OLYMPIA…Marking the recent release of rules from Washington’s Liquor Control Board for the recreational marijuana market, Sen. Ann Rivers is doubling down on her commitment to pass legislation in 2014 that would regulate and license the medical cannabis industry under a separate set of rules from Initiative-502.
“The passage of I-502 created a loophole on a largely unregulated industry,” said Rivers, R-La Center. “Now that the citizens of Washington state have made recreational marijuana use the law of the land, someone needed to step up and create much needed parameters on the medical use side. Many of the rules regarding authorizations need tightening up. Right now minors under the age of 18 can obtain medical cannabis without their parents’ knowledge. To me this is a problem.”
Under Senate Bill 5887, sponsored by Rivers, medical cannabis patients and licensed providers would have protection from arrest. Providers would be permitted to have larger-scale production
operations and would be allowed to own both production and retail facilities in an attempt to bring prices for these medical products as low as possible.
SB 5887 would also tighten approval requirements and increase physician oversight in an attempt to eliminate access by those using the system for recreational use. Medical cannabis users would also pay a lower tax rate than recreational users.
There has been much speculation about the future of medical marijuana with its complete lack of state regulation. Some are concerned it will be shut down by the federal government once a regulated recreational system is in place. Others worry that it will continue in its current form and cause headaches for cities and counties indefinitely. Either way, many see the path forward as being simple: license and regulate the medical cannabis industry and move on.
“The best future for medical cannabis is to separate it completely from the other marijuana industries with rules that are appropriate to medicine,” said Rivers. “Establishing regulations that protect communities, provide affordable patient access, and prevent against diversion to teenagers and illegal markets is a priority of mine.”