Weed for medicine: regulate the crop

April 01, 2007

EDITORIAL, Seattle Times

In 1998, nearly 59 percent of the voters of Washington approved Initiative 698, legalizing marijuana for medical uses. But our medical-marijuana regime has problems, and the bill now working its way through the Legislature solves only the lesser parts of them.

The key to this issue is the acceptance that marijuana has been shown to control pain and to help seriously ill people keep down food and medicine. Both sponsors of Senate Bill 6032 — Sens. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, and Bob McCaslin, R-Spokane — have known people close to them who have used the drug in a medical way. This page supported I-698 as a measure to alleviate human suffering, and supports a slight broadening of the allowable uses. We oppose the general legalization of marijuana, but admit its medicinal effects.

Unfortunately, the federal law has been applied by a long string of U.S. attorneys general to allow no uses of marijuana. Because of that, the state cannot do what it really should, which is to regulate the growing, testing, packaging and sale of cannabis as a prescription drug.

Instead, our voter-written state law disingenuously instructs police to ignore the possession of a 60-day supply by certain sick people, without saying how much of a supply that is or how they are supposed to get it.

SB 6032 would have the state Department of Health define a presumptive 60-day supply, telling police to ignore amounts of no more than that if held by a certified patient. The bill would tell police to ignore growing operations, providing each operation served one certified patient only.

Patient advocates say these proposals are too restrictive. The supply ought to be set by the doctor, and the law ought to allow two or more patients to get medication from the same source.

Legislators should do their best for these patients, who are too sick to worry over the details. They should pass the best bill they can.



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