Rework the vetoed medical-marijuana law
Gov. Chris Gregoire bailed out on Washington citizens using medical marijuana to relieve the pain of various debilitating conditions and treatments. Her artful veto of the law must be taken up in the Legislature's special session.
GOV. Chris Gregoire needs to be reminded why Washington voters overwhelmingly approved a 1998 law to allow the regulated use of marijuana. People wanted relief from grievous medical conditions and treatments.
Her artful veto Friday of the Medical Use of Cannabis Act stranded those citizens, and their loved ones, who sought to play by the rules.
First and foremost, the governor is an elected advocate for the people, not a law-school pedant or supplicant for a federal job.
A much debated and modified Senate Bill 5073, passed by the Legislature with broad bipartisan support, spoke to gaps in the 13-year-old initiative that allowed medical use of marijuana, but provided no practical way to get it.
State Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, crafted legislation that offered arrest protection and provided a state administrative structure for growers, processors and dispensers.
The state Department of Agriculture would oversee, and could contract out, oversight of drug strength, packaging, labeling and inspections. The state Department of Health would have authority over distributors and security.
Both agencies would require record-keeping and accountability. The state would even collect business and sales taxes, as would local governments.
Instead of focusing on a framework for helping people with terminal and debilitating diseases and treatment regimes, the governor took shelter in narrow legal language. She chose to calibrate the intent of federal officials to prosecute state employees for administering the proposed law.
As a result of the governor's pick-and-choose veto, bureaucratic anxiety about the legality of marijuana dispensaries, which could have been resolved by the legislation, will continue to linger and perplex local government.
Kohl-Welles is strongly encouraged to revise her bill for the Legislature's special session. Work with the governor to assure medical-cannabis users that their legal status and access to relief is enhanced.
Medically incapacitated people do not grow their own marijuana. A responsible attempt to address that fiction with a regulated alternative was stymied by the governor.