Archive for Medical Marijuana

Medical marijuana regulations proposed in two separate bills

By | January 22, 2015 | 0 Comments

Lawmakers have been saying for the past few years that medical marijuana needs clear regulations as the state allows retail marijuana shops, which were made legal by the passage of Initiative 502.

The Senate in 2014 passed a medical marijuana bill written by Sen. Ann Rivers, R-La Center, with a number of amendments by Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, but the House did not vote on it.

This session, Rivers and Kohl-Welles once again proposed different bills that would create a medical marijuana system alongside the recreational market.

Rivers introduced Senate Bill 5052 before session. Among the proposed rules are:

  • Establishes a registry for patients and for medical marijuana stores.
  • Barring smoking products and smokable marijuana to be sold as medical products.
  • Exempting medical marijuana products from use tax and sales tax.
  • Allowing medical marijuana patients to have up to six plants — a reduction from the 15 allowed now — and allowing patients to grow their own marijuana.
  • Replacing collective gardens with registered growing cooperatives, where only members could participate with no monetary payment.

Rivers’ original language called for a medical marijuana retail license, but Rivers said Thursday she would change her bill to establish three types of stores: those that sell both medical and recreational; and those that just sell one or the other.

Kohl-Welles earlier this week held a press conference announcing Senate Bill 5519. SB 5519 would phase out the collective gardens and dispensaries and do away with the medical authorization system. The medical products would be available in marijuana I-502 retail stores.

  • Making low-THC, high CBD products tax-free
  • Making available an additional endorsement to show that a store has expertise in medical marijuana.
  • Allowing medical marijuana patients to have up to six plants.
  • Creating a waiver for marijuana patients who need more than six plants. The waiver also would allow for people to purchase of retail marijuana without sales tax.
  • Permitting anyone 21 and older to grow up to six plants or fewer for their own personal use. People may give to one ounce of usable marijuana that they’ve grown to another person without compensation.
  • Would not create a registry for patients.

Kohl-Welles emphasized that her bill shares similarities with Rivers’ bill.

“My colleague on the other side of the aisle, Sen. Ann Rivers, is also working hard on this issue and her legislation has many commonalities with mine,” Kohl-Welles said in a statement. “I anticipate that we will find a way to pass legislation that combines the best of both of our proposals.”

Rivers’ bill was heard Thursday, which also was Medical Cannabis Lobby Day at the Capitol.

Retailers, collective garden organizers, activists and patients testified to Rivers’ bill on Thursday both for and against the bill.

Ryan Day of Federal Way was one of the speakers on Sen. Ann Rivers' medical marijuana bill.

Ryan Day, who grows medical marijuana that stops the seizures of his six-year-old son, Haiden, said that getting rid of the collective garden system would make it difficult to provide his son’s treatment when their plants at home haven’t fully grown.

The type of cannabis that Day grows does not cause a high, which makes it hard to obtain on the recreational market, he said. Day said that he wants to work with lawmakers to create a system that gives options other than recreational marijuana stores for patients to get medicinal cannabis.

“I went to a recreational store. The interior reminded me of the basement in ‘That ’70s Show,’ ” Day said after the meeting.

TVW took video of the press conferences and the public hearing:

Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles press conference

Senate Health Care Public Hearing

Sen. Ann Rivers press conference

2014 Roundup: What bills passed, what didn’t pass during session

By | March 14, 2014 | 0 Comments

The Washington State Legislature adjourned shortly before midnight on Thursday, the final day of the regular 2014 session. It’s the first time since 2009 that lawmakers finished their work without going into an overtime special session.

Here’s an overview of what lawmakers accomplished — and didn’t accomplish — during the session.


Supplemental budget: Both chambers agreed on a supplemental operating budget that spends about $155 million, including $58 for K-12 books and supplies. It also adds additional money to the mental health system, early learning and prisons. It does not include any new taxes or tax breaks, nor does it include teacher pay raises.

