Senator ends effort to reform medical marijuana law

36th District Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles (D), issued the following statement today regarding her efforts to reform Washington’s medical marijuana law.

“Regretfully, I have decided not to pursue further attempts this year to strengthen our state’s voter-approved medical marijuana law.

“My efforts to make improvements to existing law were motivated by the need to provide qualifying patients with protection from arrest and prosecution and access to a safe, secure and reliable source of the medicine they are legally entitled to use and that has been recommended to them by their licensed health care provider. I also sought to increase public safety and provide a bright line for law enforcement in determining those who are authorized patients, regulated growers and dispensers.

“Despite having bipartisan support, we were unable to achieve these objectives. By far, this represents the greatest disappointment of my legislative career.

“Senate Bill 5073, the medical marijuana legislation I originally introduced this session, included many key improvements to the status quo, such as creating a state regulatory system for licensing producers, processers, and dispensaries and protecting patients who voluntarily sign up on a confidential, secure state registry from arrest and prosecution.

“Unfortunately, around the time the bill passed the Legislature with bipartisan support, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) reinforced its authority to prosecute those involved with commercial dispensaries. As a result, Governor Gregoire vetoed the most substantive parts of SB 5073 out of concern that state employees involved in regulating medical marijuana would be at risk of federal arrest and prosecution. Unfortunately, in my opinion, the situation for patients and their designated providers was exacerbated as a result.

“While the governor did encourage the Legislature to follow-up with a special session bill, it is apparent there is insufficient time to pass a bill addressing these problems at this time.

“My original bill was developed over the course of a year, with significant input from a diverse group of stakeholders, including groups representing patients, designated providers, advocates, local governments, state agencies, and law enforcement.

“But it’s very difficult to develop complex policy—especially with multiple stakeholders—in the course of a 30-day special session. And, unfortunately, in the end, it just was not possible to pass a bill that would address the governor’s concerns, while meeting the needs of patients and local governments in such a limited time frame.

“The governor also specified that the leaders of the four legislative caucuses agree to move the bill. Unfortunately, that was not possible.

“In addition to my keen disappointment in not being able to improve access and protections for patients, I also regret our failure to provide cities and counties with the tools they need to regulate dispensaries and grow operations. The attached letter submitted by King County Executive Dow Constantine, King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, and Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes illustrates the challenges faced by local governments.

“My most recent attempt to reform the medical marijuana law would have scaled back the proposal to a pilot program giving local governments in counties with populations greater than 200,000 the option of authorizing and regulating nonprofit patient cooperatives. It also would have created a joint legislative task force to make recommendations to the Legislature next December on issues still needing resolution. But, even this proposal failed to receive sufficient support to move forward in the remaining days of special session, mainly due to the overriding focus on the budget.

“While it is clear this issue has stalled for now, we cannot continue to ignore this issue– it simply will not solve itself. It is clear that the needs of patients and local jurisdictions remain unresolved and will necessitate further legislative efforts.”

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Bark More Wag Less
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Bark More Wag Less

With 9% unemployment, maybe Jeanne needs a new hobby.

Anonymous
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Anonymous

State law can’t depart significantly from federal law. If the state wants to ignore medical marijuana use, they can get away with it, but they can’t provide a legal framework for it.

Ballard
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Ballard

Maybe now she can focus on matters that really matter.  What a waste of time.

Anonymous
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Anonymous

I’m sorry Senator, but you, and others in the legislature “just don’t get it”.  Every time you and Alison Spin Holcomb write a bill, you treat medical cannabis as a “law enforcement” issue rather than a medical issue.  That has resulted in each bill you write eliminating additional patients’ rights and increasing the ability of law enforcement to harrass, arrest, seize, terrorize and prosecute patients with impunity.  If this is your idea of “helping” us…..PLEASE STOP! We’ve had all of that “help” we can possibly tolerate. This year you tried to force a patient registry on us.  You argued that it would make us “safer”.  You might find .02% of the patients that might believe that they’ll be safer by giving up their medical privacy rights to law enforcement, but it will only be those that can’t be bothered reading your bills.  Ask the people living This year you got your only support from two groups.  One was the WCA, with only 20 members.  This organization is now all but defunked and is viewed with total disdain by the medical community for hiring a lobbyist to support this terrible legislation.  The other organization is the Cannabis Defense Coalition.  This organization… Read more »

Anonymous
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Anonymous

Just legalize it and quit the medical marijuana charade.

Debbie
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Debbie

“Their not there.”  
Should read-They’re not there.I get it, your ranting made you skip a beat.

Anonymous
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Anonymous

Thanks :-)  I’m answering countless phone calls from dispensary people and patients alike….and attorneys.   People have been tauting this whole registry idea as a panacea.  They point to all the states with registries and how well it’s working in these states, especially Oregon.  Get a grip folks….it’s not working in Oregon.  The cops are trying to pass a bill using the patient information for criminal background checks.  The counties with the smallest populations have the highest number of registry inquiries and arrests.  Registries are a “shopping list” for rogue police agencies in Oregon. Maine, a state that started with registries, is currently considering a bill to get rid of the mandatory registry to promote patient privacy rights.  It looks like it’s got the support of the legislature and the Governor.  In Colorado they are trying to pass legislation to put in facial recognition software in the dispensaries, with live feeds to law enforcement, and record every transaction.  Give them an inch and they’ll take a mile.  George Orwell was right….he just missed the year it would happen. This is a medical issue.  Jeanne doesn’t apparently get that.  The ACLU of Washington doesn’t get that.  Why are they so quick… Read more »

Bark More Wag Less
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Bark More Wag Less

Wow, this whole mess looks like it was planned by potheads…oh wait, it was….

Scott
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Scott

In other words: blah blah blah, yada yada yada. This is the best our selected “leaders” can do? As in NUTHIN. Time to find a real job JKW. How many days/weeks were taken for all this BS? Just get out of the GD way and let the economy do IT’S thing. The more you democRATS do for us the more you TO us. Why not go after bicyclists and make ’em get license plates and raise money and hell?

Anon
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Anon

Wow, a lot of right wing, nut job, tea baggers found their way to this blog.  You guys get lost from Pend Oreille county?Nonetheless, I’m looking forward to the next version of this bill.  The best way to change federal law is to pass a state law and then bring a lawsuit if they try to interfere.

Citizen1
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Citizen1

Great try! Please keep up the good fight.
The Federal Government has it’s own agenda, stimulated by the “special interest” who are making obscene amounts of money on this “War on Drugs” It is up to the people and the states to stimulate change. I wonder how many of the opponents have family members who have been helped with the side effects of Chemotherapy? Not many, if any, I suspect.