Sunday, January 23, 2011

"Wash. debates big changes to medical pot system" (with video)

TVW, Senate Health and Long-Term Care Committee hearing on SB 5073, video (02:00:53).

"Medical Marijuana Bill May Face "Huff and Puff" But--Surprise--Support from Many Activists" (Nina Shapiro-Seattle Weekly):
Steve Sarich, a dispensary owner and enfant terrible of the medical-marijuana world, thus says that the bill "will immediately kill all dispensaries in this state," at least until 2012. And he plans to voice his vociferous objections at tomorrow's hearing.

But what's more remarkable is that, all questions aside, many activists seem to be coming out in favor of a bill that they once viewed with considerable skepticism. "We're really happy with the direction this is taking," says Philip Dawdy, spokesperson for the Washington Cannabis Association, a trade group of dispensary owners. Like others, Dawdy was initially wary of bureaucratic meddling.
"Holmes Asks Olympia to Allow Legal Pot Stores in Seattle" (Dominic Holden-SLOG):
City Attorney Pete Holmes can't be in Olympia today at the hearing for a bill to allow medical-marijuana dispensaries. Instead he wrote a six-page letter (.pdf), arguing that pot stores should be allowed, sick folks shouldn't be arrested, and even that he's in favor of "legalization, taxation, and regulation of marijuana for adult recreational use along the lines that alcohol is currently legal, taxed, and regulated."
"Bill would make life easier for medical pot users in Wash. state" (Chris
The bill would provide patients and providers who qualify with "arrest protection" if they don't have more than 15 cannabis plants and 24 ounces of marijuana (the current legal limit), have documentation showing that they qualify to use medical marijuana and that providers aren't using their product themselves.

Patients who qualify would be allowed to grow up to 15 plants for their own use; gardens being used by up to 25 patients would be allowed to have 99 plants. MORE...
"Wash. debates big changes to medical pot system" (Curt Woodward-The Olympian):
A dozen years after voters approved Washington's medical marijuana system, state lawmakers are debating major changes that would give patients greater protection from arrest and bring the supply chain out of a legal gray area.

Patients and advocates packed Thursday's meeting of the Senate Health and Long-Term Care Committee, which was discussing a bill proposed by Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle.

With a nod to federal policies that are now more tolerant of state medical marijuana laws, Kohl-Welles' bill would make sweeping changes while attempting to keep the supply chain from resembling the more wide-open markets seen in California.

"We don't want the big billboards. We don't want the neon lights in dispensaries," Kohl-Welles said.

A major element of her bill would give patients protection from criminal arrest. Current law offers less protection, giving authorized medical marijuana patients the ability to offer a defense in court if they're charged with possession.

Patients and doctors could enter information into a voluntary, secure database that law enforcement could access to check someone's authorization.

The bill also would address a conundrum in Washington's system: It's technically legal for a patient to possess pot, but the proper ways of getting the drug can be unclear. MORE...

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