Pubdate: Fri, 12 Mar 2010
Source: Seattle Times (WA)
Copyright: 2010 The Seattle Times Company
Author: Mark Rahner, Seattle Times staff reporter
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal - U.S.)


The bill allowing patients to get medical-marijuana authorizations 
from a wider range of health-care professionals came a step closer to 
becoming law as it passed in the Legislature Thursday.

Senate Bill 5798 extends the ability to authorize medical pot to a 
variety of other licensed health professionals in addition to MDs and 
osteopaths - including naturopaths, advanced registered nurse 
practitioners and physician assistants.

After some fine-tuning, the bill passed with an amendment requiring 
the recommendations be written on tamper-proof paper. Sen. Jeanne 
Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, the bill's primary sponsor, said it will go 
into effect around July 1, roughly 90 days after Gov. Chris Gregoire signs it.

Gregoire couldn't be reached for a comment Thursday. Kohl-Welles 
said, "I haven't talked to her about it at this point, but I don't 
see why she wouldn't [sign it]. She's been supportive of 
medical-marijuana issues."

Kohl-Welles said, "I think this is a real victory in moving forward 
to providing access more readily to people who are qualified for 
medical marijuana, especial in more rural areas."

The amendment's sponsor, Rep. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, said, "I'm 
not a supporter" of medical marijuana. "I have concerns about the 
drug. But if it's prescribed and the prescriptions are controlled, I 
do not have as much heartburn with it."

Ericksen said the amendment is "an effort to bring a little more 
control to the system and make sure the drug's not being abused and 
is getting to the people who are authorized for it."

The legislation makes copies of the pot authorizations illegal. But 
Kohl-Welles said that it doesn't rule out providers from simply 
writing multiple authorizations - for instance, for his or her own 
records, to the patient, the grower and the like. Also, patients who 
now have authorizations on paper won't need to get new ones after the 
law goes into effect, she noted.

But Steve Sarich, executive director of the Kirkland-based 
patient-advocacy group, CannaCare, called the new law "almost 
unworkably cumbersome. Are you going to go into your doctor and say, 
'Can you sign 10 originals for me?' Believe me, no one sticks with 
just one designated provider." 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake