Archive for Medical Marijuana

‘Legislative Year in Review’ recaps the extended 2015 session

By | July 15, 2015 | 0 Comments

The state Legislature adjourned on July 10 after a record-setting 176 days. In this hour-long edition of “Legislative Year in Review,” we recap the highlights of the significant bills that passed — and failed to pass — during the regular and overtime sessions.

Lawmakers narrowly avoided a state government shutdown by passing a two-year operating budget that was signed into law just before midnight on June 30 by Gov. Jay Inslee. But the session didn’t end there. Senate leaders were drawn into an additional week of negotiations after a debate in the chamber over Initiative 1351, a class size reduction initiative passed by voters that came with a $2 billion price tag.

Senate Democrats and Republicans eventually reached a deal to delay implementation of the class size initiative for four years, while also suspending a new high school biology graduation requirement for two years. That agreement allows nearly 2,000 high school seniors who failed the exam this year to earn a diploma.

As part of the overall budget, college students will get a tuition cut and additional money will be funneled into early education and preschool with the Early Start Act.

Lawmakers also passed a $16 billion transportation package funded by a 11.9-cent gas tax increase that pays for projects across the state — marking the first time in a decade the state has made a significant investment in transportation infrastructure.

Also on the show: We recap debate over several bills that passed this year, including an oil train safety measure, an involuntary commitment bill known as Joel’s law, medical marijuana reform, the establishment of a new Washington State University medical school and a gun notification bill known as the Sheena Henderson Act.

Plus, details about the bills that generated heated debate but failed to pass — including the creation of a new type of payday loan, a proposed $12-an-hour statewide minimum wage, restrictions on initiative signature-gathering and eliminating personal exemptions for vaccines.

“Legislative Year in Review” airs at 6 and 11 p.m. every night on TVW through July 19. Or watch the show online below:

Medical marijuana regulations signed into law

By | April 25, 2015 | 0 Comments

Medical marijuana will have clear, statewide regulations for the first time since Washington voters legalized recreational use, under a new state law.


Gov. Jay Inslee signs medical marijuana regulations with the state’s youngest patient. Photo by Ashley Stewart.

Gov. Jay Inslee on Friday signed Senate Bill 5052 requiring licensed marijuana retailers to get special endorsements to sell medical products, changing rules for growers and creating a voluntary patient database.

It’s the only bill signed into law out of nearly 20 introduced this session to reconcile the state’s new, highly-taxed and regulated recreational market and the state’s medical marijuana market, which has existed in a gray area.

Inslee said this bill is a start. “As significant an accomplishment as this bill is for our state – and for patients to be ensured of having a safe place to get medicine they need – I know some remain concerned,” he said. “I recognize the solution is not perfect. However, I do think this is far better than today’s wholly unregulated system.”

Medical marijuana has been legal in Washington for 17 years, produced through collective gardens and sold through donation-based dispensaries. For the more than two years since voters approved Initiative 502, medical marijuana has existed without high regulatory and tax burdens that meant lower prices for patients.

Recreational retailers, meanwhile, have to follow licensing and other rules under the initiative. Now, medical stores will have to follow the same rules, with special requirements including a special endorsement from the state Liquor Control Board. Some patients worry the new law will mean they can’t afford the medicine they need.

Collective gardens, which allow growers to produce and supply as many as 10 patients with medical products, will be replaced in July with so-called cooperatives. As many as four patients will now be able to grow marijuana together, with a maximum of 60 plants.

The measure also creates a voluntary patient database, which supporters say will protect patients and retailers from arrest. Registered patients will be allowed to carry three times as much marijuana as recreational law allows. That’s 3 ounces of dry marijuana, with different amounts for other forms.

Unregistered patients can carry as much as recreational users.

Inslee vetoed parts of the bill he said were still unfinished and could cause confusion. Among the vetoed provisions, a plan to declassify marijuana from Schedule I — the most dangerous — and another that would have made the measure contingent on the passage of another bill.

The bill was signed hours before state lawmakers were scheduled to gavel out of the regular session two days ahead of schedule. Special session starts April 29.

Categories: Medical Marijuana

Medical marijuana bill passes both chambers, heads to governor for signature

By | April 15, 2015 | 0 Comments

New regulations for the state’s medical marijuana system have passed both chambers, after the Senate passed Senate Bill 5052 on a 41-8 vote Tuesday afternoon.

Medical MarijuanaThe Senate concurred with amendments passed by the House last Friday, which means the bill heads to Gov. Jay Inslee‘s desk for a signature before becoming law.

“This bill has been well worked and it’s been quite a journey,” said Sen. Ann Rivers, R-La Center, who sponsored the bill.

The amended bill will:

  • Require licensed marijuana retailers to obtain a medical marijuana endorsement to sell medical-grade marijuana to qualifying patients and designated providers.
  • Eliminates collective gardens and replaces them with cooperatives. Cooperatives may only have four qualifying patients or designated providers and must be registered with the Liquor and Cannabis Board.
  • Establishes a voluntary database of qualifying patients and providers. The bill also requires patients to obtain a recognition card for increased amounts of marijuana products and to be protected from arrest.
  • Establishes different amounts of marijuana that qualifying patients may possess depending on whether or not they have a recognition card or authorization from a health care professional for an additional amount.

SB 5052 also adds post-traumatic stress disorder and brain injuries to the list of terminal or debilitating medical conditions that qualify for medical marijuana and it changes the Liquor Control Board’s name to the Liquor and Cannabis Board.

Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, acknowledged Rivers’ work and said the medical marijuana rules needed to be updated after voters passed Initiative 502, which decriminalized recreational marijuana.

“We do need to have an alignment of our recreational system with our medical system,” Kohl-Welles said.

However, she was concerned that cities and counties are not getting enough from the marijuana taxes to cover enforcement, and that current medical marijuana dispensaries throughout the state will be able to enter the licensing system.

“Unless my vote is needed — I don’t think it will be — I’m going to be voting no, because I need to make that point for the patients,” she said.

Sen. Brian Dansel, R-Republic, said he was concerned that the bill will leave out many Washingtonians who are already using medical marijuana, under the previous, voter-approved system. He also voted no.

“All of a sudden they’re going to be criminals,” Dansel said. “I think we’re not getting this right. We’re going after the wrong thing.”

Sen. Jeannie Darnielle, D-Tacoma, voted for the bill, but expressed similar concerns that the list of conditions that qualify for medical marijuana leaves out many who already have a prescription.

“I felt we had an opportunity to include them in this bill,” she said.

She told the story of one of her constituents, who was prescribed medical cannabis after being the victim of a crime.

“She might not be included because of her conditions in this rather short sighted definition of who qualifies,” she said.

Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Kent, congratulated Rivers on her work on the bill, but said that she expected that lawmakers are not done with the issue.

“On the whole, I think we’ve made great progress,” she said.

The bill report is posted on the legislature’s website.

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.