Rep. Cody, the chair of the House Health Care Committee, in her bill has hewn very closely to the recommendations made by the Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB).
The medical marijuana patient community reacted quickly to the bill, and the reaction wasn’t a positive one. As some of us had been predicting since early 2012, “legalization” measure I-502 is being used as cover to eviscerate Washington’s medical marijuana law. Under the guise of bringing the medical marijuana community “into compliance” with recreational marijuana rules, safe access for patients is being endangered.
HB 2149 would:
• Establish a mandatory registry for patients and designated providers (deceptively referred to in the bill’s language as a “recognition card”
• Redefines chronic pain: “(b) Intractable pain, limited for the purpose of this chapter to mean pain that can be objectively assessed and evaluated, that is unrelieved by standard medical treatments and medications and of such severity as to significantly interfere with the patient’s activities of daily living and ability to function”
• Patient possession limit reduced from 24 ounces to 3 ounces, with special endorsement required if up to 8 ounces is needed; all reported to the Washington Department of Health
• Patient plant limits reduced from 15 plants (any size and stage of growth) to 3 flowering plants and 3 non-flowering plants; no increase is allowed if a patient is also a designated provider
• Eliminates patient collective gardens, effectively shutting down the dispensary system
• Forces expiration of current authorizations (all valid authorizations expire May 1, 2015)
• Establishes a committee made up of the Liquor Control Board and the Department of Health to determine if cannabis patients need to grow their own after 2019, if recreational storefronts are open
• Changes all uses of the word “cannabis” to “marijuana” in the medical cannabis act
If You Do Nothing, This Bill Passes
Once you read the bill, please contact Rep. Cody and tell her that the rights of medical cannabis patients should be preserved if she wants our votes.
“Please be respectful in your correspondence,” said activist John Novak of the Cannabis Action Coalition. “No matter what you think, their district votes are the ones who put them in office. I always begin my conversations with ‘To the Honorable Representative… [or Senator].’ It will win us all more points in the end.
If you live in Washington’s 34th District, please consider voting for Libertarian candidate Chris Kelly to replace Rep. Cody. He’s running against her in this year’s election. You can visit Kelly’s Facebook page for more information.
What’s More Important: Patients or Profits?
“What kind of society would pass new laws that purposely make it more difficult for people with serious medical problems to seek medical help from a doctor?” asked Seattle-based activist Steve Sarich of the Cannabis Action Coalition. “What kind of deranged mind would purposely propose regulations that would deny access to life-saving medications, or attempt to make that medication so expensive that the average patient could never afford it?“Who would even think of concocting a strategy to ‘de-incentivize’ medical care by making it nearly impossible to get?” Sarich asked. “We certainly have to question the moral and ethical compass of politicians that would write or vote for legislation that would deny ready access to critical medications to the sick and disabled in our state.
“Will our state Legislature actually pass legislation forcing patients with AIDS, cancer and multiple sclerosis to register like sex offenders in order to have their medication?” Sarich asked. “Will they really pass legislation to eliminate the ability to treat certain debilitating conditions, like PTSD, with medication that has been proven to be effective? Will they really vote to make it significantly more difficult for doctors to provide healthcare to their patients?
“Will they really consider letting some patients suffer — or die — just so that they can increase tax revenues for the state?” Sarich asked. “The fact that Rep. Eileen Cody is a nurse, and took the Nightingale Pledge, makes this legislation all the more heinous.”
The Nightingale Pledge
I solemnly pledge myself before God and in the presence of this assembly, to pass my life in purity and to practice my profession faithfully. I will abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous, and will not take or knowingly administer any harmful drug. I will do all in my power to maintain and elevate the standard of my profession, and will hold in confidence all personal matters committed to my keeping and all family affairs coming to my knowledge in the practice of my calling. With loyalty will I endeavor to aid the physician in his work, and devote myself to the welfare of those committed to my care.
“Any legislator in this state who votes for this bill, or any other legislation making it more difficult for patients to get critical healthcare in this state, should be removed from office by the voters,” Sarich said. “This is an election year, and I think our legislators, both Democrats and Republicans, may want to seriously consider that before simply casting their votes along party lines. This is the kind of legislation that voters will not ignore.”“Would it not be wise to wait until the implementation of I-502 to make any changes to RCW 69.51a, to ascertain the impact on patients?” asked longtime medical cannabis patient Brian Stone. “The current law is serving qualified patients most in need of this medication.
“Sex offenders have a registry, but no other medication is singled out for this potentially dangerous enforcement, as EVERY existing registry has been forcibly breached by the federal government,” Stone said. “This was in spite of the State’s best intentions and the promises and commitments made to the patients of that state or city.
“Not only is a registry a violation of HIPAA, and other patient rights issues, it subjects some of the sickest members of our state to potential harm,” Stone said. “In my opinion, what makes a patient registry even more dubious, is that with I-502, all residents over 21 can possess one ounce of cannabis for RECREATIONAL use WITHOUT a registry, yet this proposed bill would register the neediest and sickest members of our community and subject them to federal criminal exposure. How can that be prudent legislation?”
“The patient community is more organized than in previous sessions, and will vigorously fight the proposed legislation,” Stone promised.