As many of you know, Senate Bill 5052 sailed through the Senate concurrence process with a vote of 41-8. With the legislation poised to hit Governor Inslee’s desk in a matter of hours and a five day window to make needed changes to the bill NOW is the time to make your voice heard!
Governor Inslee has publicly indicated a willingness to use his veto power to protect medical cannabis patients. He has the broad authority to act in three different ways:
- Veto SB 5052 in its Entirety and Block the Bill From Becoming Law
- Veto Specific Sections to Prevent Controversial Portions from Becoming Law
- Do Nothing and Allow SB 5052 to Become Law As Is
Options #1 and #2 would both provide much-needed relief from some of the most restrictive provisions just passed by the Legislature. While a full veto is preferred for obvious reasons and ASA continues to ask the Governor for exactly that, it’s our responsibility to make sure he also understands which sections are the most problematic and provide sufficient reasoning to veto these portions of the bill.
ASA’s policy shop has done a careful analysis of the final version of the bill passed by the legislature to determine which sections can be easily removed, without risking a repeat of the partial veto in 2011 that left patients and care providers in legal limbo. The following are four objectionable sections that the Governor could eliminate with a stroke of his veto pen:
Section 51: Emergency Clause
There is no definitive policy rationale for the immediate implementation of the four sections listed in section 51. Vulnerable stakeholders should be provided ample time to offer input on complex issues like the patient registry and access for adult patients between the ages of 18 and 21.
Section 18: Doctor-Patient Relationship
Issuing an authorization should not require health care professionals to disclose sensitive patient information or other data that could make them criminally liable and endanger their DEA prescribing license under the Conant v. Walters decision. Additionally, health care professionals must maintain the flexibility to exercise best judgment using commonly accepted standards of practice.
Section 24: 60-Day Supply
All qualifying patients with an authorization should retain their current access to a 60-day supply of medication, whether or not they choose to register. There is no evidence-based policy reason to reduce the 60-day supply levels set in 2008 by DOH with input from medical experts.
Section 48: Repeal of Sections of RCW 69.51A
SB 5052 repeals essential legal protection under RCW 69.51A.047 and 69.51A.025. Instead of prioritizing patient privacy and HIPPA protection, the bill grants local, state, tribal and federal authorities nearly unilateral access to the database for investigational purposes. Amendments in the House intended to make the patient registry voluntary are nullified by the repeal of 69.51A.047 and 69.51A.025 serve to nullify these changes.