Washington House Passes Bill to Close Dispensaries, Reduce Patients’ Rights
With a 60 to 36 vote, Washington State’s House of Representatives has approved Senate Bill 5052, a proposal to close every medical cannabis dispensary in the state, in addition to other regressive changes. The proposal has already been approved by the full Senate, but will go back for one final vote given it was amended in the House.
If approved into law, the proposal would reduce the amount of cannabis a patient can possess from 24 ounces to 3, and reduce the amount of plants they can cultivate from 15 to 6. All dispensaries would be shutdown, with recreational cannabis outlets given the ability to apply for a medical cannabis endorsement from the state. The measure would also establish a patient database, which patients would be required to join to receive legal protections. If a patient doesn’t join the registry, they’ll only be able to possess an ounce, and cultivate up to four plants.
Sensible Washington, a nonprofit organization working to protect patients’ rights and end the drug war in Washington State, calls the proposal “ridiculous” and “regressive”, and says that it will “increase prices, decrease access and ultimately put a heavy, unnecessary burden on patients”. The group has been pushing for the passage of House Bill 2058, which would provide defined arrest protection for patients while giving dispensaries the opportunity to become licensed with the state. Unfortunately the proposal has yet to receive a public hearing in the House Commerce and Gaming Committee despite having bipartisan support.
If Senate Bill 5052 is approved in the House without additional amendments, it will be sent to Governor Jay Inslee for final consideration.