Washington State Activists Seek To Finally Protect Patients From Arrest
During the current legislative session Washington State legislators will be considering House Bill 1084, being referred to as the Ric Smith Memorial Act. The name is in honor of the recently deceased activist, who many saw as a hero within the cannabis reform movement.
With the passage of Initiative 502 in November, some may see this as unnecessary, but in reality it’s big, long-overdo step forward for patient protection. Under I-502, portions of which took effect on December 6th, 2012, patients (as well as anyone 21 or older) now have arrest protection for possession of up to an ounce of cannabis. The quandary lies in the fact that under Washington State law, an individual can possess up to 16 ounces, as well as grow up to 15 plants, with a valid authorization.
However, patients who do so are only granted an “affirmative defense”, and can still be arrested by local and state law enforcement, and can still be prosecuted under state law. This legislation would change that, offering protection from arrest for any qualified patient.
In addition, this bill would shore up protections for patients who need organ transplants, by making sure that they can’t be denied a transplant for being a medical cannabis patient (something that’s been a problem for Washington in the past).
This bill, which was constructed by members of the non-profit pro-legalization group Sensible Washington, is being sponsored by State Rep. Sheri Appleton (D), and will be getting a committee hearing meeting soon.
If you’re in Washington, now is the time to contact your legislators (which you can search for here), to urge them to support this bill.