Sunday’s editorial criticizing the Tacoma City Council for delaying closure of medical marijuana dispensaries (“The latest enabler of amarijuana industry”) missed the mark. Tacoma joins other cities and counties struggling to honor the spirit of Washington’s medical marijuana law, which passed with an overwhelming 59 percent majority in 1998, in the absence of a workable system for providing qualifying patients access to cannabis.
The Legislature will take up this matter in 2011. We have already passed two bills clarifying and strengthening the law in previous years. Both bills had bipartisan sponsorship and support.
The Legislature is well-equipped to tackle the dispensary question. Our state Department of Health has provided us a 114-page report on options for providing patients access to “adequate, safe, consistent, and secure” sources of medical marijuana, including dispensaries. Six other jurisdictions have already passed dispensary legislation: New Mexico, Rhode Island, Maine, New Jersey, Colorado, and Washington, D.C.
Creating a statutory and regulatory framework for licensing dispensaries will allow us to improve patient access, address public safety concerns and establish statewide uniformity in the implementation of our medical marijuana law. I am looking forward to working with Tacoma and all of Washington’s cities and counties to pass legislation in the upcoming session.
Jeanne Kohl-Welles is a Democratic state senator from Seattle.