The Washington Liquor Control Board as directed by Budget Proviso Language: 3ESSB 5034 Sec. 141(2) has issued its final Medical Marijuana Recommendations. During the upcoming legislative session which commences January 13, 2014 you will be asked to consider those findings.
As a medical marijuana patient I am grateful that the people of Washington passed the Medical Use of Marijuana Act in 1998 as a ballot initiative (I 692), and the Washington State Legislature amended the Act in 2007 with Senate Bill 6032 and in 2010 with Senate Bill 5798. These laws give me safe access to the medical marijuana that I need and allow me the right to form a collective garden from which all members benefit.
The final Medical Marijuana Recommendations, if adopted as submitted would effectively destroy a medical marijuana system that has been in place since 1998.
With just three words “Eliminate Collective Gardens” these recommendations rip the heart out of Washington’s successful medical marijuana program. Many members of collective gardens would be physically unable to cultivate their own medical marijuana if not for the help and assistance of other members of the collective. Collective gardens also allow patients to know exactly where their medical marijuana comes from and under what conditions it was cultivated. Finally collective gardens assure those patients on fixed incomes or those who are in low income households can afford the medical marijuana that they need.
In 2008 when the Washington Department of Health clarified the law by adopting a rule defining a “60 day supply” of medical marijuana it was not done hastily or without considerable research and investigation. If the current possession limits are imposed along with the restrictions on the number of plants in cultivation it will become impossible for the average medical marijuana patient to cultivate enough marijuana for their own use. Limiting the number of plants to 6 in total is, to be frank, ridiculous. Anyone with a basic understanding of cannabis cultivation knows that even in “perfect” conditions you will never be able to sustain a garden with such a small plant pool. One infestation of spider mites, an occurrence of powdery mildew or infection of mosaic virus can quickly destroy a small garden and leave the medical marijuana patient without a supply for up to six months.
Finally without publicly accessible locations for collective gardens that are separate from the cultivation location, collective members will not be able to receive the benefits of membership. The Legislature should continue to allow separate channels for recreational distribution and medical distribution of marijuana. Medical marijuana patients rely on high Cannabidiol (CBD) strains of cannabis which have no value in the recreational market as they are psychoactive but NOT intoxicating which is the primary goal of recreational use. Without a separate distribution channel for medical marijuana Washington medical marijuana patients will not have access to the specific strain of cannabis they need.
In closing I ask you to keep the Washington Medical Marijuana law intact and to vote to protect medical marijuana patient rights.