09 March 2011

"Herbal Dispensaries"

As another medical marijuana dispensary sets to open in my neighborhood I am suddenly struck with curiosity about where we are with all of this stuff. Apparently you all passed a law 12 years ago (while I lived out in Oregon) allowing people with certain conditions to grow and smoke their own weed, but didn't think about how people who can't grow it themselves would get it (at this time it seems my own chronic condition is not listed as one of them, darn).

So fast forward and apparently we have roughly 120 dispensaries in Washington state which are not exactly legal, yet. Some were raided as recently as last year and the press around trying to shut down these dispensaries (and the harsh tactics employed by police, including overdoing it a bit and busting people who weren't even involved in them to begin with) has pushed that issue back to the state legislature hoping for clarification. SB 5073 looks to be well on it's way to becoming law with the latest version is now before the house committe on health care and wellness for more revisions probably.

With that being the context, my question is this: if the goal of THIS law is to fix the original 1998 initiative which didn't address certain issues that apparently need to be clarified to provide a safe and secure manner for legitimate medical users to get access to a safe, quality product, does this bill really do that?

The bill goes a LONG way to fix the problems with the original law, but it does not address one major current problem at all: non-medical users are attempting to obtain the stuff grown and processed for sale solely to medical users by fraud and in some cases violent acts (I wouldn't think theft would necessitate violence, but perhaps once you cross the line of breakin the law, the fear of consequense raises the stakes a lot more). Pot farms and dispensaries have been burglarized presumably by potheads too lazy to just grow and process their own illegally like they used to.

So fast-foreward ten years into the future if SB 5073 becomes law and you will have police still busy chasing and prosecuting people for vandalizing, burglarizing and potentially harming those who are trying to stay within the limits of the law by excluding these people from obtaining their product. I don't think anyone will like this, though perhaps some of society will dismiss it by looking down on those who engage in the business of growing and manufacturing "useable cannibas" and "cannibas products" for medicinal use as greedy opportunitists who are just getting what they deserve.

Still, the concern that needs to be addressed is that if cannibas is safe (or can be made in a safe, trusted way) for medical use, it is certainly also safe for recreational use and the problem of recreational use remaining outside the law needs to be considered carefully before we embark on a costly experiment that may indrectly cause harm to those involved (I mention costly because the state is proposing using the department of agriculture to license growers and producers and requiring them to be tested regularly for the quality/grade of product, though presumably the state will also tax the sale and recover some, all or more than the regulation of the pot industry will cost).

Please comment, complain, or just make a lot of noise if you feel that you need some attention :)

Read the latest version of
SB 5073 yourself
Last months
Seattle Times article
Augusts Weekly Volcano feature article
Octobers Volcano article