Senate approves Rivers’ patient-focused medical-marijuana bill

The Senate approved a measure Saturday that would set the necessary framework and oversight surrounding medical marijuana to establish its place in the market alongside the 2012 voter-approved law allowing the recreational use of marijuana.

Sen. Ann Rivers, R-La Center, introduced Senate Bill 5887 last year but said the measure looks very different today.

Rivers released this statement following Saturday’s vote:

“This bill is the result of a bicameral and bipartisan effort to remain patient-focused while staying within the legal bounds of the recent federal guidelines. The bill has evolved a lot thanks to the numerous public hearings and helpful feedback received from patients and stakeholders.

“When it comes to voter-approved initiatives, it takes time to make sure it will work for the people of the state – and this is something we will have to revisit and adjust as time goes on. In fact, a bill to set up a cannabis-industry committee was also approved by the Senate to bring patients, health care professionals, stakeholders and legislators together to continue work on this issue.

“The bill would set standards for possession amounts and types of useable marijuana, as well as the number of marijuana plants allowed. It would establish a medical-marijuana registry – something that has never existed – and patients and designated providers would receive authorization cards to set them apart from recreational users.

“The use of medical marijuana became legal in 1998, so I realize this bill would create a big change for people who are used to it being unregulated. But by not taking action to standardize quality and access, we are endangering patients who truly need a safe, legal, and consistent source of medical marijuana.”

SB 5887 passed with a 34-15 vote, meeting the two-thirds approval requirement since the bill amends Initiative 502 within two years of its approval by voters. The bill now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration before the Legislature adjourns Thursday.