Medical Marijuana Changes In Washington State

SB 5052 Signed into Law By Governor Inslee: Changes Made To Medical Marijuana in Washington State. You can read the bill that passed here, but keep in mind Gov. Inslee vetoed Sections 36, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, and 52.

My quick summary covering some basic changes made to medical marijuana in Washington State 

  • Adds marijuana concentrates to law.
  • Section 6: merit based system for new applicants based on past medical marijuana experience, with priority given to those who previously applied for 502.
  • Creates “medical endorsements” for retail stores that take certain steps, including training their employees on medical marijuana.
  • LCB to determine additional amount of canopy needed to provide to retail outlets with med endorsements; and additional # of stores with endorsements needed to serve patients. Current 502 licensed producers can increase their canopy if designating it “medical.” If that doesn’t cover the additional canopy needed, the LCB can open up the application window again.
  • Stores with medical endorsements can sell to patients and give away free marijuana to patients and providers.
    • The stores will issue “recognition cards” and add patients to new voluntary patients database (that goes into effect July 1, 2016) for those patients who request to be added.
    • Cannot allow doctors to issue authorizations on site.
    • Mandatory employee training on medical marijuana.
    • Patients 18-21 allowed; patients under 18 allowed with designated provider who must purchase it.
  • All retail outlets can sell product that tests at less than 0.3% THC, which would include topicals.
  • PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injury added to qualifying conditions
  • Further limits the doctor/patient relationship and puts restrictions, extra bureaucracy on doctors. (Note: This is the end of cannabis specialty clinics, where most patients needed to go to get authorized because their regular doctors were too scared, or were flat out banned by their hospital, to write authorizations. Most of those doctors actually referred their patients to these specialty clinics. No more.)
  • Limits possession by patients to 48 ounces of marijuana-infused solid product, 3 ounces of useable marijuana, 216 oz of infused liquid product, 21 grams of marijuana concentrates, but only if they are registered with the database. Otherwise the patient is limited to the same limits as all adults – 1 ounce of useable marijuana, 16 ounces of marijuana-infused solid product, 72 ounces of infused liquid product, and seven grams of marijuana concentrate.
  • Patients registered in the database can grow 6 plants and possess 8 ounces from those plants. Doctor can recommend up to 15 plants. If not entered into the database, patients cannot obtain marijuana designated as “medical” from retail stores, and only grow 4 plants and possess 6 ounces from those plants. (Goes into effect July 1, 2016.)
  • Patients not entered into the database would not have arrest protection but would maintain an affirmative defense – *only if they present their authorization paperwork to the law enforcement questioning them. 5052 repeals RCW 69.51A.047 that allowed patients to maintain an affirmative defense, and their right to remain silent, if they did not register or present their paperwork. (Thanks to Kari Boiter for that clarification.)
  • Patient cooperatives allowed as long as located 1 mile from a retail outlet, registered with the state. Only 4 patients (& each of their plant limits). When a patients leaves, another one can’t join for 60 days. Must be at a domicile. No monetary contributions, but each patient must somehow contribute. One per tax parcel. No patient under 21 but their designated provider can be a member. (Goes into effect July 1, 2016.)
  • For patients, no more than 15 plants per housing unit, regardless of how many patients living there, other than a cooperative. Production & processing must be hidden from easily to see view of public/neighbors, including smell.
  • Section 28: LCB must create rules for patients & providers to be able to make concentrates and marijuana-infused products.
  • Creates a “medical marijuana consultant” certificate that shows people have specialized training to be medical marijuana professionals. Not required for med. endorsed store – that training is not as intense.
  • DOH to study and develop recommendations on “medical marijuana specialty clinics.”
  • Collective garden law repealed July 1, 2016, which applies to dispensaries/access points (per Sections 49 & 50). Note: starting immediately, patients under 21 can no longer participate in a collective garden but must have their designated provider (parent or guardian) be the member.

The Sections vetoed included provisions that would have added criminal penalties (including a felony if you could not show that the marijuana you possessed came from a licensed retailer), precluded hospitals from limiting or banning doctors from issuing marijuana authorizations, removed marijuana from the state’s Schedule I, and required that HB 2136 be passed for this to pass. HB 2136 is still being negotiated and will be considered during the special session.

For more information, read the final bill report here.