News What’s the AP Smoking?
posted by April 5 at 6:30 AMon
First posted last night at 11 P.M.
Washington’s legislature went out on a limb, err, stalk to protect medical marijuana patients tonight, but you might not know it from reading this:
The state House late Wednesday passed a measure clarifying the state’s medical marijuana law and addressing supply issues, but medical marijuana advocates and patients opposed to the measure argue it does nothing to help them.
The measure, which passed on a 64-30 vote, requires the state Department of Health to determine the quantity of marijuana that could reasonably be considered a 60-day supply. The bill passed the Senate last month, but since it was amended in the House, it must go back to the Senate for concurrence.
Strangely, the AP article fails to mention that medical marijuana advocates and patients who support the measure argue it does a lot to help them. Joanna McKee, who runs the state’s oldest medical marijuana organization, Green Cross, and Martin Martinez, one of Washington’s foremost authorities on the medical use of marijuana, both testified in favor of the bill. They said it would help authorized patients avoid arrest by defining how much pot they can possess. Instead of quoting them, or the bill’s primary sponsor, Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles (D-36 Seattle), the AP only talked to this guy…
Steve Sarich, executive director of CannaCare, a medical marijuana advocacy group, said that doctors - not the state - should determine the supply a patient needs.
“Does the state determine how many birth control pills you take, or how much Percocet you need?” he asked.
“This bill provides no significant protection for patients whatsoever,” he said.
Sarich, a rabble-rouser new to Washington with a relatively unknown organization, is partly right. The bill wouldn’t provide much protection for him. He was nailed earlier this year for growing 1,500 plants. With that sort of operation, the case is automatically in federal jurisdiction and would greatly exceed any reasonable 60-day supply that would be set by Washington’s Department of Health.
Sarich is also little misguided about the premise that doctors should be prescribing specific amounts of cannabis like pharmaceuticals. It’s a great idea, but prescriptions are overseen by the DEA – a federal agency that doesn’t recognize medical marijuana at all.
Currently, as long as authorized patients don’t mess with the DEA or grow so much pot they get bumped out of the state’s legal system, they’re protected in Washington courts. But if this bill is signed into law, as now appears likely, sick people could avoid arrest and court altogether. That’s a big deal.
Somehow, the AP story missed those facts.