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Washington Implements New Cannabis Laws: What’s Changed for the Evergreen State?

Today the state of Washington is implementing new cannabis laws that will change its medical marijuana program. Washington has made headlines throughout most of 2015 as the state attempted to regulate its medical marijuana industry, ultimately passing Senate Bill 5052 and raising the ire of thousands of medical marijuana patients who are unhappy about the new restrictions.

The latest changes that take effect today include the following:

  • Medical marijuana processors are prohibited from using butane gas to manufacture butane hash oil (BHO), although I-502 licensed recreational processors are still allowed to use butane to process BHO at a state-certified facility (butane extraction must only be conducted by individuals who are licensed by the state's Liquor and Cannabis Control Board.
  • A qualifying condition for medical marijuana must be assessed and evaluated by a physician in person at his or her permanent business location. The physician has to determine that the condition is severe enough to substantially impact the patient's daily quality of life and basic functions.
  • Any healthcare practitioner who writes more than 30 medical marijuana authorizations each month has to report the number of authorizations granted to the Washington State Department of Health.
  • PTSD and traumatic brain injury are now acceptable qualifying conditions for medical marijuana.
  • Moving forward, medical marijuana authorizations must be written on a departmentally-developed form printed on tamper-resistant paper.
  • Healthcare practitioners can't operate a practice with the sole purpose of authorizing medical marijuana recommendations.
  • A single housing unit is limited to growing a maximum 15 cannabis plants regardless of how many patients or designated providers live there.

Additional rules concerning licensing, product testing, proper labeling, possession limits, updated collective garden requirements, and the phasing of medical marijuana facilities into licensed retail stores will take effect July 1, 2016.