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Senate Bill 5052 Shaking Up Medical Cannabis in Washington

How do you solve a problem like Washington’s medical marijuana program? The Washington state House voted on Friday to approve Senate Bill 5052, and there’s been much buzz surrounding these controversial changes to the state's medical marijuana program.

In an attempt to reconcile the rivaling and often conflicting medical and recreational marijuana markets, the Senate passed one version of this bill and sent it to the House, where they made significant amendments. Lawmakers have hotly debated this bill, which, if passed, will make some drastic changes to medical marijuana dispensaries in Washington state.

It would seem that, in trying to appease everyone, they are appeasing no one. Representative Ann Rivers, the initiative’s author and co-sponsor, responded to criticisms by saying, “You know you’ve got a perfect bill when no one’s 100 percent happy.” They’ve included the controversially named “Patient Protection Amendment,” which offers legal protection but has patients up in arms as they watch their medical freedom slowly dwindling in the name of legal progress.

Here's a brief rundown of the ins and outs of this piece of legislation:

CONS:

  • Creates a medical marijuana patient registry
  • Reduces the legal amounts for medical marijuana possession to the following:
    • 3 ounces of dried cannabis (down from 28 ounces)
    • 6 plants (down from 15 plants)
  • Forces the closure of certain medical marijuana dispensaries

PROS:

  • Maintains a tax-exempt status for all cannabis purchases made by a qualifying patient
  • Possession limits may be increased with a physician recommendation
  • Provides legal protections for patients and providers – a surprising omission from Washington’s current medical marijuana policy

The real question here is will Senate Bill 5052 pass? The answer: Yes, it is very likely that this bill will pass.

If you are a Washington patient and you disagree with this bill, contact your senators or your representative and make your voice heard!