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STEVE ELLIOTT

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Medical cannabis patients and supporters crowd the Washington state capitol in Olympia with a simple message: Patients should not be taxed on their medicine, and the Washington State Liquor Control Board has no business regulating medicine. [Photo by Daniel Berman/www.bermanphotos.com]
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Medical cannabis patients and supporters crowd the Washington state capitol in Olympia with a simple message: Patients should not be taxed on their medicine, and the Washington State Liquor Control Board has no business regulating medicine.
[Photo by Daniel Berman/www.bermanphotos.com]

So Why Hasn’t The Public Heard About It?

With Washington Governor Jay Inslee looking increasingly likely to sign SB 5052 into law, it may end up being a waste of taxpayers’ money. Due to its violating federal and HIPPA laws, a federal injunction could be issued, ending SB 5052 before it can cause harm to patients. Showing that SB 5052 violates the state constitution will take longer in state court.

A dedicated and motivated sponsor is behind the citizens’ Initiative 1372. The reason you may not have heard about this initiative, which last year was I-1343, starts with our current initiative process.

This state allows the People the initiative/referendum process. This allows the People to do what the Legislature won’t if they no longer represent the will of the People.

It’s Difficult To Get On The Ballot

The number of signatures required to qualify is based off the number of votes in the last gubernatorial election, and continue to rise every four years. The current time allotted for gathering from the start of filing until the cutoff is 10 months.

New files can take up to 17 business days; previous filings take 10 business days, before signatures may be gathered. The state has no issue taking days away from gathering when start dates fall on a Saturday, and end dates fall on the 4th of July holiday and New Year’s Day. Electronic petitions are currently not accepted (I-725).

This year’s lost three days, also possibly next year. With a start date supposed to be Friday, January 1, if they move it to Saturday the 2nd, that means a file date of Monday the 4th, meaning signatures could possibly start being gathered at 5 PM on Friday the 15th, with the cut off being 5 PM on Friday, July 1st. If they move it to December 31st, though, the weekend loses two days with the Deputy Solicitor General holding it five business days. It would mean that signatures could start being gathered on Thursday the 14th.

Because of this short time period with a large goal, grassroots initiatives have a challenging time getting on the ballot. The last grassroots initiative to make it to the ballot was I-655 (Bear Trap). Initiatives like I-1183 (liquor privatization) and I-502 (New Approach Washington) had big financial backing and misled voters who didn’t read what they approved. The medical cannabis measure I-692, with good intentions, had California money to get on the ballot.

Kirk Ludden Fought Hard To Get This Far

Washington state cannabis activist and patient Kirk Ludden
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Washington state cannabis activist and patient Kirk Ludden

Even though many say that the only way to get an initiative to the ballot is through funding, this hasn’t stopped the sponsor of I-1372. Kirk Ludden is a medical cannabis patient who says that cannabis — the whole plant — has saved his life as well as his health care costs.

How has this weed saved his life? When Kirk moved to Seattle 10 years ago, he tested HIV positive in November 2004. When diagnosed, he didn’t have insurance and was told he had normal immunity, and nothing to worry about. His T-cell count was 1142 with a viral load of 13,700. Tests to see when he was infected showed it was more than a year before.

In 2006-2009, Kirk began yearly anonymous testing to be informed what his numbers were, each test telling them they need to be testing his blood for more the just the virus. T-cells consistently over 1,000 (normal immunity), and fluctuating between 585- 3,000 normally with occasional spikes to 5,000 or 7,000 in the winter. In 2007, his viral count was undetectable when it was less than 400.

In July 2009, HIV Vaccination Trial Units opened up to “non-progressors” of at least five years. For his qualifying test Kirk had a T-cell count of 1535, and an anonymous test just weeks before had his T-cells at 1271 and viral load of 120. In 2010, he was diagnosed a “wild type non-progressor”. This is because Kirk doesn’t have the gene that protects against HIV, nor is he what was discovered as the “elite controller” who produce an amino acid that fights HIV.

Initiative Aims To Qualify For November 2015 Ballot

This is the second year Kirk is running the medical cannabis initiative to the November ballot, and said he will not stop until Washington has the cannabis for medical use board made up of the state and the community, with its own separate revenue to remain neutral.

While I-1372 has been shared with all the state Representatives, Ludden said he is doubtful that Olympia has the leadership or compassion to put patients before politics. Because of this Kirk is hoping that I-1372 will qualify this year, and if not he said he will be filing it every year until his medicine and the patients of this state are truly protected.

For petitions and information on I-1372, check out the website: www.cppwa.org, and on Facebook with the groups Cannabis Patient Protection (www.facebook.com/groups/cppwa/) and Yes on Initiative Measure No. 1372 (www.facebook.com/groups/771990442884286/).

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