Dream Act/Real Hope Act: The Dream Act allows undocumented immigrants to apply for state need grants to help pay for college. The House passed its version of the Dream Act on opening day. The Senate renamed it the Real Hope Act and added $5 million to the state need grant. It was signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee in February.

Homeless fees: As part of a last-minute deal, lawmakers agreed to extend until 2019 a $40 document recording fee that people pay during real estate transaction, such as buying or refinancing a house. The fee supports homeless shelters, affordable housing and other services and was scheduled to sunset unless the Legislature took action.

24 credit diploma: Starting with the class of 2019, high school students will have to earn 24 credits for a diploma. The current minimum is 20 credits, although some school districts require more than the minimum. The bill will also provide more opportunities for students to take career and technical classes that meet graduation requirements.

Tanning beds ban: Teenagers under the age of 18 would no longer be allowed to use tanning beds in Washington. Senate Bill 6065 bans minors from using tanning beds, unless they have a written prescription for UV radiation treatment from a doctor. Tanning salons would be fined $250 for violations.

Domestic violence: Washington residents under domestic violence restraining orders will soon be barred from owning guns. The bill says that someone who is under a protection, no-contact, or restraining order related to domestic violence must surrender his or her guns to law enforcement.

Drones: The Legislature approved a bill that puts limits government agencies that use drones, or remote-controlled monitoring devices, for surveillance. An agency may only use a drone after getting a warrant or under several exceptions, such as a fire or other emergency.

Religious holidays: State employees will be allowed to take two unpaid days off a year for religious reasons, and public school children will be excused for two days under a bill approved by the Legislature.

Military in-state tuition: Veterans and active duty military members will soon qualify for in-state tuition at Washington colleges and universities without having to first establish residency. Senate Bill 5318 waives the one-year waiting period for veterans, military members and their families.

Short-barreled rifles: Washington gun owners will soon be allowed to own a short-barreled rifle under a bill approved by the Legislature. It is currently a felony to own a gun with a rifle with a barrel shorter than 16 inches, or to have a modified gun that is shorter than 26 inches overall. (more…)

Medical marijuana rules pass Washington Senate

By | March 10, 2014 | 0 Comments

The Senate passed rules on medical marijuana over the weekend, and the bill is headed to the House.

Medical marijuana has been legal but largely unregulated since voters approved it in 1998. Medical marijuana has come under scrutiny by the federal government as the state prepares for legal recreational marijuana to go on sale in licensed stores, expected to start later this year.

Senators Ann Rivers, R-La Center, and Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, both sponsored bills this year that would combine the largely unregulated medical marijuana system with the more regulated recreational marijuana system, under the Liquor Control Board.

“This bill is the very best attempt to protect our patients and their rights and their access to their product while making sure that we meet the Initiative 502 guidelines that we voted on as an electorate,” Rivers said.

The Liquor Control Board also would be renamed the Liquor and Cannabis Board under the bill.

The Senate passed Rivers’ bill, SB 5887, on Saturday, with a number of amendments from Kohl-Welles, on a vote of 34-15.

The rules would include:

  • Medical marijuana would be exempt from sales and use tax, but still subject to a 25 percent excise tax.
  • Patients could have three ounces of marijuana, which is more than the one ounce allowed under recreational rules.
  • Cooperative grows could include up to four participants.
  • Individuals could grow up to six marijuana plants, or up to 15 if prescribed by a doctor.
  • Medical products could be purchased from retail marijuana stores with a special endorsement.
  • Starts a patient and provider registry and restricts access to the registry.

Kohl-Welles described the rules as  a start. Kohl-Welles’  SB 6542, which passed 40-8 on Saturday, would establish a committee that explores the cannabis industry, including a subcommittee on medical marijuana.

“With the regulated, licensed non-medical market opening this year, we are in uncharted territory with regard to legislating on this issue. I voted in favor of this bill because we need regulations regarding medical marijuana. But for the sake of patients, there is still work that needs to be done,” Kohl-Welles said in a prepared statement.

