wrote on the subject  April 15 2015

Yesterday the Washington State Legislature sent Gov. Jay Inslee a bill that abolishes medical marijuana dispensaries and calls upon state-licensed retailers to serve patients as well as recreational consumers. Under S.B. 5052, which was introduced by Sen. Ann Rivers (R-La Center) in January, the “collective gardens” that currently supply medical marijuana have to shut down by July 2016. After that patients will have to buy their medicine from stores overseen by the Washington State Liquor Control Board, which the bill renames the Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB). The board is charged with granting “medical marijuana endorsements” to retailers who decide to specialize in that market. Patients will still have the option of growing their own medicine, but the legal limits will be dramatically reduced.

Unlike Rivers’ original bill, the current version, which Inslee is expected to sign, does not require patients to register with the state. But those who do will receive “recognition cards” that confer several important advantages. Card holders will be allowed to buy marijuana even if they are younger than 21 (the minimum age for recreational consumers), as long as they are at least 18. They will escape some of the taxes that the state imposes on marijuana, and they will be allowed to possess more marijuana in public: up to three ounces, three times the limit for recreational users. They also will be allowed to grow more plants: up to six rather than the four allotted to unregistered patients, down from the current presumptive limit of 15. Up to four registered patients can form a “cooperative,” growing up to 60 plants for their own use.

Unlike the four other jurisdictions that have legalized marijuana for general use (Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and the District if Columbia), Washington does not allow recreational consumers to grow cannabis at home. But since Washington’s medical marijuana initiative took effect in 1999, patients with doctor’s recommendations have been allowed to do so. Rivers originally sought not only to scale back that right but to reserve it for registered patients, so the final bill represents a compromise on that point.

Read the Ganjapreneur report to see how small and artisan businesses view the new legislative environment