By Anthony Martinelli
Before TheJointBlog.com launched as a daily cannabis news site in January, 2013, I served as the Campaign Manager for then-Washington State Representative Dave Upthegrove, who's now on the King County Council. I also worked for his political action committee, which purpose is to help elect progressive candidates. During the 2012 election, I spent well over 100 hours - primarily volunteer, though some paid (by the before-mentioned PAC) - helping to get Jay Inslee elected as governor. I believe he generally has strong values, and some great policy positions. But after the signing of Senate Bill 5052, he's lost my support, and won't be receiving my time, nor my vote, when running for reelection next year.
I, along with most politically-minded individuals, understand the dangers of single-issue voting. Typically, it's a bad idea to support or oppose a candidate based on one particular issue. However, the impact that Senate Bill 5052 will have on some of the sickest people in our state - and the clear warning signs that were put forth by countless opponents - make it clear that Governor Inslee is not the right man to lead Washington State.
For those that aren't aware, Senate Bill 5052 was signed by Governor Inslee on Friday, a day notoriously used for signing potentially controversial legislation, as it will hit the weekend news cycle when less people are paying attention. The proposal will require every medical cannabis dispensary in the state to close by July 1st, 2016. This will put an end to thousands of jobs, in addition to drastically decreasing safe access for patients, who will be required to purchase from recreational cannabis outlets (despite most cities in the state prohibiting them) or rely on the black-market.
Even worse, the bill will make felons overnight out of potentially thousands of patients by reducing their possession limits from twenty ounces, to three, and their cultivation limits from fifteen plants, to six. Patients caught possessing between three and twenty four ounces, or caught growing between seven and fifteen plants - which is legal today - will be committing class C felonies once the law takes effect, and could be imprisoned for up to 5 years. This change is completely disgraceful, and is being made without any legitimate reason (the limits have been in place for roughly 15 years, with no one in the public calling for a change).
Under Senate Bill 5052, patients who don't join a patient database will only be allowed to possess an ounce, and cultivate up to four plants. Those who do will be placing their name and address on a government-operated list admitting to committing a federal crime. This is in clear violation of federal HIPAA laws, and is also entirely discriminatory as the use of no other medicine requires entry into a database.
Frankly, the entire bill is a disaster, and I'm in complete shock that Governor Inslee would support it (you can find which legislators voted yes by clicking here). The fact that he would sign it into law makes it clear that he does not have the best interest of the public - especially those with serious, debilitating conditions - in mind. He needs to be unelected to make it clear to him and other politicians that unnecessary and devastating legislation such as this will not be tolerated.
I don't know who it is that will run against Governor Inslee in 2016, and I certainly don't know if they'll have my support, but I do know one thing for sure; Governor Inslee no longer does.