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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Today the Legislature Considers Overhauling the State's Dysfunctional Rules for Medical Cannabis

Posted by on Thu, Jan 20, 2011 at 10:41 AM

This guest Slog post is by Ben Livingston, a board member of the Cannabis Defense Coalition activist cooperative.

Washington State voters overwhelmingly passed a medical cannabis law in 1998. Over a decade later, the general consensus among patients, providers, police and prosecutors is that the law needs a fix. Patients lack reliable, safe and affordable access to quality cannabis. Providers are routinely raided by police and robbed by criminals. Police lack clear guidelines and often view providers as skirting the law. Prosecutors are forced to sort out the mess.

As the law stands, not one medical cannabis patient in Washington State is safe from arrest. The law allows a defense at trial only, not protection from arrest. Our state Supreme Court ruled last year that showing police a valid medical cannabis authorization—which is required by law if one is to use this defense—is grounds for the cops to detain and search a patient or provider.

For the first time ever, the Washington State Legislature is considering "omnibus" medical cannabis legislation. Senate Bill 5073, and its companion House Bill 1100, would completely overhaul our state's dysfunctional medical cannabis law. A senate committee is discussing SB 5073 and taking public testimony today.

The bill would license dispensaries through the Department of Health, and cannabis growers through the Department of Agriculture. Visitors from other medical cannabis states get an affirmative defense where they used to just get ankle bracelets. Patients on probation stop being victimized by Attorney General Rob McKenna's attempts to undermine I-692 through Department of Corrections policy. Medical scientists at the University of Washington would be explicitly protected in conducting research on cannabinoid medicine—a field in which the intellectual giant is at the forefront.

Under the terms of this bill, parents would be protected from losing their kids because of medical cannabis. We would finally stop denying organ transplants to pot patients, and stop evicting them from housing. The bill would preempt local jurisdictions—like Edmonds—from banning dispensaries in their town, allowing them instead to set reasonable zoning restrictions.

But most importantly, SB 5073 would protect patients from arrest. This is what makes this bill important. Fear and violence pervade the medical cannabis community, fueled by a constant threat of arrest and home invasion. Patients must be afforded the protection of our police and courts. They must feel safe calling 911. We must stop treating them as criminals, because they are not criminals.

More than that even, we must stop treating them as criminals because this fear, and this violence, and these feelings of criminality will not help any of us heal cancer. It won't help control epileptic seizure, and it won't help keep food in a wasting patient's stomach. Arrest protection is how we help dissipate this fear and violence. Arrest protection is what this bill is about, and it is why we support SB 5073.

The Senate Health and Long-Term Care Committee will hold a hearing on SB 5073 today at 1:30 p.m. in the Cherberg Building on the Capitol Campus, 304 15th Ave SW in Olympia.


Comments (7) RSS

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bgk 1
Emailed my reps and senator, will call this afternoon.

Posted by bgk on January 20, 2011 at 10:58 AM · Report this
Joe Szilagyi 2
Who is on the record of opposing this legislation so far on the state level?
Posted by Joe Szilagyi on January 20, 2011 at 11:33 AM · Report this
coolio 3
Colorado is a great example of how to make this work. They have made the law more clear and a little more tough but fair about who can become a legal grower & dispensary.
Regulations like no convicted felons, required business license, and/or be zoned for business have contributed to making it all legitimate and safe fro everyone.
And business is booming in Denver.
Posted by coolio on January 20, 2011 at 11:40 AM · Report this

Include a call to action. Make the call to action easy. The people reading your post want to do something to help.

Thanks for giving us information. Now tell us where we're needed.

(For best results, list the call to action links at the top and bottom of the post)

Posted by six shooter on January 20, 2011 at 11:54 AM · Report this
Great post!

Proud to be a CDC member.
Posted by agitproper on January 20, 2011 at 10:46 PM · Report this
got a thousand dollar fine, for a gram of weed, and the SEATTLE
FOOTBALL, PLAYER LEROY HILL gets the KID GLOVES - is this fairness?
Posted by seattle420lover on January 22, 2011 at 12:46 PM · Report this
Just a way to shut up a bad child. If they cry, give them what they want! The potheads keep crying and the government do not want hear them cry anymore so they are giving in. They're just drug dealers getting licenses to bring babies into addiction.
Posted by Jonstud on March 29, 2011 at 3:29 PM · Report this

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