Changes to Washington state’s medical marijuana laws kick in today, Friday, July 22. But cities, counties, providers and patients are still trying to make sense of the new guidelines, a patchwork of confusing and often contradictory rules left by Governor Christine Gregoire’s hen-hearted line-item veto of legislation which would have regulated the shops.
The dispensaries have popped up all over the state in the past couple years, reports Liz Jones at KUOW
. But the changes in Washington’s medical marijuana law make dispensaries illegal, while authorizing “collective gardens” of up to 45 plants for up to 10 patients.
“You know, I’m getting phone calls constantly from people saying, what do I do, what do I do, what I do?” said Philip Dawdy, who worked with the Washington Cannabis Association during the past legislative session. He helped push for legislation that would have created a statewide system to regulate medical marijuana.
Gov. Gregoire’s partial veto of the bill has created a gigantic mess, according to Dawdy and practically every other person who is familiar with the issue. Cities and counties are interpreting the law differently, with some taking a lenient approach while others are banning the gardens.
“It’s going to depend on what jurisdiction you’re in, and what county you’re in, and what attitude your county prosecutor has,” Dawdy said. “We may have 39 different versions of this for each county. It’s frustrating. It’s very frustrating.”
Kent, Shoreline and Everett are among the cities that have already put a moratorium on the collective gardens.
Meanwhile, the Seattle City Council this week approved a measure to allow and regulate dispensaries and collective gardens, clarifying the city’s approach.
“All we’ve tried to say is that as long as you’re in compliance with all city licensing and code requirements, we’re not going to bother you,” said Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes.
Holmes said his talks with federal prosecutors lead him to believe patients will be safe if they’re seriously ill, have a medical authorization and grow their own small amounts. However, he’ll have to forgive some members of the patient community if they don’t feel particularly reassured learning that law enforcement, not medical personnel, will be deciding who is “seriously ill.”
Part of the change from dispensaries to collective gardens means providers will now need to track where the cannabis is grow and the patients who get it.
Liz Jones of KUOW asked Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna’s office for clarification on the state’s medical marijuana laws — but a spokesman responded that his office “is not involved in this issue.”
That’s what we’re facing in Washington, folks. Thanks to our hen-hearted Governor, we have a confusing and unclear medical marijuana law (which will result in lots of needless arrests), and meanwhile our spineless attorney general — who is supposed to be the top law enforcement officer in the state — doesn’t have the balls to even address the issue.