Last week, the state’s Department of Health finalized their rules on the 60-day limit of medical marijuana allowed for registered patients. They stuck with the initially proposed 24 ounces, but revised the plant count to 15, regardless of the plant’s stage of development. As has been the case throughout, the medical marijuana advocacy community continues to be split on whether this will really protect patients:
Alison Holcomb, the drug-policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, said the new rule “is a step in the right direction,” even though it doesn’t begin to address the practical matter of accessing medical marijuana.
“Twenty-four ounces and 15 plants is a heck of a lot clearer than ’60-day supply,’ ” she said. “It gives an average law-enforcement officer a very quick and easy way to determine if they’re in compliance, move on and leave that patient in peace.”
But Douglas Hiatt, an attorney who represents medical-marijuana patients, disagrees. He said he plans to file a lawsuit to have the limits thrown out.
“No one I know is in compliance with the number of plants. No one,” he said. “We will drown in cases if we can’t get this rule stopped and keep it out of the hands of law enforcement.”
From what I’ve seen so far, I tend to think that Hiatt is right. For a patient who requires a larger amount (people who choose to eat it rather than smoke it need more), it might be a challenge for them to grow enough with a 15-plant limit. The real question is how police and prosecutors will deal with any legitimate patients who find that the limits are too restrictive. Here in King County, Dan Satterberg has made it clear that he stands with the patients:
“Having this rule, having some amount … is helpful, but it’s not the end of the analysis,” Satterberg said. “If you’re in King County and you’re dying of cancer, we’re not going to prosecute you if you have 15 plants or 30. If somebody is legitimately ill, we’re not going to prosecute that case, period.”
Unfortunately, other prosecutors around the state are likely to take a different view, as we’ve seen especially in Kitsap County, which has been aggressively going after patients.
I still believe that the bulk of the blame for this situation should go to Attorney General Rob McKenna. He could easily lay out guidelines similar to the ones that his Republican colleague Dan Satterberg has laid out, but instead he’s done nothing to ensure that patients who intend to comply with the state law are protected. If there’s any public figure in this state who should lose their job over this, it’s him. But another Republican is taking a very different stand here, Lieutenant Governor candidate Marcia McCraw. Recently, she released this statement in support of the patients:
I’m a socially liberal republican running for lieutenant governor. I’m a respected lawyer, and, as a lawyer, I respect the law. The people have spoken – with a doctor’s recommendation, marijuana use is legal in Washington for medical purposes. We have to stop the politicians and bureaucrats who are trying to make it impossible to legally grow, possess and use medical marijuana. They are forcing chronically and terminally ill patients to purchase their medicine from illegal drug dealers, and this must stop. You need a strong advocate in Olympia, and I will be that voice.
I’m running against the longest sitting lieutenant governor in the entire nation, a man who has been on the public payroll in Olympia for over 30 years. He has diverted taxpayers’ hard earned dollars to his personal crusade against marijuana. He runs nongovernmental organizations funded with taxpayers’ dollars and lobbyists slush funds that are answerable to no one.
As president of the state senate, the lieutenant governor is the only senate member elected by ALL the people instead of by a particular district. As such, I will use that position to be a spokesman and
lobbyist for the people of Washington, including those who legally use medical marijuana.
I’m Marcia McCraw. Please register to vote now and get your friends and family to register. On November 4 (or before if you vote absentee) please remember to vote for me for lieutenant governor.
You owe it to yourself, your values and your health.
Her opponent, current Lieutenant Governor Brad Owen, has one of the worst track records on drug law reform of any statewide official, and certainly of any Democrat. He initially opposed the voter initiative to legalize medical marijuana. He campaigned against Seattle’s initiative I-75, and he has a long history of making hysterical and unsubstantiated claims about a subject he clearly knows nothing about other than how it can increase the size of government while accomplishing nothing.
I know it’s hard to vote for any Republican this year, but Marcia McCraw will definitely be getting my vote. Want bi-partisan solutions this year to shake up the status quo? Send both Brad Owen and Rob McKenna packing in November and get people into statewide office who put people over politics.