While the state was celebrating the Fourth of July, many medical marijuana patients were also commemorating Washington's new medical marijuana law.
The Cannabis Patient Protection Act, which went into effect July 1, merged the unregulated medical marijuana market with the regulated recreational market.
With the law in effect, qualified medical patients now have three means of obtaining marijuana. They can grow a limited number of plants at home, join a four-member cooperative or purchase marijuana from a licensed retail store.
Recreational stores that received a medical marijuana endorsement are now able to sell concentrates and other products identified as medical grade by the state Department of Health. Those dispensaries must have at least one medical marijuana consultant on staff, though all employees will be trained on medical marijuana.
According to the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board, 82 percent of the state's 378 licensed retail stores now have a medical endorsement to sell medical marijuana.
The following Spokane County dispensaries have medical marijuana endorsements: 4:20 Friendly, Cinder (both Spokane and Spokane Valley locations), Endo, First and Third, The Garden, Greenhand, Green Light, The Green Nugget, Green Star Cannabis, Hidden Joint, Locals Canna House, Lucky Leaf, Next Steps, Royal's Cannabis, S&K Green Goods, Sativa Sisters, Satori, Simply Cannabis, Smokane, Spocannabis, Spokane Green Leaf, Toker Friendly, The Top Shelf and Treehouse Club.
It's recommended that medical patients register with the state's medical marijuana authorization database, created by the Department of Health, to receive a recognition card, for which a $1 fee is required.
To register, patients renewing their medical marijuana authorization can have their physician enter their information into the database. Patients who already have their medical marijuana authorization can go to an endorsed dispensary and have the medical marijuana consultant on staff create a recognition card for them.
With these cards, medical users, 21 and older, can buy three times as much product as recreational users, sans sales tax; buy high-THC-infused products; and grow more than four plants at home and have full protection from arrest, prosecution and legal penalties, with an affirmative defense, according to the DOH.
Registration with the authorization database is not required, but patients who don't register will be limited in the amount of cannabis they can possess.
Medical marijuana authorizations must be renewed every year for adult patients, and every six months for patients younger than 18. ♦