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Rivers, Appleton and Hatfield Lead Out With Cannabis Bill Prefile, Kohl-Welles Will Follow

The Comprehensive Cannabis Bills Have Not Sprouted Yet.

Except for Representative Appleton’s, D-23rd, essential re-write of the Medical Marijuana Law (MMJ), 2015 legislation pertaining to cannabis is still in the bud. We have been told this issue will flower soon with major rewrites from Senator Rivers, R-18th, and Kohl-Welles, D-36th.

Let’s get to the root of this issue. As we have reported here, both Senator Rivers, and Senator Kohl-Welles have comprehensive rewrites of state cannabis law in the grinder, almost ready to be infused into the legislature. River’s bill is the more comprehensive of the two, Kohl-Welles’s bill takes a great step toward pruning MMJ and producing a workable process. River’s bill actually will take a cut at grafting a single regulatory platform which would stem a lot of the problems of our state’s enforcement responsibilities.(sorry for the puns, we can only resist so long, and session hasn’t started yet)

The First Big One (So Far)

The only comprehensive rewrite of state cannabis law prefiled so far is Appleton’s HB 1020. Her nineteen page revamp of the MMJ law is an interesting take on the subject. The bill maintains the dual regulatory platform for the state, but unusually moves the licensing of production, processing and selling of cannabis for medical purposes to the Department Of Revenue. Other legislators are intent on moving MMJ more into the medical or health regulatory agencies like Department of Health. HB 1020 does get rid of the slang term “marijuana” and rightly replaces it with “cannabis” throughout the proposed law.

In addition and in quick summary, the bill; provides for reciprocity with other state’s “authorizations”, clarifies conditions for residential eviction due to use of legitimate medical cannabis, declares that medical cannabis has the same rights and privileges as prescriptions healthcare drugs, and further clarifies that state financial institutions may handle proceeds from the businesses of medical cannabis.

Finally, in writing, we see the provision of actual “dispensaries”. Most citizens, and some legislators, are not aware that the present MMJ law in Washington State makes no provision for the actual retailing of the medicine…none. The regulators call them “distribution points”, and the law is silent. So if HB 1020 becomes law, or at least this section, we will have traceable, regulatable (sic) retail medical cannabis outlets in Washington State.

One of the most contentious issues discussed in the medical cannabis community is the imposition of a state register of “patients”. There exists no registry for any other prescription drugs, and cannabis patients feel a registry is unfair and discriminatory. Since we are learning that, in reality, there no longer is any privacy or digital security, they also are concerned that their confidential medical record would soon find it’s way to the screen of some goofball in Boliva who is hacking for the Russian Government and selling sensitive information…well, almost.

HB 1020 sets up a twelve person group to study, evaluate and report on the propriety of a state MMJ registry.

Appleton also has a bill prefiled (HB 1024) that cleans up some esoteric language in the state’s controlled substance law, attempting to line it up with present state law.

Put Your Junk In The Trunk

Although she will come soon with what will be a major cannabis rewrite, combining recreational and medical cannabis use laws, in the mean time,  Senator Rivers has dropped in a little diddy we will call the, “Keep Your Junk In The Trunk” law, SB 5002. Yep, unless your cannabis is in its original retail container and still sealed you can not carry it in a moving vehicle in the “driver and passenger area”. The glove box is not a safe haven for your stuff. You have to put it in the trunk.

And Finally, Let’s Increase The Already Market Crushing Taxes On Cannabis

Senator Hatfield, D-19th, plopped in a bill, SB 5003, that would raise recreational cannabis taxes from 25% per transaction to 26%. Why not?

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