Marijuana

Washington Bill Aims to Unify Medical and Recreational Marijuana

The proposal abolishes dispensaries, expands state-licensed outlets, and allows home cultivation.

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Office of Jeanne Kohl-Welles

A bill introduced this week by a Washington legislator would combine medical and recreational marijuana into one state-regulated industry while allowing anyone 21 or older to grow cannabis at home. Recreational cannabis consumers will be pleased by the latter provision, which brings Washington in line with other states that have legalized marijuana. But patients may worry that they will not be able to get the medicine they need at an affordable price if the state shuts down unlicensed dispensaries, which offer medical strains, far outnumber the retailers overseen by the Washington State Liquor Control Board (LCB), and charge less, partly because they are not subject to the state's steep marijuana taxes.

The bill's author, Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles (D-Seattle), wants to do away with those dispensaries, which generally operate as "collective gardens" under a 2011 law that she also wrote. Kohl-Welles says that provision was intended to facilitate self-help by patients, not to authorize commercial suppliers of medical marijuana, which would have been allowed by parts of the bill that the governor vetoed. Now that Washington has legalized marijuana for recreational as well as medical use, she says, it makes no sense to maintain two parallel distribution systems.

Several provisions of Kohl-Welles' Comprehensive Marijuana Reform Act are aimed at reassuring patients that their needs will be met. The bill requires the LCB to license additional marijuana outlets through a "competitive, merit-based" process that favors applicants with experience in the marijuana industry, including current dispensary operators. The LCB would issue "medical marijuana endorsements" to retailers who demonstrate expertise in that area. Retailers with such endorsements would be required to carry "medical grade" strains that are low in THC but high in cannabidiol (CBD), a nonpsychoactive but medically useful component of marijuana, in addition to high-THC strains. They would be allowed to advertise their expertise and serve patients between the ages of 18 and 21, who currently cannot buy marijuana from the LCB-licensed stores.

Patients also could legally grow their own marijuana, but they would be limited, like recreational users, to six plants unless they obtained a "medical marijuana waiver" from the state Department of Health, in which case they could grow up to 15. Under current law, patients can grow up to 15 plants without registering, provided they have a doctor's recommendation, but they have only an affirmative defense against cultivation charges. Under Kohl-Welles' bill, patients with waivers who grow up to 15 plants would be immune from arrest. They also would qualify for an exemption from some of the taxes on marijuana.

Kohl-Welles tried something similar last year, but legislation was blocked by disagreements over the sharing of marijuana tax revenue with local governments. "The main intent of my bill is to simplify and unify the two systems so that complex gray areas and dangerous illicit markets will eventually cease to exist," she says. "My colleague on the other side of the aisle, Sen. Ann Rivers, is also working hard on this issue, and her legislation has many commonalities with mine. I anticipate that we will find a way to pass legislation that combines the best of both of our proposals."

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  1. Well… Something has to get banned.

  2. It would be nice to see this happen, as the current law doesn’t allow for growing your own weed, which is fucking asinine beyond belief (and completely flouted anyway). Though I suspect part of the motivation, no matter what she says, is to bring at least some of the medical weed into the regular, very high taxation system and under the control of the LCB.

    Still, it would rectify one of the biggest flaws in the original initiative, which was no growing your own. That’s a plus.

    1. It’s a feature, not a bug!

  3. Other than to extend whatever sales tax exemption for prescription drugs you have to medpot, I don’t see why any state with legal funpot needs any kind of medpot regulation at all.

    If your funpot regime so chokes off the supply that medpot users can’t find any, maybe the problem is your funpot regime?

  4. But patients may worry that they will not be able to get the medicine they need at an affordable price if the state shuts down unlicensed dispensaries

    And you see, children, here lies the lesson. Stop letting the state get you dependent upon them by banning stuff that should never be illegal to start with.

    Lesson #1 in illegal stuff 101:

    Something that should be illegal: Murder

    Something that should not be illegal: Plants

    1. …and charge less, partly because they are not subject to the state’s steep marijuana taxes.

      Seems like there might be a solution to this problem. Hang on, let me think a minute.

      1. Obviously, they need to get a subsidy check to buy their pot with.

        1. Subsidized with a higher penaltax on recreational pot! Yes!

    2. Something that should not be illegal: Plants

      Including Giant Hogweed?

