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Sneaky Anti-Medical-Pot Bill

Committee Passes Bill in Just 30 Seconds that Would Repeal the Core of Washington's Medical Marijuana Laws

Sneaky Anti-Medical-Pot Bill
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Medical marijuana activists were blindsided when the state senate's Health Care Committee surreptitiously passed a bill last week that would repeal the core of Washington's medical marijuana laws.

HB 2149 had been scheduled for a public hearing on February 27, but the day before—the same day The Stranger suggested calling the legislative hotline at 800-562-6000 to oppose the bill—lawmakers canceled the hearing. This led medical cannabis advocates to breathe a sigh of relief, only to be shocked when, 86 minutes into the committee hearing, lawmakers passed the bill in all of 30 seconds.

In addition to outlawing storefront medical marijuana dispensaries, the bill, which already cleared the state house, would (1) repeal the primary legal defense that patients may raise if prosecuted, (2) drastically reduce the amount of medical cannabis that patients may possess and the number of plants they may grow, (3) repeal the right of patients to grow together in small groups, and (4) create a mandatory government registry for pot patients.

A similar proposal, SB 5887, is also moving forward, despite the controversy.

If passed, the bills would gut many of the state's protections for the sick and dying who use cannabis under a doctor's care. The bills are ostensibly tailored to appease US Attorneys Jenny Durkan and Michael Ormsby, who vaguely threatened to conduct raids if the state doesn't rein in storefront medical pot shops.

But the bills are no surgical strike on medical dispensaries; they actually target the "affirmative defense" in the medical marijuana law, which allows patients and care providers to raise a legal defense before a judge—a keystone of our voter-approved medical pot law that has nothing to do with dispensaries.

Last year, when The Stranger obtained documents outlining the state's plans to gut the medical cannabis law, the ACLU of Washington vowed to protect the right of pot growers to raise the affirmative defense at trial. ACLU criminal justice director Alison Holcomb, who also wrote the 2012 initiative that legalized cannabis for adult recreational use in Washington, said at the time, "The ACLU opposes elimination of home growing and the affirmative defense."

But now, Holcomb says the organization is officially neutral on the anti-medical-marijuana proposals, even though the bills would revoke those legal defenses for pot-growing patients who don't register with a proposed state database.

For now, HB 2149 and SB 5887 are moving forward, in some cases without public testimony. recommended

 

Comments (27) RSS

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1
Ben, your credibility is waning fast. Saying that the bill reduces the number of plants patients may grow to three (3) is a blatant misstatement of fact. The bill permits patients to grow six (6) plants, only three of which may be in bloom simultaneously.

Articles like this make me yearn for the days when Josh was news editor and fact checking was stringently enforced. Dominic: get a handle on Ben Livingston. He has a very casual relationship with the facts.
Posted by bioavailable on March 5, 2014 at 10:38 AM · Report this
2
@1- bullshit. The bills do exactly what Ben says, reduce the amount one can grow, which is currently 15 plants. You are the one ith a tenuous grasp of the facts.
No one voted to close medical dispensaries. The people of Washington voted to increase access to marihuana for casual use, with the state empowered to regulate sales, distribution and taxation. No one who voted to end our current draconian laws about marihuana did so with the intent of ending access to medical marihuana. No one. Both of these bills are a direct slap in the face to the public and to the concept of democracy.
Posted by Pol Pot on March 5, 2014 at 10:56 AM · Report this
Sir Vic 3
@2 This is how the WA state legislature works. If an Initiative or Proposition could potentially have negative consequences, that's all the legislators will care about.

When the $30 car tab Initiative was on the ballot, lawmakers warned that cutting the tab fees would hurt the budgets for transportation, ignoring the actual point of the law. So, when I-695 passed, the first thing the legislature did was start gutting the budget for transportation, asserting that screwing public transit was the voters' true intent. Of course, when it was ruled unconstitutional, the legislature didn't go back and restore the transit funding.

