Last Update: March 21, 2014

Washington Legislature adjourns without passing medical marijuana proposal

The Washington Legislature has adjourned for the year without passing legislation modifying the state’s medical marijuana law. With the state preparing for retail marijuana stores to start operating in the late spring or summer, lawmakers debated whether to bring the medical marijuana law in line with the provisions of I-502.

Lawmakers had to decide between the federal concerns of bringing the medical marijuana system under a clear regulatory framework and the concerns patients and caregivers expressed about the legislation offered. Ultimately, the legislature failed to pass a bill, leaving the issue for a future session. The last time the legislature tried to create this structure for the medical marijuana program was back in 2011, but the law was gutted by then-Gov. Christine Gregoire, who vetoed the portions of the law that would have regulated dispensaries and given patients ID cards and protection from arrest.

 Liquor Control Board finalizes rules for I-502

The Washington State Liquor Control Board, the agency charged with implementing I-502, has finalized its regulations governing the operation of marijuana businesses and is in the process of reviewing applications for marijuana establishments. More than 7,000 applications were submitted, including more than 2,800 producer (grower) applications and more than 2,200 retailer applications. The state plans to license 334 total retailers this spring.

Washington's marijuana regulation law — which was spearheaded by New Approach Washington and went into effect on December 6, 2012 — protects adults 21 and older in the Evergreen State from being arrested for possession and private use of up to an ounce of marijuana. However, individuals under 21 still face criminal penalties for the simple possession of marijuana. According to the ACLU, blacks in Washington are over two and a half times as likely to get arrested for marijuana possession than whites. Email your legislators and urge them to support legislation that makes marijuana possession by individuals under 21 subject to a civil fine, not jail time.

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Thank you for supporting the Marijuana Policy Project and all of our allies. If you have questions about marijuana policy reform in Washington, please contact us by email at state@mpp.org for more information. Don't forget to subscribe to MPP's free legislative alert service, if you haven't done so already.







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