Rally amplifies voices on medical marijuana

March 26, 2007

Kurt Ackerson , The Olympian (WA)

Supporters of medical marijuana gathered at the Capitol on Monday before a House Health Care and Wellness Committee hearing for a bill dealing with the topic.

Some lit marijuana cigarettes; a 1998 initiative legalized the drug for Washingtonians suffering debilitating or terminal illnesses.

But not all of the medical marijuana advocates were fully supportive of Senate Bill 6032, which the Senate passed March 14.

The point of contention is that the bill would define how much qualifying people can have in their possession. The law allows a “60-day supply.”

Steve Sarich, the executive director of CannaCare, said “my doctor tells me how much medication I can have, that’s federal law. … By turning this over to the Department of Health you are putting me in more danger than before.”

Law enforcement agencies can differ as to what constitutes a 60 day supply.

Bill sponsor Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, said “this bill would provide for clarity that law enforcement right now doesn’t have. It’s hard for a defendant to put on an affirmative defense right now.”

People who testified in favor of the bill included Sen. Bob McCaslin, R-Spokane Valley, whose wife died after an eight-year battle with cancer.

The bill would also clarify police officers’ duties when confronted with a medical marijuana case. They would not be required to seize the entire quantity of the marijuana and would not be liable for failure to make an arrest.

Also, it would allow any designated person to provide the marijuana. Current law says that it must be the person’s primary caregiver.

 



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