation by patients could completely disappear within five years, as the bill also establishes a committee made up of the Liquor Control Board and the Department of Health to determine if home cultivation remains necessary after recreational pot shops are open.

The bill also proposes eliminating collective marijuana grows, which advocates fear would shut down the state’s medical marijuana dispensary system.

Washington lawmakers have worried that the largely unregulated medical system would undercut the taxed, recreational industry, and U.S. Justice Department officials have warned that the state’s medical pot status quo is untenable.

Advocates say the Liquor Control Board should not have any oversight or input to the medical marijuana program, which is currently overseen by the state’s Department of Health.

“The very real needs of medical marijuana patients cannot be adequately met by the recreational marijuana program and must be addressed by preserving and strengthening the law that currently exists,”  Steph Sherer, Exeuctive Director of Americans for Safe Access, said last year when the Liquor Control Board first proposed the recommendations. “We’re urging Governor Inslee and the state legislature not to abandon the tens of thousands of patients in Washington and continue to treat medical marijuana as a public health issue.”

  • JimBob

    They know home growing is essential, They the state, also know if they eventually “weed out” home growing, all the weed will be in their greedy little hands. Makes me sick. My Advice, If you love your weed, LEAVE WASHINGTON.

  • Dusty Relic

    Home growing is essential. If you can’t grow your own then you are not free and you will be subject to the whims of government and/or big business.

  • yankee2

    How do these changes “bring it (the current medical marijuana system) into line with the still-developing legal recreational market?” How does reducing the amount of marijuana patients can possess do that? How does reducing the number of plants a patient may possess do that? I think it’s a Trojan Horse for instituting stricter marijuana regulations. Based upon the relative lack of harms marijuana causes, it should be regulated relatively less than alcohol or tobacco, NOT MORE. Why should cultivation by patients “disappear within 5 years?” To give big corporate producers a monopoly? Remember, this is a very benign drug, which has never been known to cause ANY harm, outside the minds of prohibitionists. This attempt to increase regulations, and reduce the rights of individuals to grow their own is usury. It is an outrage. It might even be tyranny.

  • Natosha Monego

    WA Legislative Hotline, 1-800-562-6000, or visit their webpage, http://www.leg.wa.gov/LIC/Pages/hotline.aspx

  • DragonTat2

    Rumor has it the bill was killed by the Senate this evening.

  • Steven Scott Hinch

    For those of you who are confused as to why medical marijuana patients are so unanimously upset about Senate Bill 5887 (and the LCB’s overtures as a whole this past year), let me give you a brief bit of perspective. When a patient goes to a legitimate collective garden or dispensary, the volunteers and growers there can offer them testing results on all of their strains. Those testing results allow a patient to know superficial details about the marijuana, such as its purity (pests, pesticides, and molds) and its terpene profile (scent, flavor, notes). More importantly though, testing results allow a patient to see the exact cannabinoid profile of the marijuana. This is important because it allows patients with glaucoma to select the marijuana with the highest cannabigerol (CBG) level in order to instantly reduce their interocular pressure, or for patients with epileptic children to select marijuana bred with extremely low THC and high CBD in order to reduce (or eliminate outright) their seizures without getting them high. Sounds convenient, right? The problem is that those legitimately medicinal strains have a limited market, and often require tweaks in the growing process (nutrient/lighting regimens, ambient C02, temperature, time left in flowering phase) that can make the bud unpalatable or unmarketable to other patients. What the Liquor Control Board is proposing would not only abolish the open environment necessary to breed and produce those unique strains, but eliminate medicinal strains from the market entirely. Growers will be forced to produce plants on a large scale requiring them to minimize plant-specific attention (necessary to virtually all medicinal strains) as much as possible. Moreover, no I-502 grower is going to produce an entire crop of marijuana that tastes and smells like dirt, doesn’t get you ‘high’, but has a specific medical effect… because they simply won’t have the market for it. In a small, private garden, growers are not faced with the same severe financial repercussions of making unprofitable marijuana that recreational growers will, and can often tinker and test their strains as a matter of hobby. Besides driving growers away from producing medicinal strains, the LCB is also permitting the use of over 200 different pesticides during the flowering phase of growth which have extremely toxic and adverse side effects when smoked. They go so far as to encourage their use by means of growing quota requirements. To reiterate, the LCB has essentially created a bill which screws all medical marijuana patients out of access to the strains and staff capable of helping them, and forces them to buy their own adulterated, mass produced marijuana. To salt the wound, instead of legitimizing or assisting patients in the process of seeking out marijuana as a healthy alternative to certain pharmaceuticals, they’ve made the process much more difficult and exclusive… and are then placing those patients on a state registry like sex offenders. This is legislation born from ignorance, and it shows. Voters chose not to allow the LCB to have any sway over medical marijuana, I-502’s voter pamphlet said outright it wouldn’t effect medical marijuana, and yet here we are three months into legalization without a single bud available to recreational consumers and the LCB still playing grab-*** with medical marijuana. Is there not single lawmaker in Olympia who represents their constituents as much as their government’s pocket??