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In 2012, the voters of WA approved I-502, a bill to legalize and tax cannabis for recreational use. The voters were promised high tax revenues by the campaign for the state and that the medical cannabis laws would be left alone, but recent statements from I-502 consultants and the Liquor Control Board (LCB) may be putting that promise in jeopardy.
As Washington’s LCB moves forward with plans to fully implement I-502 and open retail stores across the state, some have suggested that medical cannabis be folded into the recreational system, even though it is still in the development stages. As the original intent of the state's medical cannabis laws were grounded in compassion and not a desire for increased tax revenue, patients and advocates are concerned that the LCB is not the appropriate entity to oversee the state's medical cannabis program.
Specific concerns about folding the medical cannabis program into the I-502 scheme include:
- Increased taxation of medical cannabis, even though herbal medicines are not subject to tax in WA
- Concentrated preparations of cannabis could be restricted
- A decrease in the availability of non-psychoactive preparations
- Retail stores under 502 are not legally permitted to discuss the therapeutic benefits of cannabis
- Patients continue to lack legal protections from arrest, something even recreational users are now entitled to
As a way to address these concerns, advocates have created the "Health Before Happy Hour" Campaign and are urging Governor Inslee and state lawmakers to pass legislation that maintains the original compassionate intent of I-692.
You can help by signing this petition to create a medical cannabis program wholly separate from the recreational I-502 program. This would allow for state-licensed dispensaries, explicit arrest protection, and ensure that patients have safe access to affordable medical cannabis.