Medical-marijuana market remains at risk, bill fails in final hours

In a disappointing turn of events late today, the House of Representatives failed to reach an agreement on Sen. Ann Rivers’ bipartisan medical-marijuana measure before the Legislature adjourned for the year.

Rivers said the fiscal details that ultimately caused the bill’s demise weren’t enough of a reason to leave patients in the dark without any protection.

“I don’t think people realize what a blow this is to the medical-marijuana community,” said Rivers, R-La Center. “I am legitimately fearful for the patients who rely on medical cannabis because the medical market remains completely unregulated, which leaves a lot of room for the federal government to intervene or even shut down the entire medical-marijuana system in our state. Without this legislation, 14 year-olds are still able to access medical marijuana authorizations without their parents’ consent.

“I think patients should plan to use and pay for recreational marijuana because as it stands today, Washington’s medical-marijuana market is outside its legal bounds and was actually deemed ‘untenable’ by the U.S. Attorney General’s office,” warned Rivers.

The passage of Initiative 502 in 2012 approved the use of recreational marijuana and provided a wholly-regulated market. Rivers’ Senate Bill 5887, which won Senate approval Saturday, was the product of a collaborative bipartisan effort over the past two years to protect the medical-marijuana market and patients in light of I-502.

“I am appreciative of the feedback and personal stories we heard from patients and stakeholders who invested their time and energy in helping us develop and fine-tune my proposal. While I am disappointed in the outcome, I’m not defeated. We will start over in January when we convene for the next legislative session.”