This is HUGE for Washingtonians. Have you heard the news? Perhaps not, so I’ll fill you in a bit.
On December 6, 2012, the law in Washington came into effect declaring recreational cannabis legal. With the passing of I-502, everyone in Washington could have an ounce in possession, and whatever other restrictions on tinctures and hases and the like. With a license for each specific tier, and at a 25% tax rate, a person could produce, process, or sell cannabis for/to the public.
When it was legalized, it was put under the authority of the Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB), who had no idea as to what they were doing, and openly said so. To gain better perspective, they held open forums all over the state, so that people that had questions, wanted to be heard, and/or needed to be heard could speak with them, publicly.
Think Piece Productions, the video company I’m involved with, went to most of these open forums. They were broadcasted, each one recorded, and we even got video of the whole thing ourselves, as well as many interviews with attendees.
At each one we went to, the same concern was voiced: What about the medical patients that use medical cannabis?
And each time, the answer from the WSLCB was the same, that I-502 had nothing to do with it, that it doesn’t say anything about medical, and that it was not their department to say what goes on with medical cannabis. This response brought great relief to many patients.
But oh wait! There’s more!
Not long after the rules were set in place for the initiative, the Liquor Control Board decided that taxes should be a part of medical cannabis, that dispensaries should be taxing donations.
Here’s where it gets a bit tricky –
Dispensaries are run on donations and compensation, not sales. It is run by patients for patients. This means that patients that grow cannabis for personal use can donate the excess to dispensaries, and the dispensaries can compensate the grower, or refund for the effort put into the product created. The the dispensaries supply medication to patients that are unable to grow their own, and the patient makes a donation to the dispensary.
What’s more, medical cannabis is not a prescription, which is why it is not supplied in pharmacies. It is a recommendation from a doctor. So, where as medicines cannot be taxed, it’s technically not a medicine, it’s a recommended suggestion. Therefore, it can be taxed.
The WSLCB – who has repeatedly stated to the public that it’s not their area – wanted to tax the transactions of medical cannabis.
Patients were livid – needless to say.
So with the backlash of it all, the LCB backed down, and agreed to not tax medical cannabis. However, another house bill was presented which stated that instead of being able to grow 15 plants per patient, that each patient would be allowed only 3, and could only have 3 ounces of usable product on them at any time. This would shut down growing co-ops (teams that have pooled recommendations together to grow for dispensaries) and dispensaries, meaning that patients would have buy recreational cannabis – the retail outlets of which have yet to come into fruition (so there’s no place to get anything legally).
Let’s pause, take a look at why it is so important for patients to be able to medical cannabis patients:
- They are using it for medication. Some are elderly, some are extremely straight edge except for this, and their dignity should be preserved out of respect of their ailment.
- There are different grades to cannabis, just as there are different qualities of alcohol, food, whatever else. It’s kind of like looking at organic vs non organic. The medical grade is a higher grade than recreational grade. Recreational grade allows for a certain percent of contaminants, where as medical grade does not. There is the issue of potency as well, and what types of potency. For example, the recreational user is most likely going to be after a strain that is high in THC, while some medical patients are after other effects, and would want low THC, but high CBD – which is better for pain management.
The best argument I have heard some one make was that just because Aspirin is over the counter doesn’t mean that medications for pain should no longer be prescribed.
With all this in mind, it has been announced that House Bill 2149 has been thrown out. So for now, Medical patients are safe in Washington. Hurrah!
“House Bill 2149 – which was approved through the House of Representatives with a 2/3rds majority – would have effectively gutted our state’s medical cannabis law by greatly reducing the amount of cannabis a patient can possess and cultivate, by forcing all patients to join a mandatory patient registry, and by shutting down all collective gardens (among other negative changes).
…The proposal stalled in the Senate Committee on Health Care, where a public hearing date was set for February 27th, before being removed from the docket after members of the committee received intense public backlash. With Friday, February 28th being the last day for the proposal to be heard – and with a 48 hour notice required for all public hearings – the proposal is officially dead in committee.”