Input sought for new medical marijuana rules

August 19, 2007

John Branton, The Columbian (WA)

State health officials have been directed by the Legislature to create new rules for the legal use of marijuana for medical purposes, and the public is invited to comment.

Washington's current law, passed as a voter initiative in 1998, says folks with certain medical conditions may use marijuana to relieve pain and other problems, if their physicians approve.

A problem is that the law says patients may have a 60-day supply of marijuana, but it doesn't define how much that would be, according to a bulletin from the Washington State Department of Health.

In this area, local police guidelines say a 60-day supply would be up to three ounces of harvested pot per patient; or nine plants - three small starters, three juveniles and three mature plants.

Those guidelines were developed by the executive board of the Clark-Skamania Drug Task Force, assisted by the Clark County Prosecutor's Office. The rules have been challenged by at least one medical marijuana advocate.

Earlier this year, the Legislature made changes to the law and directed the state health department to write rules, due next July 1, defining a 60-day supply.

The health department also is to submit a report to the Legislature, showing how medical marijuana patients can obtain safe and adequate supplies of the drug.

To define the 60-day supply and create the report, health officials are to consider research, the advice of experts, the best practices of other states and input from the public. Those wishing to comment online can send e-mails to MedicalMarijuana@doh.wa.gov .

A Web site, www.doh.wa.gov/medicalmarijuana , will keep visitors informed about the rules process and related issues. Visitors also can sign up for regular e-mail updates.

In addition, four public workshops are scheduled around the state, including one in Vancouver. It will run from 3 to 7 p.m. Sept. 17 at the Water Resources Education Center, 4600 S.E. Columbia Way, east of Marine Park.

After officials gather public comments, they will file their draft rules. Formal hearings will follow, the bulletin said.


John Branton covers crime and law enforcement. He can be reached at 360-759-8012 or john.branton@columbian.com



Be the first to Comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.