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STEVE ELLIOTT

Your source for uncut, uncensored, no holds barred, non-corporate controlled cannabis news

As of July 1, Washington state “consolidated” its medical marijuana market into the recreational adult use market created by I-502, creating a single, unified system.

While that sounds great in theory, the actual implementation of Washington’s recreational legalization measure was fraught with errors, conflicts, and outright greed, as I-502 merchants basically paid the Legislature for the law they wanted — SB 5052, with the cruelly ironic title of “Cannabis Patient Protection Act” — which spelled the extinction of medical marijuana dispensaries, collectives, and farmers’ markets throughout the state.

The idea was to force medical cannabis patients to go through the  I-502 system of state-licensed recreational marijuana stores by leaving them no alternative. Many patients aren’t in a position to cultivate the 4 (if not on the state patient registry) to 6 (for registered patients) plants allowed them by the state, being either physically unable, or renting properties where such activity is not allowed by the landlord.

It seems really odd that medical marijuana, at least according to Cannabis Benchmarksaverages $500 more per wholesale pound in Washington, since, as they put it, “There, medically-approved product is a designation that exists in rule, but the testing requirements supposed to come with such a designation have not to this point been enforced in a meaningful way.”

These rules — if they were actually enforced, mind you — would mean that “medically compliant” cannabis would have been lab-tested for cannabinoids, pesticides, and mold. Incidentally, that begs a pretty damned important question. If you’re a recreational marijuana consumer without a medical ID, does that mean the state of Washington is just fine with your consumption of cannabis that has been contaminated with pesticides and mold? Am I the only one who sees a class-action consumer-protection lawsuit waiting to happen, here?

Now, if the characteristics which distinguish “compliant” medical pot from recreational weed haven’t even been meaningfully enforced, what, exactly, is costing that extra half a grand per pound? What, precisely, do patients get for the premium price they must pay, other than an expensive label?

Is this, in practice, then, just another way to shake down patients — many of whom are already under great financial stress — for a few more bucks?

The paltry 9 percent sales tax break patients get for registering with the state, by the way, only cancels out $45 of that $500 extra per pound.

Meanwhile in Washington’s recreational marijuana market, the state spot index for cannabis prices is the lowest in the United States, and prices for indoor weed have reached a year-to-date low, according to Cannabis Benchmarks.

There’s been talk in Washington’s southern neighbor, Oregon, of a future “merger”of that states two marijuana markets, the medical and recreational. Patient advocates in that state might want to approach such a “merger” with extreme caution, since, going by the Washington example, it could result in their extinction.

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