Medical Marijuana Law Awaits Governor Gregoire's Signature

STATE HOUSE NEWS RELEASE -- With bipartisan support, the Senate concurred with the House of Representatives on a bill aimed at clarifying Washington’s law on the medical use of cannabis. The bipartisan measure was introduced by Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, and co-sponsored by Sen. Jerome Delvin, R-Richland.
"This is huge step forward in ensuring that qualifying patients have safe, consistent and reliable access to their medicine," Kohl-Welles said. "Currently, unless patients grow for themselves or obtain medical marijuana from a designated provider, the law doesn’t offer a legal pathway for patients to access their medicine. This bill creates a much needed regulatory framework so both patients and law enforcement have a bright line in knowing what is legal and what isn't."

“I am pleased to see the Legislature move forward on this issue and help bring some clarity for our law enforcement community,” said Delvin, who served as a Drug Abuse Resistance Education Officer in the Richland Police Department. “I do not support the legalization of marijuana, but our voters have said they want medical marijuana to be available to those suffering from painful and terminal medical conditions, and law enforcement needs direction about how to enforce the law while respecting the rights of medical-marijuana patients.”

“This bill will help end the frustration felt by police, patients and everyone involved in this system,” Delvin added.

Engrossed Second Substitute Senate Bill 5073 would strengthen current law originating from Initiative 692, which was approved by 59 percent of the voters in 1998. The measure would establish a regulatory system for the growing, sale and purchase of medical marijuana. Authorized patients with qualifying medical conditions would be able to purchase medical marijuana products from dispensaries licensed through the state Department of Health (DOH) or by taking part in a patient collective consisting of no more than ten authorized patients.. The state Department of Agriculture would create a licensing system for the growing of medical marijuana and DOH would do the same for dispensaries. The bill would:

• Establish a regulatory system for producing, processing, and dispensing cannabis intended for medical use.
• Establish protection from criminal liability, including arrest protection, for certain qualifying patients, designated providers, health care professionals, licensed producers, licensed processors, and licensed dispensers.
• Establish a voluntary registry in which qualifying patients and designated providers may enroll and receive protection from arrest and prosecution.

The bill now moves to the governor for her consideration.