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Washington Senate Passes Medical Marijuana Dispensary Bill

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #674)
Drug War Issues
Politics & Advocacy

The Washington state Senate last Wednesday night approved a bill that would allow for licensed medical marijuana dispensaries on a vote of 29-20. The bill, SB 5073, was approved only after lengthy debate and after several amendments opposed by supporters were adopted.

Moving toward dispensaries in the Evergreen State (Image via Wikimedia)
Under Washington's existing medical marijuana law, patients or caregivers can grow their own medicine, but there is no provision for sales. But not every patient can grow his or her own medicine, and some patients have formed collectives to grow cooperatively. Others have gone further, forming dispensaries that serve hundreds or even thousands of patients.

Since state law does not provide for dispensaries, some prosecutors have gone after them. The state itself sends mixed signals, with the Health Department saying they're not legal, but the Revenue Department seeking sales taxes from them.

The measure authorizes the Department of Health to license dispensaries and the Department of Agriculture to license growers. It also creates a registry when authorized users can enroll, providing them with greater protection from prosecution.

"My intention is to ensure patients who are qualified have safe, secure reliable source for the medication that works for them," said Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles (D-Seattle), one of the bill's sponsors.

The bill passed the Senate only after being amended to require dispensaries to be nonprofits, to ban dispensary advertising in newspapers, and to give municipalities the power of approving dispensary locations.

The measure now heads to the House. The House companion bill is HB 1100.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


[email protected] (not verified)

I wish New York State would do this! But sadly sick people in New York State, even veterans who need this due to service connected illness, like my late father, Andrew Zebrun Jr., who died for this country!

Thu, 03/03/2011 - 9:13pm Permalink
Moonrider (not verified)


The non-profit requirement is just plain wrong.  If the State government insists on that provision, then ALL pharmacies in the State (independent and chain, alike) should also be required to be non-profits.  Such a provision for all pharmacies would go over like a lead balloon, I'm certain, as it should.  People are supposed to profit from their businesses, if their business is successful; only charities are supposed to be non-profit.  Talk about an un-American policy!  I always knew most politicians were un-American, in general (just look at the unconstitutional laws that have been enacted over the past century to see that), now with this amendment to the dispensary bill, it's been clearly proven to all, beyond doubt, that WA State politicians definitely are un-American.

Sat, 03/05/2011 - 3:53am Permalink
Pam Phree (not verified)

I agree that it's time for the people of Washington to wake up and smell the coffee: marijuana is medicine. I have a friend who's a disabled Vietnam Vet who has been prescribed Vicodin for his chronic pain. Vicodin, over the years, has tore up his stomach and wrecked havoc with his liver. When he tried marijuana to see if it would help, he said he slept soundly throughout the night for the first time in over thirty years. The unfortunate part of legalization is the government as always, is regulating it to death. Marijuana dispensaries SHOULD make a profit as do pharmacies. And why do we need all this licensing from the Dept of Health and Dept of Agriculture? So the State can make bucks on the licensing. I know for a fact, dispensaries are already charging sales tax. Too bad we haven't progressed to the point where the people have a say in all this. Regulating it as much as the gov't is, is going to further hinder the people from obtaining the medicine they need.
Tue, 03/08/2011 - 9:41am Permalink

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