Rivers also said she expects the laws will be adjusted in coming years.

“The use of medical marijuana became legal in 1998, so I realize this bill would create a big change for people who are used to it being unregulated. But by not taking action to standardize quality and access, we are endangering patients who truly need a safe, legal, and consistent source of medical marijuana,” Rivers said in a prepared statement.

Sen.  Brian Dansel, R-Republic, objected to the bill, saying the bill was not what voters intended when they passed Initiative 502. Dansel also questioned whether local jurisdictions would have enough funding to deal with the impacts of the proposed regulations on the health and judicial system.

Sen. Mark Mullet, D-Issaquah, shared the latter concern, and voted against the bill.

“I was under the impression we were going to have the revenue share with cities and counties who are stuck with the enforcement of this issue,”  he said.

On ‘Legislative Review:’ Hemp farming, marijuana bans and lightbulb recycling

By | January 31, 2014 | 0 Comments

On Thursday’s edition of “Legislative Review,” we have details on two bills that would legalize hemp farming in Washington state. Supporters say the state is missing out on a lucrative hemp industry that produces everything from clothing to fuel.

We also recap debate in a House committee over a bill that discourages local governments from banning I-502 marijuana businesses. The bill was introduced in response to a Pierce County ban on pot businesses within its unincorporated areas. Plus, we have details on a recycling program for lightbulbs containing mercury.

Watch the show below:

On ‘Legislative Review:’ Medical marijuana bills, capital budget hearing & wage bills

By | January 22, 2014 | 0 Comments

On Tuesday’s 15-minute recap of legislative activities on “Legislative Review,” we have highlights from a hearing on two competing medical marijuana bills.

In addition, legislators heard public testimony about Gov. Jay Inslee‘s proposed supplemental capital budget, which pays for the construction of public buildings and other projects. We also have details from a hearing the House Labor committee on four wage bills, which supporters say will crack down on wage fraud.

Watch the show below:

Competing medical marijuana bills heard in Senate committee

By | January 21, 2014 | 0 Comments

Sen. Ann Rivers (R-La Center) and Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles (D-Seattle) have introduced two different bills that would regulate medical marijuana.

Medical marijuana, which has been legal but largely unregulated since voters approved it in 1998, has come under scrutiny by the federal government as the state prepares for legal marijuana to go on sale in licensed stores.

Medical marijuana advocates say that patients’ needs won’t be met by the I-502 recreational marijuana market.

Both senators say they want to protect patients’ rights.

Sen. Ann Rivers (left) and Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles speak to the Senate Health Care Committee about their different bills on medical marijuana.

“What this bill is not is an attack on medical marijuana. In my dad’s waning days, the only thing that brought him comfort was medical marijuana so I really want you to know that,” Rivers said at the Senate Health Care Committee meeting on Tuesday, which held a public hearing on both bills.

Kohl-Welles says the legislature must move past the stigma of medical marijuana and come up with a solution.

“My most important point to bring to you is we need to preserve access for legitimate patients that is safe, reliable and secure while also protecting public safety,” she said.

Both senate bills allow the following:

  • Patients can buy 3 oz., which is more than 1 oz. recreational limit
  • Patients can purchase without paying excise tax

SB 5887  by Rivers:

  • Allows 6 plants to be grown at home
  • Creates patient registry
  • Issues authorization cards

SB 6178 by Kohl-Welles:

  • Allows 10 plants to be grown at home
  • Creates verification cards for patients
  • But does not create a patient registry

A mix of supporters and detractors testified at Tuesday’s hearing. (more…)

Categories: Medical Marijuana

Medical marijuana initiatives seek patient protections

By | January 10, 2014 | 0 Comments

Medical marijuana advocate Kirk Ludden says patients who use medical marijuana products have fallen through the cracks as the state creates new laws for recreational pot.

