Are Dispensaries Doomed?

State Work Group Attacks Medical Pot Shops, Rights of Patients

Are Dispensaries Doomed?
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In June, the state legislature created a work group to make recommendations on regulating medical cannabis, which has been legal since 1998 but remains largely unregulated, now that pot is also legal for recreational purposes. The work group consists of two members each from the state's health department, revenue department, and liquor board, as well as the governor's office and legislative staff.

Regulators have their sights set on gutting key portions of the state's medical marijuana law. In a legislative hearing last month, Department of Health spokeswoman Kristi Weeks said medical cannabis retailers have always been illegal, echoing opening remarks made by committee chair Representative Christopher Hurst, who asked, "What's it going to take to shut these all down?"

Next month, the legislature will receive recommendations on how to address its perceived medical marijuana problem, and a document obtained by The Stranger offers a glimpse into those options. The memo lists several "strategies" that would equalize rules for medical and recreational marijuana. Among them: reduce the amount patients can possess (currently 24 ounces), eliminate or restrict home growing, ban collective gardens, and eliminate certain legal defenses in court.

However, the document suggests keeping dispensaries in a "system parallel to recreational sales," and it concedes certain changes are unlikely. Removing organ transplant protections and parental rights for patients "would likely be met with great resistance," the document states.

The Department of Health confirmed it drafted the advice for the medical cannabis work group, but downplayed its significance. "The state Department of Health isn't proposing or recommending anything in the document; rather, we're providing advisory information on options that the legislature might consider as ways to eliminate some of the contradictions or conflicts within the marijuana laws," spokesman Donn Moyer told me.

But the work group's recommendations will be the starting point for debate this legislative session, and liquor board director Rick Garza said at last month's legislative hearing that options regarding "health care professionals and patients and the collective garden and the possession amounts we leave to the Department of Health."

Representative Hurst tells me he isn't considering any medical cannabis legislation at this point, not even to address dispensaries, which he predicts will scatter next year after getting raid notices from the federal government. But if the medical pot work group suggests any reform, he says, "I'd be happy to look at it." recommended


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As disturbing as I find this, I am more inclined to blame this on the wink-and-a-nod crowd who have subverted and supplanted the medical in MMJ, rather than this work group and their misguided efforts.
Posted by Trying My Patients on October 2, 2013 at 9:39 AM · Report this
You forgot to mention that this group has been working secretly to develop medical cannabis policy, behind closed doors, with no public input, since July. This is a clear violation of the Open Public Meetings Act and we have filed suit against them in Thurston County Superior Court to stop this illegal dismantling of the medical cannabis law behind closed doors.

Steve Sarich
Cannabis Action Coalition
Posted by CannaCare on October 2, 2013 at 12:35 PM · Report this 3
@2 Steve, I only have so many words in print and felt that the state's potential medical cannabis legislative strategy was the critical thesis here. The story about your lawsuit is worthy, to be sure, and I did mention that recently. I didn't simply "forget" to write you into the story.
Posted by on October 2, 2013 at 12:46 PM · Report this
ChuckChuck 4

Regarding the "the wink-and-a-nod crowd" you allude to; RCW 69.51a.085 clearly allows the exchange of money for medical cannabis.

Collective gardens.
(2) For purposes of this section, the creation of a "collective garden" means qualifying patients sharing responsibility for acquiring and supplying the resources required to produce and process cannabis for medical use such as, for example, a location for a collective garden; equipment, supplies, and labor necessary to plant, grow, and harvest cannabis; cannabis plants, seeds, and cuttings; and equipment, supplies, and labor necessary for proper construction, plumbing, wiring, and ventilation of a garden of cannabis plants.

So I am curious how do you think sick patients that need help now, not years down the road, should be accessing medical cannabis?

Perhaps you feel that you, or the legislature, or law enforcement know better than my doctor and I what is best for my seizures?
Posted by ChuckChuck on October 2, 2013 at 1:01 PM · Report this
Why is medical mj needed anymore after you can legally buy it from a store for recreational use?
Posted by anon1234 on October 2, 2013 at 1:20 PM · Report this
Steve is right. They are breaking the law making policy behind closed doors no matter what they try to call it. Its secret meetings on "How are we going to screw patients and take their cash?".

