Washington: Sen. Kohl-Welles Introduces Medical Marijuana Reform Legislation
By Thea Chard, My Ballard
On Tuesday 36th District Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, along with Rep. Jim Moeller of Vancouver and bi-partisan support, introduced new legislation to clarify and provide a strong legal framework for Washington’s existing medical marijuana laws.
The bill, according to Kohl-Welles, reflects the tenth iteration since she first released it last February, incorporating input from patients, providers, advocates, health professionals, government officials, legislators, and law enforcement representatives.
The resulting legislation, Senate Bill 5073 and House Bill 1100 if made into law, would establish a regulatory system for the sale and purchase of medical marijuana to qualified patients.
Current law established under voter-approved I-692 in 1998 permits patients with specified terminal or debilitating medical conditions to grow medical marijuana for personal use or designate a provider to grow on their behalf. Legislation passed in 2007 resulted in the Department of Health setting the allowable amount of marijuana for medical use, and a measure passed last year allows all health professionals having prescriptive authority to authorize medical marijuana.
Under the new bill, the Department of Agriculture would develop regulations through a public rule-making process for growing medical marijuana. And, patients would be permitted to purchase medical marijuana products from dispensers licensed by the Department of Health or by taking part in a regulated patient collective.
"There is much ambiguity around our state’s current medical marijuana laws that is resulting in inconsistent enforcement throughout the state," Kohl-Welles said in a statement Tuesday. "Creating a statutory and regulatory structure for licensing growers and dispensaries will allow us to provide for an adequate, safe, consistent, and secure source of the medicine for qualifying patients, address public safety concerns and establish statewide uniformity in the implementation of the law."
Under the new legislation legally compliant patients and growers would be protected from arrest, search, and prosecution for the use of medical cannabis. The bill would also require law enforcement to consult a voluntary registry of patients before conducting warrantless searches or arrests, and registered patients would be protected against search and seizure, unless existing evidence indicated criminal activity was taking place.
Read more about Kohl-Welles campaign here, and the particulars of Senate Bill 5073 and House Bill 1100.