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Washington Group Is Challenging New Medical Marijuana Law


washington medical marijuana senate bill 5052Last month Washington’s Governor Jay Inslee signed Senate Bill 5052 into law. SB 5052 made a lot of changes to Washington’s long established medical marijuana program. Some of those changes included:

  • Requires every medical cannabis dispensary in the state to close by July 1st, 2016 forcing patients to purchase from recreational cannabis outlets (despite most cities in the state prohibiting them) or rely on the black-market.
  • Reducing patient possession limits from twenty ounces, to three, and their cultivation limits from fifteen plants, to six. Patients caught possessing between three and twenty four ounces, or caught growing between seven and fifteen plants will be committing class C felonies once the law takes effect, and could be imprisoned for up to 5 years.
  • Patients will be required to join a patient database, or only be allowed to possess an ounce, and cultivate four plants.

A group in Washington is hoping to challenge the new law in the form of a citizen’s referendum. Per Marijuana Business Daily:

A Washington State group is looking to challenge newly minted regulations that roll the state’s medical marijuana market into its heavily regulated recreational cannabis program.

The group hopes to gather enough signatures to get a referendum in front of voters that would unravel the new law. A spokesman for the proposal – dubbed Referendum 76 – said the regulations limit access for patients who use MMJ to treat various ailments.

The new law – which the governor signed April 27 – will essentially eliminate the state’s mostly unregulated medical marijuana industry and force existing MMJ businesses to get licenses under the recreational cannabis program or close down.

Senate Bill 5052 is rough for Washington medical marijuana patients, and medical marijuana industry members to say the least. I’m curious to see how many medical marijuana dispensaries stay open anyways. That’s what is happening in California, and for a long time happened in Oregon before Oregon passed a comprehensive medical marijuana dispensary bill. With prices still very high at recreational stores, I’d imagine more patients will go to the black market than convert to purchasing recreational marijuana in the event that there is a massive wave of dispensary closures across the state.



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  • Anonymous

    Do patients pay a 37% tax on their Anti-depressants? Arthritis Medication? Or Viagra?

    If a doctor prescribes medical cannabis, the patient should not be forced to go to a retail store and pay retail prices. We had a good system in place, and there ‘were’ some very good MMJ dispensary’s that truly wanted to help patients and provide good information about how to leverage the MMJ to help the patient’s condition.

    It’s pretty simple. WA promised they wouldn’t mess with the MMJ laws. And they did just that and then some, they killed it.

    Now the only option is to sign up on some ‘list’ that the state of Washington will maintain?

    Again I ask, do those same patients that get prescriptions for Depression, arthritis, or Viagra, have to be on some special ‘list’ maintained by WA state?

    This is straight up about Money; the (retail Cannabis lobbyists) have donated $50,000.00 to one of the primary writers of the new law (I-502) and lobbying to get MMJ patients to pay retail prices. This in itself is a conflict of interest.

    Bottom Line, they want to make more profit from MMJ “Patients”.

    How can we the patients affect change for the better with regards to MMJ?

    The same way the lobbyists do, with Money.

    If we can get enough MMJ patients that are serious about challenging the Washington states stance on our current MMJ laws, we can make a change for better protection of MMJ patients and suitable dispensaries that have trained staff and quality, tested product.

    The only way to motivate these same policy makers is with $Money$

    A legitimate class action law suit against the state of WA, will effect change to help the MMJ community. I’m looking for some ideas on how to organize our MMJ community so we can dig into this a bit more. WA state has let us down, so it’s up to us to get it fixed.

    WA state policy makers promised that the Senate Bill 5052 (a voter passed bill) would not be affected by I-502. Not only did I-502 have a huge impact on Bill 5052, but it essentially put the patients in a state of uncertainty.

    They promised to have a ‘List’ up and running the day I-592 was passed, but to my knowledge they haven’t implemented any system to allow MMJ patients to purchase medicine, but they haven’t issues license to businesses to sell MMJ.

    I want to emphasize the fact that you can’t just go to your Primary health provider and say write me a script for some cannabis. In most cases you need to see a specialist, often a naturopathic Doctor, where you pay out of pocket (Anywhere from $125 to $200.00), just to be seen.

    They then review your health history, talk about current conditions/medications. Then after an hour of discussing your health concerns, the doctor will thoroughly review your medical history/medications, and current ailments to provide a holistic approach to healing the patient.

    In some cases, that may include cannabis, or may not. When they do prescribe cannabis, it’s in combination with other natural medicines to achieve the patients/doctors health goals.

    Lastly – To think that profiteers want to make more money off of legitimate cannabis patients is very disappointing. But what’s even worse…. is that the policy makers, accepted a $50k donation from the Retail cannabis lobby group, and then added polies into I-502 to hinder MMJ laws.


