Pubdate: Mon, 12 Jan 2015
Source: Herald, The (Everett, WA)
Copyright: 2015 The Daily Herald Co.
Author: Cooper Inveen, Special to The Herald


Proposed Bills Deal With Recreational/Medicinal Issues, Taxation, 
Driving, Edibles Vs. Smokables and More.

OLYMPIA - A little more than two years after voters legalized the 
sale of regulated marijuana, lawmakers will wade through a thicket of 
cannabis-related measures, including merging the recreational and 
medical industries.

"Right now I call it the wild, wild west," Senate Minority Leader 
Sharon Nelson, D-Maury Island, said during Thursday's annual 
Associated Press legislative preview. "We've got incongruities in 
this law that we need to solve."

Seven cannabis-related bills were to be introduced Monday as 
lawmakers convened the 2015 session. The possible impacts range from 
subtle to sweeping.

Two bills take aim at problems with having a state-regulated 
recreational system and a largely unchecked industry of dispensaries 
serving medical-marijuana users.

Sen. Brian Hatfield, D-Pacific County, and Sen. Ann Rivers, R-La 
Center, have teamed up on Senate Bill 5052, which would require 
medical dispensaries to exclusively sell edibles and marijuana 
concentrates, rather than the dry, smokeable cannabis they sell today.

But S.B. 5052 stands in direct opposition to a bill Sen. Jeanne 
Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, is expected to file. It would fold the 
medical marijuana system into the structure created by voters when 
they approved Initiative 502 in 2012. The Kohl-Welles bill also would 
reduce taxes and allow the average consumer to privately grow up to six plants.

The competing bills reveal differing views of how to incorporate 
medical dispensaries into the retail system authorized by voters.

Gov. Jay Inslee has said he is open to aspects of both bills and will 
work with sponsors and other lawmakers to find the best solution.

"The most important thing is to come up with a legally sanctioned, 
safe system for medical-marijuana users," he said Thursday.

Hatfield and Rivers are also co-sponsors of Senate Bill 5003, which 
would raise the excise tax on cannabis from 25 percent to 26 percent.

A bill co-sponsored last year by Rep. Sherry Appleton, D-Poulsbo, is 
getting reintroduced.

House Bill 1020, dubbed the "Ric Smith Memorial Act," would prohibit 
medical professionals from determining a patient's eligibility for an 
organ transplant based solely on their use of medical cannabis.

The bill is named for the Seattle pot activist who died in 2012 from 
kidney dialysis complications after doctors denied his request for a 
transplant, unsure of how his heavy marijuana consumption would 
affect the success of the procedure. But the bill would also protect 
medical patients from being evicted from homes because of cannabis 
use, particularly if the property owner already permits tobacco use.

In the meantime, Rivers has sponsored Senate Bill 5002, which seeks 
to stop stoned driving by making it a traffic infraction to drive 
while an unsealed container of cannabis is present in the car - 
whether it's the driver's or not. The law would require that any 
amount of cannabis being transported be sealed, with the original 
contents intact.

Those with pre-existing marijuana misdemeanors could get some relief 
if House Bill 1041 is enacted. It would allow people to apply to have 
those convictions wiped from their records if they were over 21 when 
the offense was committed. Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, D-Burien, is 
re-introducing the bill after he came up short last year.

Finally, Hatfield and Sen. Jim Honeyford, R-Sunnyside, are sponsoring 
Senate Bill 5012 to try to kick-start a hemp industry in Washington. 
The bill would give Washington State University researchers an August 
2016 deadline to determine if and how such an industry could be 
properly established.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom