Medical Marijuana Bill Dies

As you’ve probably seen by now, it’s officially over:

A yearlong attempt to clarify Washington’s medical marijuana laws collapsed Tuesday, leaving state dispensaries without legal recognition and more vulnerable to prosecution.

Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, had pursued a series of proposals to regulate the dispensaries, managing to usher one plan all the way to the governor’s desk. But Gov. Chris Gregoire struck down key parts of it with a veto last month, and a scramble to pass two other plans before the end of the legislative session failed to get enough support in committee.

“By far, this represents the greatest disappointment of my legislative career,” Kohl-Welles said.

I certainly have sympathy for Kohl-Welles. She worked tirelessly for this bill, tried hard to ensure that all stakeholders were involved, and persevered when things got rough – only to see the governor wreck her efforts through what appears to be either dishonesty, incompetence, or both. To underscore exactly how bad the governor’s actions were, both Delaware and Vermont are in the process of passing bills into law that have the kinds of provisions that the governor falsely claimed would put state workers at risk of arrest. And even worse, America’s Craziest Governor, Jan Brewer of Arizona, is now using Gregoire’s bogus talking points in her attempt to overturn Arizona’s voter-approved medical marijuana law.

In other news, State Rep. Roger Goodman is continuing to put pressure on Attorney General Rob McKenna to weigh in on this issue. As I’ve written before, McKenna’s animosity towards our state’s voter-approved medical marijuana law stands in stark contrast to his belief that the state needs to stand up to the federal government’s tyranny via the Affordable Care Act. Goodman’s latest letter to McKenna specifically references this bit of legendary hypocrisy, by pointing out that McKenna has expressed his opinion on health care reform, but remains awfully quiet about whether or not the state of Washington should be standing up for its citizens over medical marijuana.

Also staying silent on this issue is the DEA, which has been stalling for nearly ten years regarding a petition to reschedule marijuana out of its Schedule I classification (reserved for highly addictive drugs with no medical use). A coalition of advocacy groups filed another suit yesterday to get them to respond. The cause for the DEA’s silence is that if they come back and say that marijuana has no medical value (which I’m sure they’d love to say), then there’d be a follow-up lawsuit that allows a judge to review the evidence and provide a ruling. For reasons that should be obvious, the DEA would prefer not to go down that route. So instead, they’ve locked themselves in the closet with Rob McKenna, hoping that everyone will stop asking them why they continue to support one of the most inexcusable policy disasters of the past half-century.


  1. 1

    uptown spews:

    …hoping that everyone will stop asking them why they continue to support one of the most inexcusable policy disasters of the past half-century.

    I Know! I Know!
    – because they would lose most of their funding and have to get real jobs.

  2. 2

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    From news reports I’ve read, it appears to me the governor veto was motivated by federal pressure, which tells you that we’ve got a timid governor who not only won’t tackle our state’s structural tax inequity and revenue problems but won’t stand up for our state’s sovereignty either. There’s too much lawyer and not enough politician going on in her brain. Gregoire, whom I worked tirelessly to elect when she ran for governor, has come to exemplify the Peter Principle. Maybe that has gotten to the point where you’re tempted to feel the best that can happen is that she’ll keep her mitts off whatever it is you’re concerned about, whether it’s the state budget or a medical marijuana law.

    In this instance, Gregoire’s meddling made a bad situation worse. Washington’s medical marijuana legal landscape has lost, not gained, clarity. This makes thing more difficult not only for patients, dispensaries, and advocates, but also for law enforcement agencies and municipalities under a duty to implement the social and legal policies of our society as expressed by elected legislative bodies. The legislature did its job; but the governor’s red-penciling scrambled the legislature’s work product beyond coherence and left us worse off than if there had been no bill at all.

    I don’t know whether the governor got bad advice from her staff, was simply in over her head, or let the feds bully her — or all three. Whatever the cause, she upended the apple cart. And it seems to me it’s now her responsibility to clean the mess up by drafting a bill she’s willing to sign that will bring certainty and coherence to the state’s medical marijuana laws.

  3. 3

    Richard Pope spews:

    America’s Craziest Governor, Jan Brewer of Arizona … well, she did veto the birther bill to require presidential candidates to submit baptism and circumcision records in order to qualify for a spot on the Arizona ballot.

  4. 4

    Chris spews:

    @1 They are one of a very few group of people who go to work every day to make the world a WORSE place. They get paid to fuck people over for using then “dangerous” evil weed, then go home and use the more dangerous alcohol. I wonder how many of them think about how they are “helping” people by “protecting” them from dangers while they are outside smoking a cigarette. The craziest part is, tobacco and alcohol actually meet the standards for schedule 1. They meet those standards perfectly, in fact. Yet alcohol and tobacco are legal while marijuana is not.

  5. 5

    manoftruth spews:

    lee, give it up. number one, do you think the dea wants to lose “customers” so they can have their budget cut, downsize and give up dressing up in body armor, carry ak’s and bust down doors with DEA painted on the back of their jackets.
    now second, someone like me who believes the long term goal of the so called elite is to get us to subjugate us like 1984 (the difference between you and i is that you think george bush wants that and i think its obmama), believes that they will never downsize their police presence just for that purpose. we’re fucked and maybe one generation away from slavery.
    of course, they could speed it up be declaring an emergency because of h1n1 or some other so called disaster.