Basically, count on Olympia to make the worst possible conclusions about the results of a popular vote.
Posted by Sir Vic on March 5, 2014 at 11:22 AM · Report this
4
@2, Sec. 12(1)(a) of HB 2149 (Engrossed Second Substitute) provides: "[t]he qualifying patient [may] possess no more than three flowering marijuana plants and three nonflowering marijuana plants..."

As you may not know, 3 plus 3 equals 6. Either you and Ben are idiots, or you reside on a planet where the laws of arithmetic do not apply.
Posted by bioavailable on March 5, 2014 at 11:39 AM · Report this
5
Actually, when you consider that a doctor may authorize MORE than 6 plants total if the patients requirements call for more, this offers even greater ability for the truly sick to maintain their access to medicine. BTW, not "sneaky" at all, simply following the rules of order and procedure..... Another example of sleazy journalism using propaganda buzz words to inflame egos.
Posted by pupuguru http://www.godsweed.org on March 5, 2014 at 11:56 AM · Report this
COMTE 6
I realize this is being driven to some extent by a Legislature scared shitless by the Feds, but the movement toward universal legalization is clearly on the ascendant. Sounds like it's time for (yet) another Initiative to restore the gutted language we voted for by Initiative in the first place.
Posted by COMTE on March 5, 2014 at 12:01 PM · Report this
7
Poo-flinging primate @1 and 4: As you may not know, 6 is less than 15. Currently, Washington residents with a medical marijuana authorization can grow up to 15 plants. How do I know this? Because my Medical Marijuana Authorization clearly states that I am allowed to grow up to 15 plants.
Now one may have a discussion about whether that is a reasonable amount, and whether or not the state has a valid reason to reduce it to 6 or 9 or 2 or some other number less than 15. Reasonable arguments can be made in that regard.
You, however, are not trying to make a reasonable argument about that. You are merely trolling over what you view as an inaccuracy. Unfortunately for you, the inaacuracy is totally yours.
Fling your poo elsewhere.
Posted by Pol Pot on March 5, 2014 at 12:04 PM · Report this
meanie 8
@6 restoring patient rights, or expanding home grow legality to all citizens, would easily pass an initiative.

This is a stupid attempt to look good to the feds, which will force the hand of voters. well done jerks.
Posted by meanie http://www.spicealley.net on March 5, 2014 at 12:05 PM · Report this
9
@7, I never said that the bill did not reduce the max number of plants a patient can grow. And as @5 correctly stated, the bill allows patients to exceed its limits if their doctor specifies that a higher number of plants is needed.

@7, I'm of the opinion that pointing out that something described as X which in fact is Y is not trolling. Particularly when Y = 2X. Particularly when an incorrect fact is used to reinforce the writer's central claim, which is the case here.

Also, @7, please direct me to my inaccuracies. As you may have gathered, I care about the truth.
Posted by bioavailable on March 5, 2014 at 12:25 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 10
Why are you surprised?

They've been forced to do the right thing at every step of the way so far.

Keep pushing.
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on March 5, 2014 at 12:54 PM · Report this
Dominic Holden 11
@1, 4, & 9: You wrote, "Saying that the bill reduces the number of plants patients may grow to three (3) is a blatant misstatement of fact."

Ben made no such statement, in this article or any other. This week he said the bill would "drastically reduce" the number they may grow. That is correct. Currently patients may grow up to 15 plants; this bill would reduce it to three flowering plants and a total of six plants. And last week, Ben reported that the bill would "reduce plant limits from 15 to 3 blooming plants." This is also correct.

So you are wrong. Thanks for playing.
Posted by Dominic Holden on March 5, 2014 at 1:22 PM · Report this
12
@1 Where do you even see in the article that he says it is reduced to three?

