It’s official; you don’t have to be a doctor to approve medical marijuana patients in Washington State. Earlier today, Governor Chris Gregoire signed into law Senate Bill 5798, which adds physician assistants, naturopaths, advanced registered nurse practitioners and others among the list of qualified people that can approve marijuana for medicinal purposes. The law will take effect on June 10th. This new expansion to the Washington State program is revolutionary, considering no other state allows this in their program, not even California or Colorado. Slowly but surely, Washington State is quietly becoming the best place to be a medical marijuana patient.
Washington State does not have dispensaries, which some people point to as a flaw in their program. However, due to the fact that they have no dispensaries, they have been able to operate under the radar with little federal scrutiny. Washington State allows 15 plants per card (any size), and possession of up to 24 dried ounces. Oregon allows that much possession, but not that many full sized plants. One could argue that California has no limits, and therefore is better, and I will bow to that argument (for now). However, California is constantly being harassed by the feds, and having ‘no limits’ can also come back to hurt the patient.
The current law in California is ‘whatever is reasonable.’ I don’t like that subjective language in a law, because law enforcement will take advantage of it. What is ‘reasonable’ to me might not be ‘reasonable’ to them. The California patient will win at trial, but only after lawyer fees, lost medicine, and police harassment. If you set the California argument aside, it is clear that Washington State is the best place to grow medical marijuana, in regards to the amount of full sized plants you can have per card.
What is amazing to me is that the state legislature brought the change, not an initiative by the voters. They claimed it was to help people in rural areas where it is harder to get approved for the program. FINALLY, COMMON SENSE FROM THE GOVERNMENT!! I can’t believe it. This will dramatically expand access to patients that want to be in the program. I sure hope other states will follow suit, as there are far more assistants, naturopaths, etc, than there are doctors out there, and I bet they are more open minded about signing forms for medical marijuana as well.