A measure seeking to reconcile Washington state's medical marijuana industry with its heavily taxed recreational sector passed the Washington state Senate on Friday.
Senate Bill 5052 passed on a
bipartisan 36-11 vote and now heads to the House for consideration. It
is one of several measures brought forth by lawmakers this year after
efforts to address the dual markets died in the House last session.
of Initiative 502 in 2012 allowed the sale of marijuana to adults for
recreational use at licensed stores, which started opening last summer.
Recreational businesses have complained that they're being squeezed by
medical dispensaries that have proliferated in many parts of the state,
providing lesser- or untaxed alternatives to licensed recreational
Among its many provisions, the bill passed Friday would
create a database of patients, who would be allowed to possess three
times as much marijuana as is allowed under the recreational law: 3
ounces dry, 48 ounces of marijuana-infused solids, 216 ounces liquid,
and 21 grams of concentrates. They could also grow up to six plants at
home, unless authorized to receive more by a health professional. It
would also exempt patients from paying sales tax on medical products.
measure would crack down on collective gardens, eliminating the current
collective garden structure starting July 1, 2016, but allowing
four-patient "cooperatives." The cooperatives would be limited to a
maximum of 60 plants, and the location of the collective would have to
be registered with the state, and couldn't be within 15 miles of a
licensed pot retailer.
But it would also provide an avenue for
existing collective gardens to stay in business, by requiring the state
Liquor Control Board - which would be renamed the Liquor and Cannabis
Board under the bill - to adopt a merit-based system for granting
marijuana licenses. Among the factors that could be considered are
whether the applicant previously operated a collective garden, had a
business license or paid business taxes.
The board would also
raise its previously stated limit on marijuana retailers - 334 statewide
- to accommodate the medical industry.
failed, including one by Democratic Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles of Seattle
that would have allowed all adults 21 or older to grow up to six
marijuana plants at home. Another amendment by Kohl-Welles - who has a
separate bill addressing the two marijuana markets - that would have
removed the registry aspect of the bill also failed. She called the
registry an infringement of patients' privacy.
"What I am most
concerned about is that patients have an adequate, a safe, a secure
supply of the medicine that works for them without government intrusion
and without a new bureaucracy being developed," she said.
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