The issues that need to be addressed in Washington for Medical Cannabis
There are a lot of things coming out in regards to the medical cannabis and other cannabis usage in Washington state right now.
We have saw two bills come up in the Washington legislature both of which I have labeled as “dog and pony shows” since they were obviously not going to pass from the get go and they both eventually got stuck in committee. Both HB 1550 and SB 5073 that were proposed this year had some debatable good qualities to them, but they also offered a lot of things that the Washington voters do not seem to wish for, which is high regulation and taxes.
It was obvious from the beginning to me that HB 1550 which required the involvement and sales by the WA Liquor Board for social cannabis was destined to fail.. Much like the medical bill that came out (SB 5073) it also offered an expensive tax and control structure that would have cost consumers additional amounts of money to finance.
SB 5073’s fiscal report was showing that the registry cost would start out at around 11 million dollars and then we would need to pay the salaries of 47+ state employees, which is to do the job that one person does in Colorado and that one person does in Nevada.
Despite that money seemed to lend a contributing factor in why the legislature was so eager this year in regards to legalization efforts, it is also obvious after watching one hearing after another that they were upset about the growth and popularity of the medical cannabis market which grew to having over 40 dispensaries in Spokane in recent months.
Each hearing I would hear dialog about the “out of control dispensaries”. They never cited a single case of where a dispensary acted inappropriately they never noted any complaints that the public has about these dispensaries, and certainly I don’t hear them speaking about how patients who benefited from these services felt about these dispensaries neither good nor bad.
Yet there were many patients who spoke in front of the committees about how the dispensaries were literally life savers.
Yet in almost every committee meeting the representatives would speak about the “wild west” of medical cannabis in Washington state, and that became clear to me from the beginning that was a major aspect of this legislation. Not to mention the Section (301) that from the VERY BEGINNING started winding back the functions of a doctor/patient relationship in regards to medical cannabis.
This isn’t something that was introduced at the end of these hearings, no Section 301 was there from the beginning, and in it the words that gave doctors immunity from criminal penalties for recommending cannabis to a patient started being crossed out of current law. We posted this about the original proposal here: http://xcannabis.com/2011/04/washington-norml-asks-three-questions-to-those-against-sb-5073/
So I stopped subscribing to what many of these other “cannabis advocate” groups were posting. I would read them from time to time, but mostly I was just watching the legislators and what they were doing because the media about this didn’t seem to want to cover the negative aspects of the bill.
You can see about a dozen reports that we gave on this pointing out the negative aspects of this bill:
I recognize that there were other very astute and vocal cannabis advocates out there fighting against this, such as the Northwest Leaf, CannaCare, and other local patients and advocates. Im just saying there were a lot of other groups that were touting support for SB 5073 without any obvious complaints for months.
A few of the supporters of this bill criticized me for coming out in opposition of this bill, which made it seem to me that these folks think that criticizing what the legislature was doing wasn’t helping.
I just keep wondering how does giving unfailing support for a bad bill helpful? How do the legislature know what we want if we won’t say it? How does keeping our complaints secret help the process?
The REASON we have medical cannabis in Washington NOW is because the people spoke up! It was a people’s initiative that got medical marijuana approved for Washingtonians, not a bill! So when there is legislation to change our cannabis laws, it is very important to stand up and reject the bad aspects and DEMAND GOOD POLICIES!
So in my opinion this is what Washington needs for medical cannabis.
- Patient protection without a registry, no arrest no searches with the proper documentation.
- Dispensaries must remain in tact, and be legitimized in our state constitution. There should not be limits on the number of dispensaries as that will continue to drive prices up
- Leave the state employees out of it. If there are no state employees involved, then medical cannabis will not receive threats from the feds, like we recently saw with SB 5073, but like we would have also saw with HB 1550 had it made it out of committee.
- Most of all we need to protect collective gardens so sick and incapable people may get their meds from a community garden that doesn’t cost them what it does to buy from the dispensaries which are often very expensive.
I think that to ensure that the people get exactly what they want, they need to stand up, reject the bad policies that are being introduce and praise the good policies.
I am so tired of people playing politician. Lets just do whats right from the get go.
It looks like our only chance of getting it right this year is Sensible Washington’s Initiative 1149.
Please see the following two websites for more details: www.i1149.com & www.SensibleWashington.org
We have also vowed to play a more involved part in this process next year if it fails this year. Meaning we will continue to try to gather allies together to propose our own initiative. I want i-1149 to succeed, but there is a good chance that it won’t succeed.
So we have been trying to connect people who are in Washington, and gather more support for something next year, just in case we don’t get it worked out this year.
As I stated earlier, we only have medical cannabis in Washington state because of a people’s initiative and that seems like the only way we will preserve those rights.
Please also give the National Initiative for Democracy a look. It is just like a state initiative but it employs a national initiative process.