The Most Significant Portions Of The Cannabis Patient Protection Act of 2015 Became Active As Of Midnight Last Night

Mergers and Authorizations – All Washington State marijuana medical dispensaries and grow operations without a recreational license from the Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) must cease most operations or risk criminal penalties. Local and state police have already begun shutting down unlicensed stores.

This is a result of HB 2136 and SB 5052,bills passed in by the Washington State Legislature in Olympia last summer. These two bills resulted in numerous reforms to cannabis law in Washington, including revamping the taxation structure, more carefully defining the licensing and safety standards, and combining the medical and recreational marijuana markets into one uniformly regulated industry.

So, what is different after today?

Collective Gardens:

Collective gardens will cease to exist as we currently know them. Going forward, collective gardens will only be permitted on residential property belonging to one of a maximum of four registered medical patients who participate in the upkeep and maintenance of the garden. Caregivers may also help out, but these gardens will no longer be a major source of cannabis medicine for many patients.

Farmers markets:

Patients who wish to purchase their medicine must now buy it from a licensed and regulated store licensed by the LCB, who may or may not have a medical endorsement from the Washington State Department of Health (DOH). All licensed medical marijuana retailers will also be recreational retailers, but not all recreational retailers will also be medical retailers. If you require high THC, CBD, or other specialized cannabis products you may need to find a retailer with a medical endorsement who stocks the medicine you need.

Medical Authorizations:

Medical marijuana patients may purchase recreational cannabis just like anyone else without an authorization or any paperwork. Patients with a valid medical marijuana authorization form signed by their doctor can register with DOH for additional benefits, such as higher limits on possession, authorized home-grows  up to 15 plants, arrest protection for possession and home-grow production, and access to high THC content products. Registered patients are exempt from paying sales tax, but will be required to pay the 37% excise tax on all marijuana purchased in a store.

For further reading, check out this excellent article written by our friends over at Northwest Marijuana Law, DOH’s main Medical Marijuana page, and Leafly’s overview of the new law.

Ammon Ford | July 1, 2016