Since the passage of I-502 in Washington, state legislators have been trying to figure out what to do with the unregulated medical marijuana industry. Everything from starting a patient registry to completely absorbing medical marijuana into the retail marijuana industry has been suggested.
The state’s urgency to settle the matter has been apparent but at the end of last years legislative season, lawmakers in Olympia were unable to produce a bill to guide and regulate medical marijuana. Before state legislators had a chance to reconvene this years, five bills regarding the regulations of medical marijuana had been introduced.
Earlier this week, yet another bill had been filed, this time by Sen. Ann Rivers. The bill would create licenses for medical marijuana dispensaries and require product testing that’s at least as strict as what the state requires in its recreational marijuana stores. But the medical stores could only sell edibles and marijuana concentrates, such as oil — no dried bud. The products would be sales-tax-free.
Senator River’s bill, titled Cannabis Patient Protection Act, would make a wide array of changes. Among them: creating a registry of medical marijuana patients and providers, and tightening restrictions on health professionals who authorize medical use. It would have the state Health Department determine what levels of THC, marijuana’s main psychoactive compound, and what ratio of THC to other compounds would be OK for products sold in medical outlets.
Many medical marijuana advocates are for regulation of the industry, but feel taking away a patients ability to purchase the flower form of cannabis would be a tax grab by the government and disastrous for patients. While lawmakers believe that the grey market fueled by the medical marijuana market is, in part, the cause of retail marijuana struggles in Washington.
Regulation will be coming to Washington’s medical marijuana market, the question now is what it will look like.