Thursday, April 21, 2011

Dispensary bill goes to governor; she's "disappointed"

Posted on Thu, Apr 21, 2011 at 1:20 PM

The Washington state Senate concurred with the House today on a bill intended to clarify the state's 13-year-old medical marijuana law, by a 27-21 vote.

Though last week she threatened to not sign the bill, Gov. Chris Gregoire said today she would "review the bill to determine any parts that can assist patients in need without putting state employees at risk."

Media outlets are reporting that she's said she'd veto sections of it, but not the bill in its entirety. 

Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, was the primary co-sponsor of the bill.

In her own statement today, she said:

"This is a huge step forward in ensuring that qualifying patients have safe, consistent and reliable access to their medicine ... Currently, unless patients grow for themselves or obtain medical marijuana from a designated provider, the law doesn’t offer a legal pathway for patients to access their medicine. This bill creates a much needed regulatory framework so both patients and law enforcement have a bright line in knowing what is legal and what isn't."

Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, D-Spokane, voted for the bill, as did freshman Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane. Sen. Jeff Baxter, R-Spokane Valley, voted against it. 

Here's the governor's statement in whole:

“I realize the value that medical marijuana has for patients and support the voter-approved initiative. I also agree with the intent of the Legislature to clarify ambiguity surrounding search and arrest as well as concerns around dispensaries and access. We need to create a system that works.

I asked the Legislature to work with me on a bill that does not subject state workers to risk of criminal liability. I am disappointed that the bill as passed does not address those concerns while also meeting the needs of medical marijuana patients.

I will review the bill to determine any parts that can assist patients in need without putting state employees at risk. No state employee should have to break federal law in order to do their job.”

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