  6. 6

    Godwin spews:

    Gregoire can’t screw up any possible appointement on the federal level. That is what it is all about. She is done polically here– it’s either retirement or up the food chain. If she wants work in the AGs office she has to suck up to her future managers.

  7. 8

    Politically Incorrect spews:

    From 2:

    “..won’t stand up for our state’s sovereignty either.”

    Another good reason to just totally legalize marijuana and engage in civil disobedience at the national level. Who says the federal government has the right to interfere with what the people of Washington (or any other state) determine what substance should or should not be legal?

    Cannabis will be totally legal some day, and this incredible idiotic prohibition will be over.

  8. 9

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Jose Guerena Dies

    Jose Guerena is dead. He was 26 years old. He was a former U.S. Marine who served two duty tours in Iraq — but he wasn’t killed by an Iraqi in a dusty back alley of Baghdad. He was gunned down in his own home by Pima County, Arizona sheriff’s officers who kicked in his front door without knocking — and without a warrant. Recently, the conservatives on the U.S. Supreme Court said cops can do that.

    One of the reasons the Constitution requires a judicial warrant before armed police officers can break into your home is because your home is supposed to be your castle, a sanctuary from the world, a place of refuge from the perils of society. But conservatives think the prerogatives of trigger-happy cops are more important than the lives of honest citizens in their own homes.

    Oh, did I mention they went to the wrong house?

    There’s a couple of bright sides to the Guerena killing. First of all, Guerena’s wife and 4-year-old son, who were in the home, weren’t gunned down by the trigger-happy cops. It could have been worse. Secondly, cases like this usually settle for several million dollars, so Guerena’s widow and child will be taken care of financially. A similar case in Lynnwood, Washington in the 1980s settled for around $4 million; adjusting for inflation, my guess is Mrs. Guerena and her son will get somewhere in the neighborhood of $6 to 8 million dollars, before attorney fees are taken out.

    The Pima County Sheriff’s Department is doing what law enforcement agencies always do when they fuck up and take an innocent life: They’re trying to cover their asses by lying, changing their story, defaming the person they murdered, sealing records, refusing to talk to the media, and so on.

    By the way, this is the same sheriff’s department that was involved in the Congresswoman Giffords shooting. They were the good guys then; but in the Guerena case, they’ve shown themselves to be made of the same common clay as all the rest of the police departments that kick in doors and shoot people who, it turns out, were not drug dealers but merely innocent citizens who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time — in their own homes.

    We need a new Supreme Court.

  9. 10

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    I forgot to mention, another reason the Constitution requires a warrant before cops kick in your door and start shooting is so that a judge who can read will prevent mistakes by cops who can’t read, so that, for example, they won’t go to the wrong house.

  10. 11

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Of course, in a state like Arizona, if you have a Hispanic surname you’re automatically a drug-running illegal in the eyes of the cops.

  11. 12

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Which brings me to the case of Rafael Peralta. He was 25 years old. He’s dead, too. He was a U.S. Marine in Iraq. Not a citizen — he was a Mexican legal immigrant — just a U.S. Marine who threw himself on a grenade to save his buddies. The Bush administration refused to award him the Medal of Honor. Damn. Must be that Hispanic surname again.

  12. 13

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    I can’t imagine what it’s like to survive two combat tours in Iraq, get your discharge, go home to your wife and child thinking you’re home-free and have the whole rest of your life ahead of you, then get blown away in your own home by trigger-happy cops.

  13. 14

    manoftruth spews:

    Of course, in a state like Arizona, if you have a Hispanic surname you’re automatically a drug-running illegal in the eyes of the cops.

    hey rog, back in the 60’s, when people first started to talk about diversity and affirmative action, how did people determine if a business wasn’t sufficently diverse?

  14. 15

    Politically Incorrect spews:

    From 9:

    “We need a new Supreme Court. ”

    Yeah, one that respects personal liberties and property rights and supports ending these crazy wars – especially the War on Drugs!

    As far as the cops raiding the wrong house goes, that’s why we have the Second Amendment: the cops have to be careful about invading a person’s home or they might get to eat a lead-burger! If a cop is killed when he or she wrongly invades a person’s home, I have no problem with the home owner dropping the cop with a S&W.

    What is really galling is that the House and Senate recently extended the Patriot Act. This law should have never been passed in the first place, and it should be repealed immediately! It’s the biggest threat to our constitutional rights as it creates yet another government agency to harass the citizenry and usurp their rights.


  15. 16

    nolaguy spews:

    @15 – Except in Indiana…

    The Indiana Supreme Court has ruled that people cannot keep police from entering their homes, even if the entry is “unlawful.”

    In a 3-2 decision, the court held there are valid reasons for police officers to enter homes without a warrant and without knocking , including concerns for an officer’s safety or that a suspect may escape or that evidence may be destroyed.



  16. 17

    Libertarian spews:

    nolaguy at 16,

    Thanks for the link. It’s pretty scary, like you said.

    If the cops break into the wrong house, then the cops are no different than ciminal home intruders, from the perspective of the person whose home is being illegally invaded. This Indiana judge, Steven David, needs to be removed from anything to do with the legal system: he’s dangerous!!

    If the cops break into the wrong house, then there’s a chance they could suffer the consequences as the home owner defends his life and property. Sorry cops, but that’s the way I see it.

  17. 18

    Steve spews:

    Live free and grow your own. You’ll be telling both the government and the drug lords to go fuck themselves.