So, Ludden, of Seattle, has filed several voter initiatives addressing medical marijuana laws this week, which address some of concerns over the recommendations made by the Washington State Liquor Control Board, the Department of Health and the Department of Revenue, which held hearings on the topic last year.

Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, as in past years, has plans to introduce protections for patients to state’s medical marijuana law in this year’s legislative session, she told Business Insider. And Rep. Eileen Cody, D-Seattle, already has introduced HB 2149, which will address medical marijuana laws and will be heard at the House Health Care and Wellness Committee at 8 a.m. Wednesday.

But, Ludden is tired by what he sees as past political interference that have curtailed attempts to restore the intentions of Initiative 692, the 1998 medical marijuana initiative. He said that he hopes the voters will have a chance to weigh in again on medical marijuana.

“This initiative would be the way we get our law back,” he said.

While recreational marijuana was decriminalized following the passage of Initiative 502 in 2012, marijuana has been available to patients with a doctor’s prescription after the passage of I-692.

While I-502 doesn’t change any medical marijuana laws directly, legislators asked the Washington State Liquor Control Board, the Department of Health and the Department of Revenue, to write new recommendations for medical marijuana.

WSLCB officials released recommendations in December, including the creation a medical marijuana registry for patients and providers, limiting the number of plants in a patient’s possession to six and subjecting medical marijuana to the same state tax as recreational marijuana.

Ludden says the recommendations drawn up by the Washington State Liquor Control Board doesn’t preserve the intent of the original medical marijuana initiative, and could be harmful for patients.

“We aren’t sex offenders,” he said. “There’s no reason for a patient to put his name on a list.”

Ludden added that a 25 percent state excise tax applied to marijuana could make the herb too expensive for patients, who have to pay out of pocket to buy it.

Ludden has filed several initiatives to the voters this week, which include protections such as establishing a separate state board for medical marijuana, exempting medical marijuana from the excise tax and allowing patients to grow up to 15 plants. You can see the initiatives as filed on the Secretary of State’s website.

Supporters of the initiatives, which have not yet been assigned numbers, will have to collect at least 246,372 signatures of registered voters and turn them in to the Washington Secretary of State’s Office by July 3 in order to make the November ballot.

You can watch a 2013 hearing on medical marijuana recommendations in TVW’s archives.

Eyman initiative demands constitutional amendment vote on tax hikes

By | January 6, 2014 | 0 Comments

Initiative activist Tim Eyman proposed a new voter initiative Monday that would cut $1 billion a year from the state budget unless the Legislature sends voters a constitutional amendment that would require a two-thirds vote to raise taxes.

The Washington Supreme Court ruled last year that the two-thirds “supermajority” requirement violates the state constitution because a bill requires a simple majority vote of the Legislature to pass. The high court said a constitutional amendment would be necessary to implement the two-thirds requirement.

If voters approve Eyman’s initiative, the proposal would cut the state’s sales tax from 6.5 percent to 5.5 percent, or about $1 billion dollars a year, unless the Legislature puts a two-thirds constitutional amendment on the ballot by April 2015. If the constitutional amendment reaches voters by April 2015, the sales tax reduction never will go into effect.

“Our initiative gives the Legislature an impossible-to-ignore financial incentive to let us vote. It’s elegant, legal, and easy to explain,” Eyman said in a press release.

Eyman’s initiative was among six filed at the Secretary of State’s office Monday. Other initiatives filed Monday include:

  • Two other Eyman-sponsored  initiatives, including one that would restore $30 car tabs and eliminate cameras used for issuing tickets for speeding and red-light violations, and another that would outlaw such cameras unless approved by voters;
  • Two medical cannabis initiatives that would create legal protections for patients with prescriptions for medical marijuana;
  • An initiative that would show state support for a U.S. Constitutional amendment to prevent corporations from being considered citizens.

The full text of the initiatives filed Monday are available on the Secretary of State’s website.