The (3) in the text is referring to the 3rd thing the bill will do, not that the number of allowable plants is reduced to three.
Posted by LetoAtreidesII on March 5, 2014 at 1:46 PM · Report this
ben@hemp.net 13
@1 @4 @9 Not sure how you managed to read something in my article that was completely not in my article then start bashing me for lying based on your made-up shit. I'm also not sure how you managed to so strongly keep arguing with people who pointed out your inaccuracy. If anyone needs a fact checker, it's you.
Posted by ben@hemp.net on March 5, 2014 at 1:57 PM · Report this
ben@hemp.net 14
@5 Sam, if you consider it "simply following the rules and procedures" to cancel a public hearing on HB 2149 in the midst of communal uproar, then pass it anyway 86 minutes into that hearing, well, I think I'll just let your argument speak for itself. Sorry to hear you so strongly support a bill to revoke the affirmative defense for medical cannabis patients.
Posted by ben@hemp.net on March 5, 2014 at 2:02 PM · Report this
15
#12, I think you are correct.
Posted by David Tatelman on March 5, 2014 at 2:05 PM · Report this
16
mea culpa

I mistook the "(3)" as designating the number of plants and not the third point. My apologies to Ben Livingston, Dominic Holden, and Pol Pot.

But given Ben's characterization of the plant reduction in his last article ("Reduce plant limits from 15 to 3 blooming plants,"), you might understand why i jumped to conclusions.

(http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/kill-…)

Lesson learned. Carry on.
Posted by bioavailable on March 5, 2014 at 2:24 PM · Report this
420leaks 17
Thanks for the honest reporting on this, Ben! Finding press interested in reporting the truth on this story has been a near impossible task. Much appreciation from a newnon-indusrty patient. I've already lost the ability here in LFP by ordinance to collectively grow.
Posted by 420leaks http://420leaks.org/ on March 5, 2014 at 2:36 PM · Report this
420leaks 18
Phone typo...not a new patient lol
Posted by 420leaks http://420leaks.org/ on March 5, 2014 at 2:42 PM · Report this
19
I'm a young patient, suffering from two terrible digestive illnesses that have completely affected my ability to lead a "normal" life. I very nearly needed to leave the workforce for good in my early 30s due to my illnesses, but with the use of medicinal cannabis have been able to get back to work.

My doctors from the UW have me on a variety of medications, but the most effective medication they've recommended by far is cannabis. It handles the severe pain, slows the cramping, stops the nausea immediately, gets me eating on days where food aversion is taking its toll, and can turn a bad symptom day around completely. No other medication comes close to handling my symptoms than this one plant. It gives me the ability to have a job and function like everyone else, which I consider to be a big deal.

The people of my state granted me this herbal medication in an act of compassion towards me. Our cowardly representatives, many of them Democrats!!- have taken it upon themselves to undo the will of the people of Washington state. They are reaching greedy fingers into my empty pockets, trying to tax medication I need to survive at 60-75%+. I'm barely scraping by as it is and cannot afford that increase! They want to treat me like a criminal, forcing me to join their registry that is NOT protected by HIPAA-- how is this even legal? I'm sick, not a criminal!

Growing is not an option for me where I live. The closure of the dispensaries will eliminate my access to my medication. The concentrates that take the severe nausea away in just one breath will be taken from me. I've lived my life always trying to be a good, law-abiding person, and I feel that my representatives are driving me underground, forcing me to consider criminal acts. All of the hard work I've put into getting back to work is being threatened and possibly upended in one swift gesture by the people who are supposed to be representing me. This whole ordeal is sickening and disturbing.

I have been writing and calling my representatives for weeks now, and am completely disheartened by their callous and greedy actions. I'm sick of people telling me how I'm somehow faking this and claiming I'm not a legitimate patient. Until you've reviewed my colonoscopy reports, pages upon pages of medical documentation and test results, bagfuls of empty medication bottles- you have no right to question a person's legitimacy! Protip: nobody would choose the life I'm living now, including me. I'd much rather be healthy and would happily pay whatever taxes the state felt was best for recreational use.

I am a real patient, a real person that is going to lose access to a simple plant that helps me to survive should these bills pass. I'm facing losing my job and livelihood, because without the meds I need to survive I cannot be a functioning human being. And for nothing more than greed, they want to take money from those who can least afford it. MY ILLNESSES ARE NOT AN ECONOMIC BOOM FOR THIS STATE!!!
More...
Posted by Zen on March 5, 2014 at 4:34 PM · Report this
20
Well-said #19, I am a legitimate cannabis patient as well with thousands upon thousands of dollars in medical bills from all the surgeries and procedures that have needed to be done on me. I understand that WA needs to demonstrate that cannabis can be an economic boom for a state in order to help other states more effectively move forward with the greater legalization movement, but it is ABSOLUTELY WRONG to do it on the backs of the most sick, poorest (from medical bills as well as lost work), most vulnerable people, and the only group that actually NEEDS affordable, accessible cannabis. Without being on a government registry, and with our full rights as American citizens and human beings. Doctors prescribe opiates and amphetamines so readily and yet none of those patients have to be on a registry! This is downright tyrannical and inhumane and will increase the suffering for people who are already suffering greatly!
Posted by TiredOfBeingOppressedForBeingSick on March 5, 2014 at 6:40 PM · Report this
murphtall 21
productions prices (not retail prices at collectives unfortunately) have been dropping every year now for the past five years. Wholesale is now about $4 a gram and rest assured it will drop like a rock when competition picks up here in about 30 days. If wholesale is a buck and its taxed 25% and the shops then add a ridiculous $2 and tax it its still under $5 a gram. whats happening now is the shops buy $4 grams and charge ten and pay no taxes, which is untenable. and cruel. and is harming the very patients they thinly pretend to care about as they are raping them for profit and greed. I was in this industry before it was above board and in 30 years i've seen a lot and what i've seen the past year perpetrated by shops under the guise of giving a fark about patients is by far the most egregious and reprehensible malarkey ever!
Posted by murphtall on March 6, 2014 at 10:54 AM · Report this
22
everyone please go to rally Monday to kill sb5887 visit cannabis action coalition face book page for more info thank you
Posted by kill sb 5887 rally Monday on March 6, 2014 at 9:08 PM · Report this
23
The biggest graveyard in America is the trashbin of FAILED Initiatives in Washington state.

Any Washingtonian that uses the phrase "will easily pass an initiative" indicates that they are not in contact with reality. Consider that I-502 cost over $3.5 million USD and that most of the necessary signatures were acquired in the final week b4 deadline. In Washington state there is no such a thing as "we'll just pass an initiative" - It's a FALSE HOPE that merely acts to dilute a necessary response NOW!!!
Posted by El Dorado on March 7, 2014 at 9:17 AM · Report this
24
I'm watching this from out of state and can only ask what in the name of holy hell are you people doing, or not doing? PUBLISH the names of the people responsible for this. PICKET their offices. SHAME them. Petition them. And fuck the US Attorney!
Posted by CalWatcher on March 8, 2014 at 7:52 AM · Report this
25
Does not matter whether legal or not. I will pretty much do as I please in my own home, including growing weed, owning a switchblade, distilling tax free alcohol. what bs laws our "people" can come up with at times...JEEESH!!!
Posted by shiatbiatch on March 10, 2014 at 11:30 AM · Report this
26
This is horseshit (of course) and is REALLY bad over here east of the mountains. Many cities and counties are banning legal marijuana and this bill will essentially make medical illegal as well.

So a system that was serving us well gets replaced by no system at all, and I'm supposed to be OK with this?
Posted by kbatku on March 11, 2014 at 7:02 PM · Report this
27
Hey Stranger,

Unless the Constitution of Washington State is changed, this action against the medical cannabis law is ILLEGAL.

Section II Article 19 states:

BILL TO CONTAIN ONE SUBJECT. No bill shall embrace more than one subject, and that shall be expressed in the title.

This is an illegal action and I am very surprised no news outlets anywhere are asking leaders across our state if we have a state Constitution or not.
Posted by Moiraine on March 13, 2014 at 7:55 AM · Report this

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