Gov. Chris Gregoire today officially rejected the Legislature’s proposal to license medical-marijuana dispensaries, saying that having state employees perform that kind of regulation would open the workers up to federal prosecution.
Few parts of the bill survived her veto pen. One major casualty of the debate: arrest protections for patients that Gregoire and even law enforcement groups support. The governor said the parts of the bill she liked were too intertwined with the parts that worried her.
“I will not subject my state employees to federal prosecution, period,” she said.
“My action today takes away absolutely nothing from what that voter-passed initiative did,” Gregoire said. Voters in 1998 approved marijuana for medicinal purposes, but they didn’t say explicitly that dispensaries are legal or illegal. Local governments have taken different approaches.
Tacoma has ordered dispensaries to close but wasn’t enforcing that crackdown as it waited for potential new clarification from the Legislature — clarification that looks like it’s not coming this year unless lawmakers revive the issue in their ongoing special session.