SEATTLE — Regulators in Washington State have proposed repealing most of the state's medical cannabis law to help ensure the profitability of the new recreational pot law.
Earlier this year, legislators quietly passed a budget amendment that called for three state agencies to study the issue and report back to the legislature. But Governor Jay Inslee—whose September meeting with federal prosecutors led to immediate changes to proposed pot rules—quietly sat his chief of staff on the legislative workgroup, and the recommendations were reviewed by the governor himself.
The proposal mirrors a draft document released by The Stranger earlier this month, and would eliminate patient home growing rights, reduce possession limits to a one-week supply, and remove a critical legal defense. The state would force existing dispensaries to close and require all patients to procure pot from newly-licensed legal pot stores. In exchange for registering with a state law enforcement database, patients would get a tax break on legal pot. To ensure patients comply with the new regime, the state would legally expire all existing medical cannabis authorizations the moment those new pot shops are up and running.
Initiative 502 sponsor Alison Holcomb, from the ACLU of Washington, told the Associated Press, "I just don't see the harm in allowing patients to have a personal supply." A spokesman for the cannabis industry lobby group that drafted and pushed for the original bill called the bombshell recommendations problematic, but told the AP they were "a starting point for negotiations."