Counter initiative filed about legalizing medical marijuana

OLYMPIA — Medical-marijuana patients who oppose an initiative to legalize marijuana filed a counter initiative Friday. Opponents of Initiative 502 filed the “Safe Cannabis Act” with the Secretary of State’s Office. Sponsor Mimi Meiwes said she and other medical-marijuana patients worry about what they see as an overly strict blood-test limit for driving under the influence under I-502. Initiative 502 would create a system of state-licensed growers, processors and stores, and impose a 25 percent excise tax at each stage. Those 21 and over could buy up to an ounce of dried marijuana; 1 pound of marijuana-infused product in solid form, such as brownies; or 72 ounces of marijuana-infused liquids. One element of the measure would make it illegal for a motorist to have more than 5 nanograms of THC, the active ingredient in cannabis, per milliliter of blood. Meiwes and others opposed to I-502 argue that medical marijuana patients’ levels vary depending on the body’s tolerance, putting them at greater risk of arrest.

“We don’t have a problem with legalization efforts,” she said. “But this is to protect patients.” The newly filed counter initiative has not received a number yet. A draft must be reviewed by the code reviser’s office, and then the sponsor must submit a final version. The new initiative would decriminalize marijuana for medical-marijuana patients, would provide patients and providers with protection from arrest, instead of the current law of “affirmative defense,” and would classify hemp as an agricultural product.Washington state already has a voter-approved medical-marijuana law that gives doctors the right to recommend — but not prescribe — marijuana for people suffering from cancer and other conditions that cause “intractable pain.” To qualify for the November ballot, sponsors must submit at least 241,153 signatures of registered voters by the evening of July 6.

A message left for supporters of I-502 was not returned Friday.The group sponsoring I-502 turned in signatures for its initiative to the Legislature last month. The Secretary of State’s Office is still counting signatures on that measure, but if it qualifies, it will go to the Legislature. Lawmakers would have to take action during the upcoming 60-day legislative session that begins Monday or the measure automatically goes to the November ballot.

via : Seattle Times

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