  • Eldon

    You get an A+, Edward. You must be a business undergraduate or perhaps even an MBA candidate. As an MBA, I can verify your post as being both correct and accurate. As a 100% disabled U.S. Army Combat Medic of over 25 years of active service to our nation, I say thank you for writing such a wonderful essay elucidating reason on an issue so beleaguered by emotion and greed.

  • Ryan johnson

    We’re can I get the ballots to be sighned for my dispansary and the ones around us? I want to get a bunch of ballots to get sighned. Please help me thanku

  • John Yoachim

    The Govenor is the Trogan on the Trogan Horse that is I-502
    What poltiical philosophy does the Senate bill represent;National Socialism?

  • Sick o’ Both

    Government…stepping on the necks of sick people…(and the average Joe at that!)

  • Sick o’ Both

    DEMOCRAT Jay Inslee just declared war on terminally ill people. What a scumbag.

  • Edward Norton

    Here’s the deal. We can’t mandate that all dispensary owners care about patients. Some truly do. Some obviously don’t. We have to accept the fact that most will be profit driven. There must be incentive to serve the market, and that incentive rarely comes in the form of personal satisfaction of helping a patient. Just the reality of things.

    What we don’t want as a society is law that does more to benefit the producer/retailer through cartel/monopoly state power, than the consumer through efficient markets. Let me say that again. Cartel/monopoly benefits the few with the state cartel/monopoly privilege (limited licensing), while the free market benefits the consumer because competition forces efficiency, innovation, lower costs, all of which benefit the consumer.

    To be specific, I’d suggest that the old MMJ system was better at meeting the needs of the patients, as it did not restrict the access points or number of producers. It was poorly written, yes, forcing participants to use loopholes to meet the patients needs, forcing production into such small capacity that economies of scale can’t be leveraged lower cost for the patient, and should have been re-written to eliminate the need to use a loophole altogether.

    I mean, really, how realistic is it to tell all Oxy patients that they can be in groups no larger than 10, have to make their Oxy onsite, can’t coordinate exchange with other groups to benefit their patients? Its about as unrealistic as i502 saying you can’t share with a friend.

  • Edward Norton

    Wow Fad! If you’d only taken the time to read the posts in this forum, we may have some common ground. I’ll repost my original below for you, and anyone else who hasn’t read it. It was posted yesterday.

    I agree, fixing the law is what my original point was all about, as it simply illustrates how the law, both in its previous and current incarnation does not benefit patients and consumers. However, we may disagree on the ‘fix’ for the law. I’m a free market / non intervention type, simply because free markets are the most beneficial for the consumer, and the least beneficial for those seeking govt cartel/monopoly power.

    In regards to handily disproving me…you may want to check yourself on that. Particularly in the claim that loopholes are not illegal, yet dispensaries set up because of the loophole is illegal. I’ll post your exact words below.
    //Funny, I never said using a loophole was illegal.//
    //And I recall Steve Sarich — the owner of an illegal dispensary -//

    //I believe you are claiming your *original* point was about government restrictions, and I was supposed to divine that from the ether, rather than from anything you explicitly said? LOL. Maybe you were thinking it, but you didn’t say it.//

    Yes, if you’d taken the time to read my ‘ether’ as you so eloquently stated, you would find plenty of explicit information regarding the concept that government restrictions don’t benefit the patients/consumers, and again, that is a cause worthy of fixing the law, not maintaining the status quo.


    From my original post:

    //mostly unregulated medical marijuana industry//

    Regulate – To make orderly, consistent. (your thermostat regulates temperature). What is being regulated? Quality, access points, price.

    People, you need to make the distinction between market regulation and government regulation. There are no ‘unregulated’ markets. The choice is between regulation by consumer, or regulation by government.

    All markets are regulated by consumers choice. IF quality of product/service is poor, limiting the access points is not going to make quality better. Limiting access points in fact has the opposite effect, in that where there is less competition (think geographic monopoly / 1 store in the city), the retailer has no incentive to keep quality high because he has no/limited competition.

    If I don’t like Dispensary A, and its my only option, Dispensary A could care less about quality as they have a captive audience. However, If Dispensary A has competition with Dispensary B, then both must compete for customers, and if Dispensary A is losing customers due to quality, then they’ll increase their quality or go bust. Thus, the more competition the better regulated the market is in all aspects of quality, access, and price.

    Government ‘regulation’ will never ensure quality as effectively as competitive forces of free markets. Why? because when you regulate Quality by government, you set one standard for everyone. When the market regulates quality through consumer choice, a wide range of quality occurs, and the production elements will meet the range of quality demands by the consumer/market, rather than the govt standards for one-size-fits-all quality. Great Example – Public Education

    Further, government regulation makes regulation by consumer less effective. Markets need a multitude of access points, and a multitude of qualities in order for consumer choice have effective regulation. Govt regulation places restrictions on the number of people who can participate in the market at all stages (producer/processor/retailer), thereby reducing competition and the effectiveness that consumer regulation brings.

