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STEVE ELLIOTT

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The Washington State House and Senate have both added budget amendments that, if passed, will turn control of medicinal cannabis in the state over to the Liquor Control Board — which has said that medical marijuana is the biggest external threat to the success of the recreational pot stores created by legalization measure Initiative 502.

“The goal of the legislation is to ‘bring medical cannabis laws into compliance with I-502,'” said Seattle activist Steve Sarich of the Cannabis Action Coalition. “That’s a solution that just won’t work for patients.”

Steve Sarich, Cannabis Action Coalition: "Quote" [The Stranger]
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Steve Sarich, Cannabis Action Coalition:
“It is not the fault of medical cannabis patients, nor their access points, that the Legislature has failed to work with us to come up with common sense regulations”
[The Stranger]

If the WSLCB is really serious about bringing medical marijuana “into compliance with I-502,” then here’s what that could mean to patients, according to Sarich:

• If patients must “conform” to I-502, they will be limited to one ounce, just like recreational users, rather than the 24 ounces currently allowed for patients.

• Patients will pay the same 25 percent + 25 percent + 25 percent + 10 percent tax rate as recreational users.

• They will lose their right to personal grows.

• They will lose their right to collective growing, which will also eliminate all the current access points for those who don’t grow, leaving them without safe access.

Doctor MMJ recommendations for patients would be further restricted, making it nearly impossible for most patients to get legal recommendations, according to Sarich.

Additionally, a 21-year-old age limit for patients would be set, according to Sarich, leaving thousands of sick young people without access to medication and forcing them to choose between driving or complying with I-502’s “zero tolerance” policy for DUID cases with drivers under 21.

“It is not the fault of medical cannabis patients, nor their access points, that the Legislature has failed to work with us to come up with common sense regulations,” Sarich said. “Turning control of our medicine over to the state’s liquor distributor and taxing our medication is certainly not an acceptable solution.

Wes Abney, Northwest Leaf: "Quote"
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Wes Abney, The Northwest Leaf:
“I didn’t care when NORML labeled me a prohibitionist for opposing I-502. But for that same marijuana lobby to say that medical cannabis should be controlled by the Liquor Control Board shows the lobby’s true colors”

“We must convince our legislators to work with patients, not the LCB, to come up with solutions that will work for everyone and will not punish patients simply for their choice of medicine,” Sarich said.

John Davis said that turning medical over to the LCB is the only way to save medical,” Sarich said. “Then, by that reasoning, getting arrested is the only way to stay out of jail. How can you write regulations for medical cannabis if using the word ‘medical’ is a crime (according to the LCB)?”

Scars in Washington’s cannabis community still run deep, with last fall’s acrimonious I-502 campaign still a source of division. Many within the medical marijuana community still wonder why Washington NORML and other organizations were so quick to endorse the measure when there were clearly serious concerns — from the beginning — about its impact on safe access for patients.

“I didn’t care when NORML labeled me a prohibitionist for opposing I-502,” commented Northwest Leaf publisher Wes Abney. “But for that same marijuana lobby to say that medical cannabis should be controlled by the Liquor Control Board shows the lobby’s true colors.”

“If you can’t attend the rally, please contact your two Representatives and your Senator,” Sarich said. Here’s where you can go to find out who they are and how to contact them: http://app.leg.wa.gov/DistrictFinder/

You can also express your concerns to your lawmakers by calling the legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000.

“The message is simple,” Sarich said. “We don’t want the Liquor Control Board, the state’s liquor distributor, writing rules for controlling medical cannabis and we want that provision stricken from the state budget bill.”

“They have characterized the medical patient community as ‘over 90 percent fakers’ and stated that most have no qualifying medical conditions,” Sarich said.

“An article in the Seattle Times on Friday stated that ’39 percent of all Seattle high school students are getting their pot from medical dispensaries,’ ” Sarich said. “It makes no difference that these are obvious lies; a tremendous number of readers, including our legislators, will believe what the newspaper publishes.

“Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes, an I-502 sponsor, has also come out in the Seattle Times this week calling for an end to medical cannabis dispensaries,” Sarich said.

“If you don’t take action, this could very well be the end of medical cannabis.”

For more information on the June 19 rally in Olympia, including how you can help, call (206) 612-9044 or email steve@cannacare.org.

RALLY TO SAVE MEDICAL CANNABIS

When: June 19, 2013, 12 noon

Where: The State Capitol Campus, Olympia

State Capitol Campus Parking Information:
http://www.leg.wa.gov/legislature/Pages/Parking.aspx

Campus Map: 
http://www.des.wa.gov/SiteCollectionDocuments/campus-map.pdf

 

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