A bipartisan team of Washington State Representatives has introduced a sweeping amendment to Senate Bill 5052 ahead of an expected vote slated for Friday afternoon. The "Patient Protection Amendment" would make significant improvements to the bill, which has faced stiff opposition from the health care community.
"As currently written, Senate Bill 5052 would recriminalize countless patients and caregivers in Washington. Without meaningful amendments, safe, affordable access to medical cannabis in our state will be restricted significantly," says Rep. Luis Moscoso (D - Mountlake Terrace). "In a state where marijuana is legal, there should be no uncertainty that the specialty strains and medical products that patients are using today will still be available in the future.
The "Patient Protection Amendment" offers solutions to a number of well-documented concerns from medical cannabis patients, health care professionals, compassionate caregivers and those in the industry. Some of the biggest changes include:
- Preserves the sanctity of the Doctor-Patient relationship
- Restores patients ability to possess a 60-day supply of medication
- Institutes clear parameters for private, noncommercial patient-to-patient cooperatives
- Ensures that medical cannabis businesses are subject to regulatory oversight by providing a distinct path for licensure
- Incentivizes participation in a patient registry, without penalizing those who choose not to do so
"Senate Bill 5052 should live up to its name, and our 'patient protection' amendment makes sure that happens," said Rep. Cary Condotta (R-East Wenatchee).
Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the nation's largest medical marijuana patient advocacy organization, is throwing their weight behind the bipartisan proposal by urging members of the Legislature to vote "No" without needed amendments.
"Unless there's a major overhaul, Senate Bill 5052 is simply too damaging to support," said Steph Sherer, ASA's executive director. "Regulating our state's cannabis industry shouldn't require patients to suffer."
Proponents of Initiative 502 to tax and regulate marijuana for recreational use made repeated promises throughout the campaign and implementation process that Washington's medical cannabis law would not be undermined by legalization. The "Patient Protection Amendment" offers a pathway to a state-licensed medical cannabis industry, while preserving critical legal protections that patients have now.
Similar legislation to create a well-regulated industry was passed by the Legislature in 2011, but largely vetoed by then-Governor Gregoire due to fears of federal intervention. These concerns have been alleviated by recent passage of federal legislation spearheaded by ASA to prohibit DOJ interference in state-legal medical marijuana programs.
The Patient Protection Amendment:http://www.safeaccessnow.org/wa_amendment_5052_s2_amh_appl_blac_080
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With over 50,000 active members in all 50 states, Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is the largest national member-based organization of patients, medical professionals, scientists and concerned citizens promoting safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research. ASA works to overcome political and legal barriers by creating policies that improve access to medical cannabis for patients and researchers through legislation, education, litigation, grassroots actions, advocacy and services for patients and the caregivers.