    Government restrictions on markets render consumer regulation ineffective, again, think public education for an example in how government restricts markets. If you had a choice where to send your kid with his $13k/yr school choice voucher, the schools would need to compete for students by providing the best quality, greatest access, at the lowest cost. As is it now, we have average quality, ‘adequate’ access, and extremely high cost.

    Seems to me, the biggest concerns regarding patients is quality and access, second only to cost. Again, access will not be increased by shutting down 10 dispensaries access points, and opening 1 retail access point.

    Lastly, cost is not reduced by limiting supply, nor access. Limiting canopy size renders ineffective the economies of scale that make mass production beneficial to consumers. Limiting access points prevents effective competition from competing, thus driving costs up further.

    In fact, the black market is also regulated by consumer choice. What the black market illustrates is worse yet, but similar to the i502 concept in that because of potential legalrisk, competition is limited, production is limited, and access is limited. None of these scenarios present a benefit to the patient.

    Yet the Black market is regulated by consumers. Joe Dealer selling bags of Oregano/Cannabis mix won’t have many repeat customers because of regulation by consumer. If he’s the only deal in town, he won’t care about his quality. Joe Dealer selling overpriced Cannabis will continue to do so at high prices until he has competition, again regulation by consumer.

    So the question becomes, which system is most beneficial to the patient.

    1) Black Market

    2) Regulation by consumer

    3) Regulation by government

    The answer depends on the intent of your regulation.

    If the ‘regulations’ intent is to ensure quality, access, and low cost, then regulation by consumer is most effective and benefits consumers to the greatest extent.

    Think of it this way. The current dispensary system has provided the market with good quality, good access, and low cost BECAUSE of the competition that the market economy offers. Limiting the competition within this system in any way cannot possible benefit quality/access/cost in any fashion.

    This makes it painfully obvious, the i502 system and current MMJ reforms are not meant to, and in no way address patient concerns. They are simply intended to divert revenue from MMJ patients to the few who have gained the state’s monopoly power via licensing process. On that note, I’ve read that only 300 or so producers out of the 3000+ applicants have been granted the state’s monopoly privilege to produce, and the window to apply may never be opened again! Obviously, not good for quality/access/price.

  • Edward Norton

    Why should I? I never set out to defend him. In fact, if you’d taken the time to read my earlier, more lengthy post, you’d find that the principles I’m promoting don’t defend any type of government policy crafted to restrict markets.

    The best type of pill for the ‘Steve Sarich’ type is robust competition in free market. I’ll defend that statement till i’m old and grey.

  • Edward Norton

    //Steve Sarich — the owner of an illegal dispensary//

    Your previous comment from above…does ‘illegal’ not indicate that you felt the law was being broken?

    FAD, I concur on the notion that SB5073 was drafted as a patient concern, and that the class-action against it was brought by those who didn’t care about patient access..simply wanted to maintain their profits.

    What I’m saying is that neither the ‘Steve Sarich’ type dispensary operator, nor the i502 operator, will be concerned with patient access. But in fact, one could argue that the shareholders at Pfizer don’t care about health more than they care about ROI either!

    My point is that govt restricted markets don’t benefit patients or consumers.

    Example – The states own analysis for i502 from BOTEC Analysis Corp indicated that the cost of producing cannabis for retail consumption would be $2.20/gram on a 1yr LRAC curve, $1.37/gram on a 3yr LRAC curve. Compare that with the stabilized price of $15/gram in the retail market, or even $10/gram in the mmj market. Both markets have heavy profit, which is why you’ll find business people in each looking to secure their ‘status quo’ through state issued monopoly power.

    Neither is as good for the patient/consumer as a less restricted market.

  • wowFAD

    LOL. If that was your point, you sure went out of your way to avoid saying it. But I always enjoy it when someone I’ve handily disproven attempts to pretend as if they were trying to say something *else* — LOLOL. But maybe you can cut and paste the ORIGINAL point you were trying to make, then? I believe you are claiming your *original* point was about government restrictions, and I was supposed to divine that from the ether, rather than from anything you explicitly said? LOL. Maybe you were thinking it, but you didn’t say it.

    However, even if that *was* your original point (no really, I believe you — LOL), that’s an argument for fixing the law, not maintaining the status-quo. As for saying the *current* legislation is good/bad, again, maybe you were thinking it, but I didn’t say anything one way or the other. Any other private arguments from your noggin you want to project on me? LOLOL

  • gonzo612

    Is it just me or does this liquor control board have no clue?