      1. Papaver somniferum
        Erythroxylum coca

        I’m sure coca infused candy doesn’t pose society a problem at all. SURE OF IT

  5. Patients also could legally grow their own marijuana, but they would be limited, like recreational users, to six plants unless they obtained a “medical marijuana waiver” from the state Department of Health, in which case they could grow up to 15. Under current law, patients can grow up to 15 plants without registering, provided they have a doctor’s recommendation, but they have only an affirmative defense against cultivation charges. Under Kohl-Welles’ bill, patients with waivers who grow up to 15 plants would be immune from arrest.

    But remember, folks: it’s legal!

  6. And here is the juncture point for all those “legalize it, but regulate it” people that I argued with for so many years. It may have seemed like I was splitting hairs between the semantics of “legalize it” versus “decriminalizing it”. Legalizing it makes it appear it’s something you’re now allowed to do, subject to provisos, and if you fail to live up to some standard, back it can go into illegal status, versus it’s none of the fucking government’s business and it should get its fucking nose out of it all together. No say so, no taxes, no Department of the Parasitic Bureaucracy getting its hooks into the activity. “Legalize it, regulate it, tax it” assholes are just in the box sheeple.

    And I don’t smoke nothin’, wacky or otherwise. Hate it.

    1. Point taken, toolkien.

      However, a straight “decriminalizing” where a pot plant is like a rose plant is like a tomato plant, etc. is highly unlikely to pass.

      So we’re back to balancing off alternatives:

      (1) Is legalized better than criminalized?

      (2) Is it worth it to pass up a chance to legalize now v. waiting indefinitely, maybe forever, to decriminalize?

      Etc.

      Personally, I’d still rather have an almighty clusterfuck of legalization rules, than criminal penalties for possession, use, cultivation, and/or sale.

      Its the eternal dilemma of incremental progress.

    2. Anything can at any time go into illegal status, regardless of the hx of its legality.

  7. One Bud to rule them all, One Bud to find them;
    One Bud to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.

  8. Next step: Repeal prescription laws. End the government enforced monopoly that the medical profession currently enjoys over access to medical drugs. At the very least those medical drugs not subject to abuse by drug addicts.

    1. The problem with that is that the trend lately in the USA seems to be in the opposite direction. However, just 15-20 yrs. ago things in the USA were moving in the rx-to-OTC direction (and also in the direction of allowing more types of practitioners’ prescriptions to be filled), so it may be possible to regain that momentum quickly. Birth control pills represent such an opp’ty.

    2. Fentanyl for everyone for free..because it only takes 50micrograms per dose.

  9. I’m kinda surprised there hasn’t been more popular push to allow pharmacies to dispense most drugs without a Dr. Rx, considering how many people have traveled and seen this work in the rest of the world. And I’ve never heard a negative remark about it. I don’t even think it’s the doctors’ lobbying, because it just hasn’t even come up as a topic.

    1. Non-Rx drugs aren’t always covered by insurance, so there will be resistance to this.

  10. Lets roll it over one time man. Wow.

    http://www.BestAnon.tk

  11. As a MedMJ person I can now grow 15 plants,no registry,how does reducing that amount and being on a registry help me?

    1. It helps you resist the temptation to sell on the black market..Unless your a moron who can’t harvest a decent crop

  12. Hey you guys I have found the perfect job as a full time student, it has changed my life around! If you are self motivated and social media savvy then this is ideal for you. The sky is the limit, you get exactly how much work you put into to it.
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  13. The medical dispensaries charge less because a) some patients only want fee drugs or b) they are black marketing

    There is no way the taxed and regulated vendors are making less money than the untaxed ones. And the rec prices are too high to be just the result of taxes…it has to be because they are not willing to divert to the black market and therefore must charge overall higher prices to get the same compensation on the same volume of product.

    The only real problem is retailers wanting more than $50k per year income as operators (and the inclusion of non-working owners) and growers who push outdoor mids that are something anyone can produce instead of producing top tier products which require greater skill and input per output.Or I can blame consumers for being cheap drug addicts that would prefer 10 cheap doses to 3 fine doses because they can’t tolerate abstinence as a result of their income brackets.

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