Law & Politics

The Washington State Liquor Board is in the process of issuing its recommendations for how to regulate recreational marijuana use. This is, more or less, following the timeline that was set forth after I-502 passed.

The story we are not hearing much about, however, is what the liquor board has in mind for medical marijuana dispensaries and their patients.

Washington State Liquor Board Goes for MMJ's Throat, Source: http://www.marijuana.com/news/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Texas-Marijuana-Judge-gavel.jpg

The State wants to:

  • Limit medical cannabis patients to 3oz of medicine on hand (down from the current 24oz).
  • Restrict what conditions qualify for a medical marijuana authorization by tightening the definition of debilitating pain.
  • Mandate that medical cannabis patients get their medicine from state licensed stores.
  • Ban all home and collective garden growing.
  • Require that MMJ patients register with the state AND pay the same excise taxes as recreational users. (The carrot to their stick is to excuse MMJ patients from paying state/local taxes).

As you might imagine, I take issue with these regulations. It feels like the liquor board is simply attempting to put dispensaries out of business so that the State can be the only dealer around. They don’t want to undercut any tax revenues they could make off MMJ patients. Not to mention, during the campaign for passing I-502, it was strongly implied that medical marijuana wouldn’t be under the purview of recreational regulations. The intent of Washington’s 1998 MMJ law was to allow patients to grow at home or buy from a collective.

These proposed rules are arbitrary at best. If, under recreational guidelines, any person of legal age can have up to an ounce of marijuana, what sense does it make to lower the medical allowance to 3? It doesn’t make sense, they just want to force patients into their stores rather than their neighborhood dispensary or own garden.

Further restricting approved conditions for MMJ authorization is a giant step backwards. We are poised on the edge of mass public approval of cannabis like no other time in our history. And instead of looking honestly at the ever-growing body of scientific evidence that cannabis has medicinal value, the governing entities only see dollar signs and want to squash the MMJ market. It seems like almost daily we are hearing about another MMJ success story, but the liquor board in Washington is content to ignore all of that and push for further restriction. Apparently it is okay for any weekend toker who just wants to get blazed to buy up to an ounce without question, but if you have a real medical reason for using, the state would like you register with them, jump through hoops, and impede your wellness. This is just Big Brother bullshit. They want to track users, gather information and funnel patients into their state sanctioned shops.

I just don’t see any reality-based rationale for what the liquor board wants to do. Medical cannabis is not easy to get your hands on without a valid authorization and will likely be priced at a bit higher point than recreational pot. The recreational users will get their weed from the State stores, the MMJ patients shouldn’t be forced to use mass produced, Marlboro-esque cannabis just so a government that tried it’s best to keep cannabis criminalized can reap the profits.

Under the proposed guidelines, medical cannabis patients will only be able to get their bud from state stores that hold a MMJ endorsement. If a medical marijuana patient has found a particular strain or quality of bud that works wonderfully for their condition, what options are they going to have when they have to go to one of the state pot stores? Homegrown and collective-grown bud is cultivated with care, experience, and purpose. This is like raising your own chickens expressly to have organic eggs then having the state tell you that you’re only allowed to consume shitty, conventionally harvested eggs from a giant, soulless poultry factory. Just like with food, quality-grown cannabis is light years ahead of what the state will likely supply. Don’t mistake it, this is a for-profit industry in the eyes of the government. Just like a fast food chain, they are going to buy in bulk from questionable suppliers to satisfy their bottom line.

It’s also worth mentioning that there are currently hundreds of dispensaries spread out all over the Seattle area. The liquor board would like to reduce that number to 21 stores, located mostly in north and south Seattle. For a patient with a mobility limiting condition, it is going to be exponentially harder to get their medicine. And if they can only take home 3oz instead of 24oz, that means 8 times the amount of travel and transportation concerns!

I vividly remember the black market. I do not look forward to consuming a bag of spiny, shriveled up grass because the state doesn’t like that I bought it from someone else. Worse still, these suggested rules actually have the potential to strengthen the black market. Someone who’s medical condition has benefited from quality cannabis will not get the same benefit from some Snicklefritz. As someone who once risked the black market because relief from my condition outweighed said risk, I can see it driving legitimate MMJ users back outside the law.

If liquor was “medicinal” would the board be out there regulating it in similar fashion? I think not. The double standards they seek to apply to cannabis are laughable and hypocritical.

The state liquor board is accepting written public comment until Nov. 8th with a final recommendation due Jan. 1st. I will be writing and I hope you will join me. We need to scream and wail about this shit while it’s still tiny enough to kill. We must be vigilant and remain in the political/legislative process. If anyone more knowledgeable than I has ideas or suggestions on how to effectively oppose these draconian regulations, please share.

4 comments
Proud Pothead
Proud Pothead

The Washington State Liquor Board can eat that which comes out of my butt! Who cares what they think? I certainly don't!

Mainah
Mainah

Leave it to the elected elite to take the people's will and twist it into another mechanism to line their coffers and their pockets at the expense of those who can afford it least. Am I the only one who smells the influence of a federal rat here? Come on Washingtonians! Rise up and truly set the pace for the rest of the country! Show them you have a voice and a vote, and won't be pushed around! Everything great in this country originated in a free market from free will. The state only squashes creativity and free will. Don't let them ruin this opportunity to take back what truly belongs to us, the people. How free is it if you can't even grow it for your own use? That FACT should be the centerpiece for this all important fight for freedom. Rise up Washington! The world watches!

Dave
Dave

Well said, ponder this.Wikipedia gives the following definition for Attorney General for the United States of America. The United States Attorney General (AG) is the head of the United States Department of Justice concerned with legal affairs and is the chief law enforcement officer of the United States Government. As head of the Department of Justice, the attorney general is charged with enforcing federal laws, furnishing legal counsel in federal cases, construing the laws under which other executive departments act, supervising federal penal institutions, and investigating violations of federal laws. Controlled Substances Act (CSA) (21 U.S.C. § 811Under the CSA, marijuana is classified as a Schedule I drug, which means that the federal government views marijuana as highly addictive and having no medical value. Doctors may not "prescribe" marijuana for medical use under federal law, though they can "recommend" its use under the First Amendment. Why doesn’t the Attorney General for the United States of America do their job? They are the chief law enforcement officer of the United States Government. If “forbearance” is their accreditation why haven’t they been sued to perform their duty? i think a lawsuit might throw a Monkey wrench at the LCB.