2014 LEGISLATIVE SESSION REVIEW
SESSION IS OVER, MEDICAL WAS UNDER FIRE BUT…..
The bill to restrict medical marijuana and create a patient registry was technically alive until the final hour of the legislative session. Weighed down with numerous amendments, it wasn’t passed before the deadline. People will tell you however that bill was dead a long time ago. We can hope that legislators let the bill die because they were finally persuaded it was bad policy. The simple fact is, 5887 died for the same reasons many pieces of legislation die; politics.
As the bill passed various procedural hurdles, members began to barter and bet on its passage or failure. The original bill had three good ideas at best and the remainder was garbage. Add the short session, a divided legislature, and you have a recipe for failure.
You can bet that Legislators will be back at it again next January. The important thing is that we work with policymakers in the interim to develop a set of bills that protect patients and encourage the health of the new recreational market.
A note on the specter of federal intervention:
The feds are coming? No. Why?
#1. The DEA wasn’t sitting around waiting for the WA Legislature to fix the loopholes around MMJ so they wouldn’t have to come in and bust heads.
#2. Federal laws didn’t change and Washington’s haphazard attempt to throw the kitchen sink at MMJ wasn’t going to alter federal law or its enforcement priority in Washington State.
#3. If the DEA decides to bust a few dispensaries in the next year, SB 5887 (or 2149) wouldn’t have changed that reality. They have shown time and again that their enforcement priorities are large scale laundering, tax evasion, and trafficking of other illicit drugs. They don’t have the resources or the directive to go after 95% of all the collective gardens in existence.
#4. Raid operations usually require the cooperation and assistance of local law enforcement. If you’re doing something to get SPD or KCSO involved, you’re doing it wrong.. really, really, wrong.
#5. Banking, lending, and taxes; the sooner we move away from a cash-only businesses, the less federal law enforcement will be involved. Some local financial institutions are already working with canna-business and access to banking could expand rapidly as the new market takes shape.
If the State believes that shrinking MMJ is critical to the success of i502, then they have to create incentives for consumers to transition to a I502 store. The novelty, the legality, the quality, and convenience all play a role. Competing on price alone will take time and may never drop to the point of what people are currently comfortable paying. The solutions will take time to arise and no matter what happens, the DEA isn’t going to eliminate the black market; If the last 40+ years have taught us anything. Some level of transition will eventually occur, but this time around the DEA will be hands off There interest has moved back into arenas of greater need. The genie escaped the bottle and left the building, certainly our friends at the DEA know that better than anyone.