by Sara 

State senator introduces new medical marijuana bill


State senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles (D) of the 36th District is introducing new legislation which would clarify the state’s voter-approved medical marijuana law.

Last week, Governor Christine Gregoire vetoed portions of Senate Bill 5073. In a prepared statement, Governor Gregoire said, “But the central concerns I raised still stand: we cannot presume to assure protections to one group of people?patients, providers and health care professionals?in a way that subjects another group, Department of Health and Department of Agriculture employees to federal arrest or criminal liability. That is not acceptable to me; it is not workable.” (Entire statement can be read here.)

“I was disappointed that the governor vetoed most of Senate Bill 5073 ? legislation that took nearly two years to develop based on input from a diverse group of stakeholders,” Kohl-Welles said. “However, I believe she fully understands the need to provide protections for qualifying patients in accessing a safe, secure and reliable source of their medicine.”

The new bill (SB 5955) introduced by Kohl-Welles and a bipartisan group of senators, “addresses the governor?s concerns over state employees? not being immune from federal arrest and protection by establishing a system of nonprofit patient cooperatives for qualifying patients to obtain their medical marijuana. The revamped bill would also allow local governments to control where dispensaries may be located and provide arrest protection for patients enrolled in a voluntary, confidential state registry,” the press release states.

“The new bill has been well-received in preliminary meetings with the governor and her staff as well as by many other stakeholders,” Kohl-Welles added. There is a public hearing this morning in the Senate Ways & Means Committee.

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