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STEVE ELLIOTT

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I won’t even try to shine you on: Things look bad for medical marijuana patients in Washington state.

Voters, who were so ready for legalization when I-502 appeared on the ballot in 2012 that they voted for the measure without stressing on the details, are now seeing their vote for cannabis legalization being turned into a supposed mandate against the state’s medical marijuana system, which has been legal for almost 17 years. Patients who had come into the light, sometimes after years or even decades of being legally forced to hide their medicine, are now nonplussed by restrictive new rules eliminating medical dispensaries, along with sharply limiting plant counts and dry cannabis weighs.

The “legality” of medical marijuana in Washington, unfortunately, becomes more and more meaningless since the Washington State Liquor Control Board — renamed the Liquor and Cannabis Board as of July 24 — had its authority extended beyond recreational cannabis, as provided for in I-502, and was put in charge of medical marijuana as well, by the Legislature.

The death blow to medical marijuana was dealt by SB 5052, passed in the 2015 session of the Legislature.

Restrictions that will harm patient access to cannabis and healthcare practitioners include, according to The Viper’s Club:

• A qualifying condition must be severe enough to significantly interfere with the patient’s activities of daily living and ability to function, which can be objectively assessed and evaluated. (This does not take into account the science of cannabis as a safer alternative to other drugs, nor it’s use as a preventative treatment. It interferes with the patient/practitioner relationship.)

• Patient examinations and re-examinations must be performed in person at the healthcare practitioner’s permanent business location. (This prevents doctors from practicing their medicine away from their office, for home visits, from writing authorizations if their location is with a clinic that will not allow it due to federal law.)
• Healthcare practitioners who write more than 30 authorizations per month must report the number to the department. (This will drastically reduce the number of health care practitioners writing authorizations as most will not want the intrusion by the state.)
• Healthcare practitioners cannot have a practice that consists primarily of authorizing the medical use of marijuana. (Another measure to reduce the number of practitioners writing authorizations or specializing in the endocannabinoid system in the human body.)

• No more than 15 plants may be grown in a single housing unit even if multiple patients or designated providers reside there. (Drastically reduced from a 45 plant count for collective gardens, 30 for patients who are also a designated provider to one other patient.)
• Butane extraction is prohibited unless the person is a processor licensed by the LCB. (While this may be an admirable idea to reduce butane explosions, it will dramatically increase the cost as patients will only be able to purchase it in a recreational shop for now.)

Now, we’re not supposed to talk about the fact that Senator Ann Rivers of the 18th Legislative District reportedly got a “campaign contribution” of some $150,000 by Martin Tobias, a generous donor who happens to be the sole funder of something called the “Washington Cannabusiness Association,” who evidently stood to gain by forcing medical cannabis patients through highly taxed recreational marijuana system.

ann rivers
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Republican state Sen. Ann Rivers, shut down medical marijuana dispensaries, after receiving a big campaign contribution from I-502 interests.
[Washington State Wire]

Something tells me that Rivers’ little gift wasn’t the only blood money paid to Washington lawmakers to extinguish medical marijuana in the state. The unseemly display of I-502 merchant-sponsored lobbyists defaming seriously ill medical marijuana patients as “fakers” and their tightly knit, self regulating (for more than a decade) community as “dangerously unregulated” and “black market” is one that will live on as a very unpleasant memory for many patient advocates, who could scarcely believe the level of vitriol aimed at a community which is, by definition, made up of seriously ill people.

But the fact is, these unpleasant things, done by venal legislators who don’t understand medicinal cannabis but apparently understand campaign financing quite well, will live on in the memories of activists for a long, long time.

Some of those activists, not content to roll over and play dead for the nice lawmakers who just defined them as fakers and outlaws, have formed The Viper’s Club, a Washington state charity organization which is filing to become the first national “compassionate use” Super PAC 501c4 for cannabis.

The Vipers on July 24 held a press conference on the steps of the Legislative Building on the State Capitol Campus in Olympia for efforts to help bring awareness to the corporate and state plan to restrict access for medical patients with the passing of SB 5052.

A number of speakers including Viper’s Club board members John Novak, Gina Garcia, Leland Cole, Rowan Wilson, Kirk Ludden, Brian Stone, and Arthur West fired up the assembled activists and told of plans to continue the struggle for safe access.

Dr. Gil Mobley, an activist physician who spends time in both Colorado and Washington, was on hand, and the good doctor gave one of his most passionate speeches in defense of the medical marijuana community, assailing the greed and hypocrisy which define the attack on safe access for patients in Washington state.

“Modern medicine has finally reached the tipping point to where the medical utility of cannabis can no longer be denied,” Dr. Mobley said. “Modern medicine is past the point where it’s beyond any doubt at all.”

According to Dr. Mobley, it’s important for patients to know what’s in their medicine, and what’s NOT in their medicine (pesticides and chemicals).

The number one rule of medicine is first, do no harm. “Today, I’m here to explain how the state — specifically the elected officials who have been here behind us, have been derelict in their duty protecting the patients in their rush to pass Senate Bill 5052, the Patient Protection Bill. Talk about a misnomer!

“The officials behind this have violated the first rule of medicine — and they’ve lied, or worse, were misled by the LCB, the Liquor Control Board, the Liquor and Cannabis Control Board. How? I will specifically call out Senator Rivers,” he said.

“I will call out Senator Rivers, in her efforts to roll medical cannabis into the recreational market. She repetitively said that the state’s marijuana is ‘tested and safe,’ and medical is not.”

According to Mobley, even though 250 pesticides are approved for use on cannabis in Washington, there isn’t one lab in the state that can test for pesticides. Mobley said concentrates were taken to six different labs, and poisonous solvents, above the thresholds, were found.

None of the labs found all six, Mobley said; one found A, another found B, another found C, etc. None of the other labs found the other solvents.

The same sample had 500 percent variance in THC level in lab results among five labs. One had 9 percent THC level, and another measured the same sample at 45% THC level, Mobley said.

Dr. Mobley called the “CBD only” laws which have passed in some conservative states “a joke” and “a political bandaid” to make cannabis activists think the politicians are doing something. “They are counterproductive to patients’ benefit,” he said; the Entourage Effect means that THC is needed to get the benefit of cannabinoids.

The Vipers Club, Capitol Building, Olympia, Washington, July 24, 2015 [Steve Elliott ~alapoet~]
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The Vipers Club, Legislative Building, Olympia, Washington, July 24, 2015
[Steve Elliott ~alapoet~]

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