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Politics Northwest

The Seattle Times political team explores national, state and local politics.

January 22, 2015 at 5:24 PM

Medical marijuana regulation gets hearing in Olympia

OLYMPIA — A crowded Senate hearing Thursday reviewed controversial legislation proposed by State Sen. Ann Rivers, R-La Center, to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries the same as recreational stores. Growing operations, the Washington CannaBusiness Association, the city of Seattle and others were there in favor of more regulation.

Eric Cooper, co-owner of Monkey Grass Farms, a growing and processing farm in Wenatchee, said medical dispensaries that aren’t required to test their product get an unfair advantage. Cooper said that he used to sell a gram for $8, and now sells it for $4.

“No business comes with a guarantee of making it or having success,” he said. “In most businesses we’ve been in we’ve always been on a level playing field with our peers and right now that’s not happening.”

Advocates of dispensaries voiced worries that regulation would harm dispensaries that care deeply for their patients. Arthur West, an Olympia activist who frequently testifies, said he opposed the bill because it would create a state monopoly on marijuana that would drive prices up.

“It’s impacting patients,” he said.

A 2011 attempt to regulate the medical marijuana trade was vetoed by former Gov. Chris Gregoire.

Comments | More in Politics Northwest | Topics: I-502, marijuana, medical marijuana

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