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Washington Overhauls Medical Cannabis

Young Medical Marijuana Plant in the Legalized State in Washington
PHOTO Gracie Malley for Cannabis Now


Washington Overhauls Medical Cannabis

A law that has the potential to severely limit access to medical cannabis for patients in Washington state was signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee last week. The bill, Senate Bill 5052, limits possession of medical cannabis from 24 ounces down to 3 ounces while also limiting the number of plants patients can grow from 15 down to four (or six for those who join a voluntary registry).

While calling the bill a “significant accomplishment” to ensure patients still have the medicine they need, the Governor acknowledged that some medical cannabis advocates remain concerned.

“I recognize the solution is not perfect. However, I do think this is far better than today’s wholly unregulated system,” Inslee wrote in a document that also highlights sections of the bill that he vetoed. “We will have options for patients and a system of strong enforcement to ensure public safety, especially for children.”

Designed as a way to reform and align the state’s medical cannabis program with its adult-use cannabis program, the new law — effective in July 2016 — essentially requires medical dispensaries to shutter or be co-opted into the adult-use dispensaries that the state started licensing last year after the approval of Initiative 502. Those retail outlets that choose to participate in the medical program will need to obtain an endorsement from the state in order to sell medical marijuana alongside the retail offerings.

While Washington approved medical cannabis in 1998, it didn’t allow for commercial sales. Medical dispensaries have been operating in Washington under a collective-grow model. With the changes to the law patients will now only be able to participate in collective grows of up to four patients.  In addition, medical cannabis patients will be exempt from sales tax, but not excise tax, which runs between 30 and 37 percent.

Are you a medical cannabis patient? How would a bill like this affect you? Tell us in the comments.



  1. Michelle

    April 29, 2015 at 5:28 am

    Cannabis needs to be legal for patients with MS. If you lived with the pain you would understand why it’s needed. If a doctor feels it will help the patients, it should be legal!

  2. Alexandra Knight

    April 28, 2015 at 8:56 am

    I want my medicine regulated. I don’t like walking into a med shop where their just peddling a high and they can’t answer my questions when it comes to CBD’s and THC. As a patient I am into the health Science of Cannabis. Having knowledgeable staff is going to be a plus!

  3. Nick

    April 27, 2015 at 3:12 pm

    The “cannabis patient protection act” (just as badly named as the Affordable Care Act) could cause me to have to travel 160 miles round trip to the nearest dispensary, instead of the 100 miles round trip I currently travel. With the reduction in allowable possession amount down to 3 ounces from 24 ounces, that will require 1,120 miles of extra driving since I can no longer pick up 24 ounces in one trip.

    • Martin Marszalek

      April 28, 2015 at 7:01 pm

      You could check with your collective and see if they could ship your meds. A lot of collectives provide a delevery service. Just an idea..

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