MMJ is not the "Problem". We are doing fine. The problem is them not making money off of sick people.

24 oz of cannabis will hardly make enough RSO to treat a patient for 60 days and plants need more time than that to be grown and harvested.

The MMJ community works to develop specific strains to meet individuals needs and puts them into forms that patients can use. We are a very compassionate group. I really dont think the state cares about any of that. Without dispensaries, a lot of people will not have access to this kind of service that they can afford.

They will be literately killing people with there greedy bogus policies.
I THINK Hurst is more concerned about who he is going to swap his wife with next than being a decent representative. Lets vote these guys out and get some decent people in there.
Posted by ivote on October 2, 2013 at 1:51 PM · Report this
Our state government has become a cesspool of scoundrels, scalawags and carpetbaggers! 502 was a scam! You got duped! You voted for marijuana legalization. What you got was more controlled prohibition and a per se duid law. Read before you vote next time, dummies!
Posted by BigBadBill on October 2, 2013 at 2:31 PM · Report this
420leaks 8
Great find, Ben! They refused to release any documents to me. Time to hit them with more public requests.

Our law is based on humanitarian compassion, a trait our state officials are completely incapable of understanding.

Thank you for reporting this!
Posted by 420leaks on October 2, 2013 at 3:01 PM · Report this
I think that by far, patients' rights to grow at home are the most important part of our state's medical marijuana law. It would be unrealistic to reduce the amount of consumable cannabis that a patient can possess without eliminating home growing, as 24 ounces can be obtained with just a few strong plants.

I think they need to publicly answer what their advice is to patients with limited mobility, or in cities/counties where dispensaries are already illegal, and that will vote not to allow recreational access points. Eliminating or reducing medical should be out of the question.
Posted by ZacC on October 2, 2013 at 3:44 PM · Report this
From the Washington State Attorney Generals Office:

3.2 Interpretation of the OPMA

As with all laws, the courts will attempt to interpret the OPMA to accomplish the legislature's intent. The OPMA declares its purpose in a very strongly worded statement.

Statutory Provisions: The legislature finds and declares that all public commissions, boards, councils, committees, subcommittees, departments, divisions, offices, and all other public agencies of this state and subdivisions thereof exist to aid in the conduct of the people's business.

It is the intent of this chapter that their actions be taken openly and that their deliberations be conducted openly. The people of this state do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies which serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know.

The people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created. RCW 42.30.010.
Posted by CannaCare on October 2, 2013 at 4:47 PM · Report this
Hey Ben,
Illegitimi non carborundum.
You are doing an awesome job as a journalist.
Fucking solid gold with that list, if true...
Posted by SolidGold on October 3, 2013 at 6:52 AM · Report this
Hey Ben,
Illegitimi non carborundum.
You are doing an awesome job as a journalist.
Fucking solid gold with that list, if true...
Posted by SolidGold on October 3, 2013 at 6:52 AM · Report this
ChuckChuck 13
Ben, Thank you for bringing this Department of Health document to light. Props to you buddy.

To be clear, there are no "contradictions or conflicts within the marijuana laws."

A person that "Has been diagnosed by that health care professional as having a terminal or debilitating medical condition" qualifies as a medical marijuana patient. RCW 69.51A.010(b)

A person, 21 or older, that is not a medical marijuana patient qualifies as a recreational marijuana user. I-502

There are greedy legislators that want to heavily tax medicine, sick people be damned. There are greedy prosecutors and cops that want a tightly regulated market for medical marijuana so that they can continue to police for profit by confiscating property from and populating jails with sick people. None of the greedy bastards are my doctors and they are neither qualified nor authorized to oversee my treatments. This effort to over regulate medical marijuana is all about power hungry psychopaths and their greed.

Tell you legislators that we don't need this BS.
Posted by ChuckChuck on October 3, 2013 at 9:52 AM · Report this
ChuckChuck 14
My sincere apologies to all the children of whores that have no idea of who their father is that are not prosecutors or cops.
Posted by ChuckChuck on October 3, 2013 at 10:06 AM · Report this
This document that this article is based on doesn't indicate who created it. How can we confirm the group that it instigating this plan?

I guess we know what the "Marijuana Work Group" has in store for us and why they want to exclude us from what should be a public process.

Where's Silent Bob Ferguson? Still silent?

Steve Sarich
Cannabis Action Coalition
Posted by CannaCare on October 3, 2013 at 2:41 PM · Report this 16
@15 Department of Health spokesman Donn Moyer confirmed DOH produced the document. It almost certainly came from one of two DOH staff on the work group.
Posted by on October 3, 2013 at 2:49 PM · Report this 17
Also, switch .pdf to .doc to get the original document.
Posted by on October 3, 2013 at 2:55 PM · Report this
@4 How can you confuse "the wink-and-a-nod crowd who have subverted and supplanted the medical in MMJ" (#1) with "qualifying patients" or "sick patients"?

I understand how people sick enough to qualify have enough on their collective plate without me foisting kicking out the recreational users out of the Medical Marijuana pool, but frankly I think that the bullshit crowd, who happen to be the typical MMJ recipient in the public mind, and worse those who enable and profit off them, are so much of the problem that it is virtually impossible to proceed without addressing the perversion of the system first.

As for your aspersion, if there is reasonable science backing it up, I am down for prescription versions of almost anything, otherwise legal or not. If you're receiving actual health care, what is so threatening about expecting those dispensing MMJ to be practicing actual medicine?
Posted by Trying My Patients on October 3, 2013 at 5:11 PM · Report this
420leaks 19
#18 Are you a doctor? Have you seen the huge list of diseases that cannabis helps? The human endocannabinoid system...look it up. Put the blame where it rightly belongs, on the state legislators and law enforcement lobbyists, not patients, doctors and providers.

The public mind voted for medical cannabis over a decade and a half ago and the new conditions that are clearly aided by cannabis has increased and patented that our state seems to want to ignore...

Here's a start.

Owned by the US Department of Health and Human Services since 2003:

US Patent 6,630,507 Cannabinoids as Antioxidants and Neuroprotectants

"Cannabinoids have been found to have antioxidant properties, unrelated to NMDA receptor antagonism. This new found property makes cannabinoids useful in the treatment and prophylaxis of wide variety of oxidation associated diseases, such as ischemic, age-related, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. The cannabinoids are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke and trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and HIV dementia."

In case you were wondering...

1. action taken to prevent disease, esp. by specified means or against a specified disease.
Posted by 420leaks on October 3, 2013 at 11:44 PM · Report this
How sad...once again old fights are being waged by the prohibitionists.. who insist there is no reason for medical access and structure within the law.

Let us present the Medical Academics who would come forward from across the nation to provide sworn testimony and free educational seminars for all of our legislators and community leaders...

If our elected officials..including Rep Hurst care about the sick and dying..the aged..the Veterans...the Baby Boomer’s..the Educated and Informed...the compassionate People of Faith..the 18-40 Voting Citizens...., then they will allow the MEDICAL AND SCIENTIFIC EXPERTS to come forward and allow science and common sense to rule...not back-door politics within the "good ole boy network".
Posted by medcannabis1 on October 4, 2013 at 6:30 AM · Report this

but frankly I think that the bullshit crowd, who happen to be the typical MMJ recipient in the public mind, and worse those who enable and profit off them, are so much of the problem that it is virtually impossible to proceed without addressing the perversion of the system first.

The " problem" is the country is run by thousands of ignorant fascists like you who want to stick your self righteous noses in people's gardens. Just sayin.
Posted by Bradn on October 4, 2013 at 8:31 AM · Report this
Why should MJ cost more than factory made ciggybutts? All WA has done is trade the Mexican mafia for a local, state approved mafia.
Posted by billwald on October 5, 2013 at 8:19 AM · Report this
What we are seeing now in Washington is a return of the "medical prohibitionists" within the legislature. I am now discussing with several advocate groups and leaders about a different approach than the past efforts. We the people far outnumber the supporters of cannabis prohibition..and as such the process is beginning to organize under one voice message..that medical cannabis programs are vital..cannabis collectives are necessary for many of us to maintain our health...the ability to keep Washingtons medical cannabis law in place is without question... That MEDICAL CANNABIS PATIENTS are using cannabis as the least toxic method of pain management and general wellness..
RECREATIONAL CANNABIS ADULTS are using for a basic social interaction...
I will be asking the Veterans of Washington state 500,000 to come together and end this persecution of the sick and suffering ..the military Veterans who have given so much in service of this nation..the good people of faith.. for whom this is a work of defined by the teacher the medical community..who know the medical efficacy of cannabis the Medical School Educators for whom your students need access to research... to the POLITICAL CLASS OF WASHINGTON...please take note..we are demanding you end your assault on medical cannabis programs, collectives and safe access points...we are the sick and suffering..we deserve your respect and compassion...and if you cannot understand are not worthy of being in any elected office at any level of public service.. It is that simple..and we need to unify and get this moving. This issue of cannabis prohibition will be the new Political litmus test for any elected office.
Posted by medcannabis1 on October 5, 2013 at 8:33 AM · Report this
24 Comment Pulled (Spam) Comment Policy
You can lay the blame for this directly at the feet of Mark Kleiman. Sabotage, pure and simple, was his entire intent as a consultant -- to make the implementation of 502 turn out to worse than complete prohibition and to cripple the MMJ law.

Write to every single legislator for whom you can obtain an email addy. Demand there be NO changes to the MMJ law and system (which has been working perfectly well for all parties involved since its inception). And while you are at it, demand the following changes to 502:
get rid of the unscientific DUID provision,
reduce the overly high tax on recreational cannabis (otherwise the black market will still be around and the whole purpose of the law was to rid the State of the black market in pot),
allow personal growing for recreational users,
reduce the arbitrary age limit from 21 to 18,
and make certain there are enough retail outlets to meet demand.
Posted by Azheera on October 5, 2013 at 4:48 PM · Report this
ChuckChuck 26
@18 I don't know what public's mind you are referring too. In every recent pole the vast majority of American's, coast to coast, support medical marijuana.

You say "I am down for prescription versions of almost anything." So if it's not blue, doesn't come in a bubble pack and isn't made by pfiser it's not "actual medicine?"
Posted by ChuckChuck on October 5, 2013 at 8:19 PM · Report this
27 Comment Pulled (Spam) Comment Policy
@19 That's all very nice and I tend to agree with much of it, so it's a shame it has very little to do with what I wrote.

Again, a lot of the problem is "the wink-and-a-nod crowd who have subverted and supplanted the medical in MMJ" (#1) and one of the most insidious parts is that they wrap themselves in arguments just like yours.

@21 I am not convinced you have the reading comprehension level to even begin to know what type of "ignorant fascist" I might be or have any clue as to what type of nose I have.

Again, a large part of the problem is that this shouldn't be about recreational use. Product safety, public safety and medicine are all different disciplines requiring different rules and regulations to promote the common good and individual freedoms.

@26 Actually, I was saying that with a few peer reviewed studies behind it, I think your doctor should be able to write you a prescription for a medical-grade blow job.

I am not surprised that you made the corporatist interpretation of that as that would seem to flow from the same place that would be confused about how MMJ could both enjoy wide spread support and still be viewed as widely abused by a bunch of stoners and profiteers.
Posted by Trying My Patients on October 8, 2013 at 8:55 AM · Report this
The city council im sure is getting influenced by those who see the medical market as a threat to the recreational market. The state of WA has a financial incentive to NOT allow medical pot as it will most likely hurt the recreational sales, more medical patients = less revenue, both tax revenue and sales revenue, for the state/city.

It is time for the dispensaries and patients to rally against this. Lets go, first rally tonight at 5pm!

Rally Tuesday 10/8 5pm:…
Posted by krisztinastar http:// on October 8, 2013 at 11:22 AM · Report this
Activists from around the state will gather today in front of the Seattle City Hall, 600 4th Avenue, at 5pm today, to demonstrate against the Liquor Control Boards secret meetings to end medical cannabis in Washington State.

This protest will then move inside for the Liquor Control Board's final meeting on their proposed rules for I-502 stores.

