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Health and Medicine
Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Medical Marijuana Regulation One Step From Inslee's Desk

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Washington state's medical marijuana marketplace could soon be rolled into the state's recreational system.

It appears the days are numbered for Washington’s sprawling and largely unregulated medical marijuana marketplace.

Both the state House and Senate have now approved measures to roll medical cannabis into Washington’s recreational pot system. That means big changes ahead for marijuana patients.

Today, a medical patient might go to their corner or local dispensary. If the bill goes into effect, that patient would go into a recreational store that is dual licensed. There might also be stand-along medical marijuana specialty clinics, but the sort-of ubiquitous green cross stores basically go away under this system.

Patients are concerned about the quality and the quantity of access that they would have. One analogy being made is that this is like sending a medical patient into a liquor store for their medicine.”

Under the legislation, there would be a merit-based system to allow existing medical marijuana providers to become licensed by the state.

Other elements of the proposed medical marijuana law:

  • Voluntary patient registry - Patients who join the registry would be allowed to possess larger quantities of marijuana and would qualify for a sales and use tax exemption.
  • Collective gardens eliminated - Instead, up to four patients could create a cooperative grow with a maximum of 60 plants. Home grows of up to 15 plants would also be permitted.
  • Name change - the Washington Liquor Control Board would become the Liquor and Cannabis Board.
  • Additional authorizations - PTSD would be added to the list of conditions that qualify for a medical marijuana authorization card.

The Republican-led Washington Senate is likely to concur with changes the Democratic-led House made to the measure. Once that happens, the bill would go to Governor Jay Inslee for his signature.