Initiative sponsors have until July 3 to submit 246,372 valid signatures from registered Washington voters before they would appear statewide in the November general election.

Washington begins accepting applications for marijuana businesses

By | November 18, 2013 | 0 Comments

At 70, retired state worker James Brown is embarking on a new career: Marijuana grower and processor.

The Olympia resident was one of a handful of people who submitted paperwork in person at the Dept. of Revenue on Monday morning, the first day that entrepreneurs could apply for a marijuana business license.

James Brown (right) asks questions about the marijuana application process Monday at the Dept. of Revenue

“It’s a new adventure,” said Brown, who already has financing and a construction plan in place for his pot-growing operation in Thurston County.

“We’re ready to start putting out product,” he said.

Representatives from the Liquor Control Board, Dept. of Revenue and Secretary of State’s office were on hand to answer questions people had about the application process.

They said most people appeared to be applying online — more than 50 applications were submitted online in the first hour alone.

Monday was the first day of a 30-day window to apply to become a marijuana producer, processor or retailer. There’s no limit on the number of producers or processors, but the state has capped the number of marijuana retail stores at 334.

The Liquor Control Board will begin reviewing the applications later this week. An application could be denied if the applicant has a criminal history, questionable financing or an objection from the local government.

Marijuana retail stores are expected to open in June as part of Initiative 502, which legalized pot in Washington state.

Going into the marijuana business isn’t just about money for Brown. He says it will provide supplemental income to his retirement and social security benefits. But mostly, it “gives me something to do.”

Brown, who is retired from the Dept. of Labor and Industries, said he saw the benefits of marijuana after members of his family suffered injuries in three separate car crashes.

For more about the marijuana application process, tune in to “The Impact” on TVW on Wednesday at 7 & 10 p.m. to meet a Seattle resident applying for a license and see his operation site.

Medical marijuana advocates want the Legislature to allow home grows

By | November 14, 2013 | 0 Comments

Medical marijuana patients in Washington say they should be allowed to continue growing pot at home or in collective gardens, arguing that they have special needs that won’t be met by the state’s legal market.

More than 100 patients packed a hearing Wednesday evening to testify on a set of recommendations proposed by three state agencies on how to regulate the medical marijuana industry. The meeting was raucous at times, with speakers frequently interrupted by cheers or jeers.

The Liquor Control Board, Department of Revenue and Department of Health released a draft proposal in October of their recommendations, which would effectively eliminate the medical marijuana dispensaries that are common throughout the Puget Sound.

The state agencies have called for eliminating home grows, reducing the amount of pot that a patient can possess to three ounces (the current limit is 24 ounces) and creating a mandatory state-run patient registry.

“These recommendations are awful and unacceptable,” said Philip Dawdy of the Washington Cannabis Association at Wednesday’s hearing.

Dawdy and others argue that the legal I-502 market will not be able to handle the needs of medical marijuana patients, who prefer products with high cannabidiol (CBD) levels — which provides relief from chronic pain — but low in THC, the psychoactive component.

Home grows and collective gardens are the source of “innovation” in the medical marijuana industry, Dawdy said.

The Liquor Control Board has received more than 850 written comments about medical marijuana during the public comment period that ended this week. An additional 122 people signed up to testify at Wednesday’s hearing.

The agency said the No. 1 concern it received was about the elimination of home grows. Patients also said the three ounce limit was too small, and asked for medical marijuana dispensaries to remain open.

The Liquor Control Board will adopt revised recommendations in December. A final draft will be forwarded in January to the state Legislature, which is expected to take action on the issue next session.

Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, is drafting legislation to regulate the medical marijuana industry. A legislative aide spoke on her behalf at Wednesday’s meeting, saying that Kohl-Welles wants to allow home grows and collective gardens.

Kohl-Welles supports the three ounce limit, but prefers a voluntary patient registry instead of a mandatory one.

TVW taped Wednesday’s public hearing — watch it here.