Here’s something that should soothe medical-marijuana patients: State Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, said she plans to fix medical-marijuana laws in the Legislature next year.
Many patients are nervous about the fate of the largely unregulated, lightly taxed medical system when the state’s new recreational pot stores open next year.
State officials have said they see medical pot undercutting the new recreational system and the tax revenues they expect it to produce. Some have also claimed most patients are actually recreational users.
Kohl-Welles’ credentials should make patients more comfortable about their future.
“She has been the godmother of medical cannabis in the state of Washington. She’s the perfect person to help us sort this out,” said Greta Carter, a medical-marijuana activist and founder of the Coalition for Cannabis Standards and Ethics.
Kohl-Welles has been the premier advocate for medical marijuana in the state Legislature since the mid-1990s. She saw firsthand, she has said, the relief medical marijuana brought a friend and relative who both eventually died from cancer. She sponsored a bill in 2011 that would have more strictly regulated the medical system, but then-Gov. Chris Gregoire vetoed the bill because of concerns about the federal government’s prohibition of all marijuana.
“Although we have made steady progress on establishing a safe, reliable system for procuring medical cannabis, several areas need clarification, such as age limits, taxation of medical marijuana, collective gardens and regulation of health care providers,” Kohl-Welles said in a statement. “I intend to use the 2014 legislative session to make sure the system serves patients and also works within the context of the emerging landscape under I-502 implementation.”