TVW Update

Medical marijuana regulations proposed in two separate bills

Lawmakers have been saying for the past few years that medical marijuana needs clear regulations as the state allows retail marijuana shops, which were made legal by the passage of Initiative 502.

The Senate in 2014 passed a medical marijuana bill written by Sen. Ann Rivers, R-La Center, with a number of amendments by Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, but the House did not vote on it.

This session, Rivers and Kohl-Welles once again proposed different bills that would create a medical marijuana system alongside the recreational market.

Rivers introduced Senate Bill 5052 before session. Among the proposed rules are:

  • Establishes a registry for patients and for medical marijuana stores.
  • Barring smoking products and smokable marijuana to be sold as medical products.
  • Exempting medical marijuana products from use tax and sales tax.
  • Allowing medical marijuana patients to have up to six plants — a reduction from the 15 allowed now — and allowing patients to grow their own marijuana.
  • Replacing collective gardens with registered growing cooperatives, where only members could participate with no monetary payment.

Rivers’ original language called for a medical marijuana retail license, but Rivers said Thursday she would change her bill to establish three types of stores: those that sell both medical and recreational; and those that just sell one or the other.

Kohl-Welles earlier this week held a press conference announcing Senate Bill 5519. SB 5519 would phase out the collective gardens and dispensaries and do away with the medical authorization system. The medical products would be available in marijuana I-502 retail stores.

  • Making low-THC, high CBD products tax-free
  • Making available an additional endorsement to show that a store has expertise in medical marijuana.
  • Allowing medical marijuana patients to have up to six plants.
  • Creating a waiver for marijuana patients who need more than six plants. The waiver also would allow for people to purchase of retail marijuana without sales tax.
  • Permitting anyone 21 and older to grow up to six plants or fewer for their own personal use. People may give to one ounce of usable marijuana that they’ve grown to another person without compensation.
  • Would not create a registry for patients.

Kohl-Welles emphasized that her bill shares similarities with Rivers’ bill.

“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,” Kohl-Welles said in a statement. “I anticipate that we will find a way to pass legislation that combines the best of both of our proposals.”

Rivers’ bill was heard Thursday, which also was Medical Cannabis Lobby Day at the Capitol.

Retailers, collective garden organizers, activists and patients testified to Rivers’ bill on Thursday both for and against the bill.

Ryan Day of Federal Way was one of the speakers on Sen. Ann Rivers' medical marijuana bill.

Ryan Day, who grows medical marijuana that stops the seizures of his six-year-old son, Haiden, said that getting rid of the collective garden system would make it difficult to provide his son’s treatment when their plants at home haven’t fully grown.

The type of cannabis that Day grows does not cause a high, which makes it hard to obtain on the recreational market, he said. Day said that he wants to work with lawmakers to create a system that gives options other than recreational marijuana stores for patients to get medicinal cannabis.

“I went to a recreational store. The interior reminded me of the basement in ‘That ’70s Show,’ ” Day said after the meeting.

TVW took video of the press conferences and the public hearing:

Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles press conference

Senate Health Care Public Hearing

Sen. Ann Rivers press conference

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