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Medical marijuana law still says one patient per grower

Post by Cheryl Tucker on Feb. 16, 2010 at 7:40 pm with 5 Comments »
February 17, 2010 8:47 am

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

Medical marijuana advocates made a deal with the voters in 1998 with Initiative 692: no sales, no shops, no dispensaries, no co-ops, nothing that would even vaguely resemble a legalized dope industry.

The year before, Washingtonians had rejected a loophole-riddled initiative that would have abetted the loosey-goosey quasi-commercialization already seen in California. I-692 included a crucial safeguard: authorized patients could use marijuana, but they had to grow their own supply or have it provided by a caregiver. No money was to change hands.

One patient per caregiver: The law explicitly says the caregiver must “possess no more marijuana than is necessary for the patient’s personal medical use.” And he or she must “be the primary caregiver to only one patient at one time.” That language would not be in there had the law envisioned shops with scores or hundreds of paying customers.

But dispensaries selling to multiple, paying customers is exactly what Washington has been seeing in recent months – in Tacoma, Spokane and elsewhere. Their operators appear to be hoping that police, prosecutors and courts will adopt a de facto tolerance policy toward “exchanges” that bill themselves as medical providers.

Three of these dispensaries have opened in Tacoma. Another, the “Green Buddha Patient Network,” operates out of Seattle and reportedly sells to more than 1,000 users statewide. Because the state has expansive guidelines on how much marijuana an individual patient can possess, growers often have surpluses. Those surpluses are getting marketed through the exchanges, all under the benign auspices of medicine.

It would be one thing if there were some medical rigor in the way marijuana were being administered to patients. In fact, some of the ailments for which marijuana is now approved under state guidelines – such as “intractable pain” – allow for very broad interpretations.

Physicians in general don’t appear eager to recommend that their patients smoke anything, so a relative handful of doctors seems to be writing marijuana authorizations for large numbers of patients they can’t know very well. Now the 2010 Legislature is moving to allow physician assistants and nurse-practitioners to authorize marijuana use, which appears to reflect the difficulty some would-be users have had getting permission from an actual physician.

Easy marijuana from wink-and-a-nod shops wasn’t what the voters were sold in 1998. Maybe the voters have changed their minds and want a wide open, California-style marijuana market.

The way to test that is to address the question forthrightly by putting another initiative on the ballot. But until the voters or lawmakers choose to go down that path, it’s up to prosecutors and police to make sure Initiative 692 isn’t covertly turned into a grand bait and switch, with the joke on Washington’s electorate.

Leave a comment Comments → 5
  1. Yes it does say that. The spirit of the law says a lot more though which you seem to just ignoor. You can not make a medicine avalible and not the ability to procure it. It is not done in anything else in the good ol USA except cannabis. in fact the King county prosecutor realized this over ten years ago and has allowed collectives to operate there without fear of prosecution. It is absolutly crazy to think that all the sickest patients can grow their own or even have a place to grow it. And if they can they can t grow enough to last the 4-6 months it takes to grow another crop. God gave you a brain….use it.

  2. You are also correct that this will take a ballot inititive as our political leaders dont seem to understand this issue. in fact we have one we will be ready to release to the public next year after fundraising. As usual its the sickest that must do the work while idiots like the author prove beyond a doubt that they dont use their own common sense.

  3. it’s truly sad to see this lack of cannabis education turned into an attempt at beating up medical marijuana in Washington.
    medical marijuana works.
    the world knows this.
    other countries have been piling up the evidence in study after study for years. Canada and the UK both utilize cannabis remedies extensively. Marinol (synthetic THC) has been in use in the US since the early 1970’s.
    the US govt has been hiding evidence for years, but a quick perusal of the TNT TODAY, will show you the first reports, from TODAY about POSITIVE results from cannabis testing in a wide range of medical applications.
    these include anti cancer agents, anti spasmodics, anti nauseants, MS, fibromyalgia, anxiety, PTSD, most types of GI issues will respond to cannabis therapy in some positive manner, the list goes on.. your ignorance of the facts is unnerving for someone holding such a strong opinion..
    medical grade cannabis doesn’t just happen without a lot of hard work, experience, and devotion. someone who is starting chemotherapy doesn’t have 3 months to wait for usable medicine that they have to make themselves. that’s like asking someone to grow their own poppies to make their own morphine when they find out they have cancer and will need painkillers.. seems silly doesn’t it? that’s what medical marijuana users are asked to do.
    this seems very far from the will of the voters trying to help sick people to me.
    there are no “wink-and-a-nod” shops. recreational users can buy from the street, like they always have and always will. give medical users the courtesy to find their own medication thanks.
    the medical users that use it everyday can attest to the quality of life they enjoy using cannabis, versus the existence they had when numbed out on painkillers, or a host of other pharmaceutical options.
    cannabis isn’t always the answer, but it should at least be allowed to be an answer for those who choose it.
    not a choice to be made by the author for me..
    Tacoma Hemp Company

  4. It takes four months to grow cannabis. It can take far less time than that to die of cancer, though. It’s that simple.

    The law is inadequate.

    End of story.

  5. The difference amid recreational consumption and medical use of cannabis begs to be acknowledged. Although I believe that a responsible adult should have the right to use marijuana recreationally, I do believe, without doubt, allowing a sick person use of a plant with a long history of medical value should be accepted and legal. Marijuana has a great potential as a medicine and more awareness and acceptance is needed. In Summary, legalize it!

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