Now that Washington State has legalized marijuana for adults, three state government agencies are recommending changes to the state’s medical marijuana system to bring them more in line with the newly approved recreational system. Most of these proposed changes would scale back the state’s medical marijuana law.
Some of the biggest proposed changes that would impact regular people include:
- Reduce the amount a qualified patient or designated provider can possess at any given time from twenty-four ounces of useable marijuana to three ounces. (Regular adults are limited to only one ounce.)
- Eliminate home grows and the ability for a qualified patient or designated provider to possess marijuana plants in any stage of growth. (Currently, patients can grow up to 15 plants.)
- A single system for medical and recreational producer and processor licenses. Only recreational marijuana stores with an endorsement may accept medical marijuana authorization cards. Make the new regulatory system for medical marijuana effective no sooner than January 1, 2015. (There are currently more dispensaries operating in many parts of the state than there will be licensed retails.)
- Utilize the same tax structure as recreational marijuana, but provide an exemption from state and local retail sales and use taxes on purchases by medical marijuana patients registered with the Department of Health. (Medical marijuana is not current subject to any special tax.)
The proposed modifications would still allow qualified patients under the age of 21 to legally access medical marijuana, but all qualified patients would need to register with the Department of Health. The agencies don’t want the less regulated medical marijuana system to undermine the new recreational one.
The suggestions come from the Liquor Control Board, the Department of Revenue and the Department of Health. The three agencies were given this task by the state legislature. These are only recommendations. Most changes would need to be adopted by the state legislature.
Given how significant some of these proposed changes are, expect them to generate strong opposition from parts of the medical marijuana community.