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Topic: marijuana legalization
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October 21, 2013 at 7:31 AM
Back in 1998, Washington’s decision to follow California into an experiment with medical marijuana was radical. (See an earlier Seattle Times news story.) But 15 years in, after voters went for the exciting new thing in Initiative 502’s legalized recreation marijuana last fall, medical marijuana now seems be viewed as a late-’90s Honda Prelude, hardly worth its scrap value.
Monday, the state Liquor Control Board is to set to recommend, at the Legislature’s request, upgrades to the Prelude. The Seattle City Council earlier this month gave what most cannabis watchers believe was a sneak preview, asking Gov. Jay Inslee and key lawmakers to merge the medical and soon-to-be opened recreational markets.
The Legislature should because it’s the right thing for patients, and for the state, and because the state can’t allow the two to operate side-by-side. Washington’s medical marijuana market is the most unregulated in the country – no state licensing, taxation or centralized patient registry to assure medical qualification. The recreational market created by Initiative 502 is more heavily regulated than liquor – stringent seed-to-sale controls, heavy tax and closed to people under 21. The tax revenue – estimated to raise between $635 million and $3.2 billion over the next 10 years according to Botec, the Liquor Control Board’s I-502 consultant – is too fat a purse for lawmakers ignore by leaving the medical market an unregulated competitor.