TVW Update

Medical marijuana bill passes both chambers, heads to governor for signature

New regulations for the state’s medical marijuana system have passed both chambers, after the Senate passed Senate Bill 5052 on a 41-8 vote Tuesday afternoon.

Medical MarijuanaThe Senate concurred with amendments passed by the House last Friday, which means the bill heads to Gov. Jay Inslee‘s desk for a signature before becoming law.

“This bill has been well worked and it’s been quite a journey,” said Sen. Ann Rivers, R-La Center, who sponsored the bill.

The amended bill will:

  • Require licensed marijuana retailers to obtain a medical marijuana endorsement to sell medical-grade marijuana to qualifying patients and designated providers.
  • Eliminates collective gardens and replaces them with cooperatives. Cooperatives may only have four qualifying patients or designated providers and must be registered with the Liquor and Cannabis Board.
  • Establishes a voluntary database of qualifying patients and providers. The bill also requires patients to obtain a recognition card for increased amounts of marijuana products and to be protected from arrest.
  • Establishes different amounts of marijuana that qualifying patients may possess depending on whether or not they have a recognition card or authorization from a health care professional for an additional amount.

SB 5052 also adds post-traumatic stress disorder and brain injuries to the list of terminal or debilitating medical conditions that qualify for medical marijuana and it changes the Liquor Control Board’s name to the Liquor and Cannabis Board.

Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, acknowledged Rivers’ work and said the medical marijuana rules needed to be updated after voters passed Initiative 502, which decriminalized recreational marijuana.

“We do need to have an alignment of our recreational system with our medical system,” Kohl-Welles said.

However, she was concerned that cities and counties are not getting enough from the marijuana taxes to cover enforcement, and that current medical marijuana dispensaries throughout the state will be able to enter the licensing system.

“Unless my vote is needed — I don’t think it will be — I’m going to be voting no, because I need to make that point for the patients,” she said.

Sen. Brian Dansel, R-Republic, said he was concerned that the bill will leave out many Washingtonians who are already using medical marijuana, under the previous, voter-approved system. He also voted no.

“All of a sudden they’re going to be criminals,” Dansel said. “I think we’re not getting this right. We’re going after the wrong thing.”

Sen. Jeannie Darnielle, D-Tacoma, voted for the bill, but expressed similar concerns that the list of conditions that qualify for medical marijuana leaves out many who already have a prescription.

“I felt we had an opportunity to include them in this bill,” she said.

She told the story of one of her constituents, who was prescribed medical cannabis after being the victim of a crime.

“She might not be included because of her conditions in this rather short sighted definition of who qualifies,” she said.

Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Kent, congratulated Rivers on her work on the bill, but said that she expected that lawmakers are not done with the issue.

“On the whole, I think we’ve made great progress,” she said.

The bill report is posted on the legislature’s website.

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