Key officials helping to create Washington state's potentially lucrative recreational pot market say its success may hinge on preventing consumers from choosing to get high on readily available medical cannabis because of low and sometimes nonexistent taxes on it.
The officials say it may be necessary to raise taxes or impose more stringent rules on medical pot to avoid undercutting the new recreational market and the tax dollars it is expected to inject into state coffers. Many "patients," they say, are in reality heavy recreational users who fake or exploit their maladies.
The idea of changing the rules for medical marijuana alarms some patients and providers of the drug as medicine.
Under current state law, a range of medical professionals, including naturopaths and even some nurses can recommend marijuana for health problems ranging from cancer to persistent pain. While Washington state has no patient registry for the drug, officials in Colorado, which also has medical marijuana, have said the overwhelmingly male and relatively young demographics of their patient population line up with statistics for recreational consumers of the drug.