New legislation was filed today in Washington which would give Washington State’s Liquor Control Board the authority to regulate and license the medical marijuana industry. The measure, Senate Bill 5887, was introduced by Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom, and is co-sponsored by two other Republican Senators.
If made law, SB 5887 would establish medical marijuana dispensaries in the state which would be regulated and licensed through the Liquor Control Board; an entity that, to be frank, has no business regulating medicine. The measure would effectively trump the current “collective garden” model in the state by forcing those under that model to see a maximum of 10 patients a day, something that clearly isn’t workable for most, if not all collectives currently running in the state.
In addition, the measure would add further restrictions on the industry. For example: It would force all qualified patients in the state under the age of 18 to renew their recommendation every 90 days. Not only is this unasked for, but it adds a further financial burden on the parents who will need to pay for a renewal 4-times a year. Those over 18 would be required to get a new recommendation on a yearly basis.
The bill would also forbid doctors from having businesses that solely give medical recommendations: This is a great move if trying to appease to a public who may have worries, but in Washington State, no one’s asking for such a change, and making such a move would only make it more difficult for patients to become qualified.
Another alteration this bill would make is to the way recommendations are handled in the state, is that it would force medical professionals who give authorizations to list it on a person’s medical record. This is an intrusive move that alters current practices which allows an individual to be a qualified medical marijuana patient, without having it on their permanent medical record for future physicians to see.
Finally, among other small changes, the bill would institute a 20% excise tax for growers, which will likely translate quickly to additional costs for patients.
In Washington State, the medical marijuana industry is far from perfect, and the confusing “affirmative defense” statutes and “collective garden” models need to be improved upon. However, we have a hard time believing that the answer is to hand control to a board that’s sole responsibility has been handling alcohol.