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Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, Local Officials Seek Clarification On Medical Marijuana


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OYLMPIA –Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, joined local officials in calling for a stronger regulatory framework for the medical use of marijuana today during public testimony on Senate Bill 5073.

Kohl-Welles, the prime sponsor of the bill, and other advocates told members of Senate Health & Long-Term Care Committee that the current law is confusing in addressing how patients are supposed to legally obtain marijuana.

Current law provides for the authorization of medical marijuana, but unless patients grow for themselves or obtain it from a designated provider, the law doesn’t offer a legal pathway for patients to access their medicine, Kohl-Welles said. “It’s a real Catch 22, with serious consequences for patients,” she added.

Tacoma City Councilwoman and Deputy Mayor Lauren Walker told committee members that her husband has been suffering from cancer since October and marijuana has been one of the only effective treatments for counteracting nausea and appetite suppression caused by chemotherapy drugs. One problem, Walker said, is that most medical marijuana dispensaries in Tacoma have closed due to lack of clarity in the law. She also fears that current laws fail to adequately protect patients like her husband from arrest and prosecution.

Tacoma Councilwoman and Deputy Mayor Lauren Walker testifies in favor of SB 5073.

“Currently our medical marijuana law provides patients with nothing more than the opportunity to raise a defensive trial after arrest, search of their homes, and public prosecution,” Councilmember Walker said. “I don’t want to go there.”

Senate Bill 5073 would allow patients to purchase medical marijuana products from licensed dispensers, by taking part in a regulated patient collective, or by continuing to receive it from a designated provider. The Department of Agriculture would create a licensing system for the growing of medical marijuana and the Department of Health would do the same for dispensaries.

The legislation would also protect legally compliant patients and growers from arrest, search, and prosecution for the use of medical cannabis. Law enforcement officers would be required to consult a voluntary registry of patients before conducting warrantless searches or arrests.

Other provisions protect parental rights of medical marijuana patients and prohibit workplace discrimination against patients.

The bill has bipartisan support in both the House and Senate.

News Hawk: MedicalNeed 420 MAGAZINE
Source: thestatecolumn.com
Author: The State Column
Contact: Contact The State Column
Copyright: 2011 The State Column, LLC
Website:Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, local officials seek clarification on medical marijuana
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