By the students, for the students of Central Washington University

Competing legislation may decide the fate of Washington medical marijuana

June 3, 2015

Washington Senate Bill (SB) 5052, purposed to further regulate the medical marijuana industry, passed 60 to 36 in the House and 41 to eight in the Senate. Governor Jay Inslee signed off on the bill and plans to slowly implement it over the next year.

However, many medical marijuana advocates believe that SB 5052 will essentially destroy Washington’s medical marijuana framework.

House Bill (HB) 2136 is the comprehensive marijuana market reform bill and the accompanying bill for SB 5052. However, HB 2136 failed to pass in the regular legislative session and was returned to committee, but has since moved back into the House. According to the Association of Washington Cities (AWC), HB 2136 has been made a major priority.

HB 2136 stated that I-502 established a clear disadvantage for the recreational marijuana market in its ability to compete with the unregulated medical marijuana and black markets with respect to prices.

John Davis, founder and CEO of Northwest Patient Resource Center, spoke at a legislative summary, made a video which was posted to the Pierce County NORML’s Facebook page, and spoke out about the political reality that surrounded SB 5052.

“When it came out, we were not pleased with it. But we recognized from the way it was introduced and the way it was likely to go through the committee system that it was viable,” Davis said.

Davis said SB 5052 needs to be cleaned up before it can be enacted, but there is another legislative session before the bulk of SB 5052 will be enacted into law.

“My biggest concern is [that] 2136 doesn’t pass,” Davis said. “2136 absolutely must be cleaned up. You cannot put the medical system in a system that doesn’t work.”

On the AWC’s website, they layout some key points of HB 2136 as it currently stands:
Tax exemption for qualifying marijuana patients (state and local sales tax, not excise tax).
Allows flexibility for cities to reduce current 1,000-ft. buffer around retail or growing operations.
Allows Liquor Control Board (LCB) to contract with local law enforcement to eradicate illegal marijuana production.
Provides revenue sharing with cities and counties.

However, these bills have incited backlash in the medical marijuana community. A counter-initiative proposed for next year’s ballot, provided it gains enough petition signatures, is I-739.

Proposed and endorsed by the group Real Legalization, the full title of the initiative is the Cannabis Freedom Initiative 739.

It proposes allowing parents to use marijuana as medicine for their children without a doctor’s recommendation, permitting every Washingtonian a marijuana possession limit of 24-ounces per adult and extending citizens’ freedom to grow up to 15 plants in their homes. Additionally, medical marijuana patients would be exempt from the five nanogram/milliliter DUI THC-blood content limit currently in place.

Legally, it would offer retroactive clemency and future protection for those accused or convicted of all marijuana misdemeanor convictions, as well as lowering first-time marijuana offenses for minors to a civil infraction.

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