Various groups will be participating including members of the Cannabis Action Coalition and Seattle Hempfest. While some of these groups have been at odds in the past, the recent actions by the Seattle City Council and the LCB to end medical cannabis in this state have brought these groups together to stop state and city officials from ending the 15 year old medical cannabis law in Washington State.

Alison Holcomb and the sponsors of I-502 promised that the initiative would not negatively impact the medical cannabis law in Washington and instead they have been working behind the scenes with the LCB, law enforcement, and City and State officials to regulate medical cannabis out of existence. This will leave tens of thousands of sick and dying patients without safe access to medication that they desperately depend on.

Though the LCB has repeatedly claimed "transparency", several lawsuits have already been filed again the agency for violations of the state Open Public Meetings Action, as well as the state Public Records act, for holding numerous secret meetings with law enforcement groups and for withholding countless documents in violation of state law. Recently, another lawsuit was filed against the "Marijuana Work Group", made up of employees of the Liquor Control Board, Department of Health, the Department of Revenue and John Lane, the Senior Policy Advisor to Governor Jay Inslee. This "Marijuana Work Group" has been meeting secretly since July developing policies to alter the state medical cannabis law. The lawsuit charges that these secret meetings are being held in violation of the state Open Public Meetings Act and seeks to force these agencies to hold open public meetings, take public testimony, and to follow the mandates of the state OPMA.

These, along with several other ethics and legal issues will be brought up in public comments at the LCB's final public hearing in Seattle being held at 6pm at Seattle City Hall.

Steve Sarich
Executive Director
Cannabis Action Coalition
Posted by CannaCare on October 8, 2013 at 11:43 AM · Report this
@28 stop trying to over complicate shit talking outta your ass with that pseudo intellectual puke you picked up while spending too much time in school.

The only rules needed for herb are it should be grown organic. We don't need some fascist nazi saying how many plants can be grown by who or where or any other bullshit.
Posted by Bradn on October 8, 2013 at 9:52 PM · Report this
420leaks 32
@28 - The insidious part is the government patenting a plant for medical uses then arresting people who use it for medical uses.

I understand it is your intention to demonize patients and let the legislators off the hook for their failure to provide common sense regulations.

Humanitarian compassion...that's the foundation of the medical laws.

So is the 80 YO grandmother who uses cannabis to prevent strokes gaming the system, even though the federal government owns the patent on stroke prevention from cannabis use?

New research published at the national Institute of Health shows that one of the big issues with heart diseases is due to a cannabinoid deficiency. Is the 55 YO man who uses cannabis to prevent heart attacks gaming the system, even though the federal government has the medical studies on this use?

What about the 32 YO woman who just found out she is genetically predisposed to getting breast cancer wanting to use cannabis instead of having a voluntary double mastectomy? Since the Federal Government has known since the mid 1970s that cannabis kills cancer, is she gaming the system?

So again, the Washington State Department of Health refuses to look at the peer reviewed scientific studies and add these conditions to our medical cannabis act, and because the legislators continuously refuse to regulate it, you still want to blame patients for this mess?

I use it to stop seizures, in case you were wondering.
Posted by 420leaks on October 9, 2013 at 12:16 AM · Report this
33 Comment Pulled (Spam) Comment Policy
@32 How can you be so obtuse? Is it deliberate?

Not only is "this work group and their misguided efforts" (#1) not at the Federal level, under whose Supremacy Clause and War on Drugs they must operate, but "patients" are the clear antithesis of "the wink-and-a-nod crowd" to which I referred.
Posted by Trying My Patients on October 9, 2013 at 5:26 PM · Report this
35 Comment Pulled (Spam) Comment Policy
I voted NO on I-502, simply because of this huge can of worms being dumped on our laps. Wait until the State Patrol goes nuts arresting non impaired recreational users who took a couple of hits a couple of days ago. I'am 49, been a grower since I was 15, I've never been in a Medical Marijuana shop, probably never will. I sure as hell will never buy from a state regulated store or ever pay a tax on my smoke OR my tomatoes.
Posted by homedough on October 14, 2013 at 11:17 AM · Report this

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