Today, Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles (D-Seattle) announced that she will be filing legislation this week to “align the currently unregulated medical marijuana system and that of the regulated recreational marijuana system”.
As part of this proposal, all current medical cannabis dispensaries would be shut down, patients would be able to apply for a tax-exemption waiver, and the number of licensees allowed under the recreational cannabis market would be increased. In addition, the measure would legalize the personal cultivation of up to six cannabis plants for everyone 21 and older, while simultaneously decreasing the amount of plants a patient can cultivate from fifteen, to six.
Although we strongly support legalizing the personal cultivation of cannabis for adults, we are adamantly opposed to combining the medical cannabis market with the recreational market. We believe that this will increase prices, decrease access and ultimately put a heavy, unnecessary burden on patients.
Even with a change in the licensing structure, it would likely take years before the recreational cannabis market would be in a position to provide proper access for the entirety of patients in our state. Medical cannabis dispensaries operating throughout Washington should be reasonably regulated, and given the opportunity to be licensed under the state as a medical cannabis safe access point. We feel that it would be a regressive move to shut these locations down, giving them no opportunity to continue providing for their patients, simply to bolster the recreational cannabis industry.
We appreciate the approach of providing a tax-exemption for patients, but requiring them to receive a waiver is yet another unnecessary burden. Medical cannabis should be tax-free to qualifying patients under all circumstances.
Overall we remain opposed to any legislation that would make life more difficult for those with serious, debilitating conditions, as we believe this proposal would do.
[Note: A similar proposal, Senate Bill 5052, has already been filed in the Senate, and is scheduled for a public hearing in the Senate Committee on Health Care on January 22nd. For the same reasons as mentioned above, we are oppose to this legislation.]