Washington Legislature To Debate Expanded Medical Cannabis Law

A coalition of lawmakers in the Washington House and Senate has introduced legislation seeking to expand the state’s 12-year-old medical marijuana law and create greater legal protections for authorized patients, providers, and caregivers.

Senate Bill 5073 and House Bill 1100 seek to provide state licensing to medical marijuana producers and dispensaries in order to assure that qualified patients “will have access to an adequate, safe, consistent, and secure source of medical quality cannabis.”
The proposed laws do not in any way alter or amend patients’ existing rights to possess up to 24 ounces of marijuana for medical purposes, and cultivate up to 15 cannabis plants.
As introduced, the measure mandates the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health to create regulations allowing for the licensure of producers, processors, and dispensers of medical cannabis.
During the rule-making process, the state “shall consult with stakeholders and persons with relevant expertise,” including “qualifying patients, designated providers, [and] health care professionals.”
State sales tax will not apply to cannabis sold to authorized patients by licensed facilities.
The law also expands legal protections for patients and producers of cannabis-based medical products by redefining legal cannabis to include “products that contain cannabis or cannabis extracts… including, but not limited to, edible products, tinctures, and lotions.”
Moreover, it improves the legal situation for patients by adding protection from arrest and prosecution. Presently, Washington law only provides patients with an affirmative defense they can raise at trial, after enduring the stress and embarrassment of being arrested, searched, and hauled into court.

Under these proposed measures, qualifying patients and their caregivers who are compliant with the law are exempt from criminal arrest and prosecution.
Other provisions in the legislation seek to establish stronger protections for the parental rights of medical marijuana patients, and prevent workplace discrimination against patients.
SB 5073 has been assigned to the Committee on Health and Long-Term Care and has been scheduled for hearing on Thursday, January 20 at 1:30 p.m., in Senate Hearing Room 4 of the Cherberg Building in Olympia.
If you live in Washington, you can contact your state Senate and House members in support of these proposals by visiting NORML’s ‘Take Action’ Center here:
Additional information and updates regarding the progress of these measures is available from the Washington state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) or by emailing Alison Holcomb at holcomb@aclu-wa.org.
You can also become involved in marijuana law reform efforts in Washington state by contacting Washington NORML or visiting them on Facebook.
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