Pubdate: Sun, 26 Apr 2015
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2015 The Associated Press


OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - Nearly two decades after voters passed a 
medical marijuana law that often left the police, prosecutors and 
even patients confused about what was allowed, Gov. Jay Inslee signed 
a bill on Friday that attempts to clean up that largely unregulated 
system and to bring it in line with Washington's new recreational 
marijuana market.

Among the law's many provisions, it creates a voluntary registry of 
patients and, beginning next year, eliminates what have become in 
some cases large, legally dubious "collective gardens" providing 
cannabis to thousands of people. Instead, those patients will be able 
to buy medical-grade products at legal recreational marijuana stores 
that obtain an endorsement to sell medical marijuana, or they will be 
able to participate in cooperatives of up to four patients.

And those big medical marijuana gardens will be given a path to 
legitimacy: The state will grant priority in licensing to those who 
have been good proprietors.

The proliferation of medical dispensaries has long been a concern for 
the police and other officials who denounce them as a cover for 
black-market sales. Washington in 1998 became one of the first states 
to approve the use of marijuana for medical purposes, but the 
initiative passed by voters did not allow commercial sales.

Medical marijuana growers repeatedly sought legislation that would 
validate their businesses, coming closest in 2011, when the 
Legislature approved a bill to create a licensing framework for 
medical dispensaries. But Gov. Chris Gregoire vetoed much of the measure.

This time, with the state seeking to support its nascent recreational 
marijuana industry after the passage of Initiative 502 in 2012, there 
was a financial impetus to pull the medical users into the recreational system.

Under the new law, patients who join the voluntary registry will be 
allowed to possess three ounces dry, 48 ounces of marijuana-infused 
solids, 216 ounces liquid and 21 grams of concentrates.
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