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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.

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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...

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