WA: Medical marijuana bill stirs debate
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Posted 27 March 2007 - 07:13 AM
The Spokesman Review, WA
Medical marijuana bill stirs debate
Supporters argue measure clarifies hazy '98 initiative
March 27, 2007
OLYMPIA – In 1998, Washington voters approved an initiative allowing seriously ill patients to use marijuana.
But nine years later, lawmakers are still working out the details. How much marijuana is allowed? Where are patients supposed to get it? And what is their doctors' role in all this, given that the federal government still considers marijuana an illegal drug?
A bill that attempts to address some of those questions attracted a demonstration and standing-room-only crowd Monday for a hearing before the House Health Care and Wellness Committee.
Patients lined up on both sides of the measure, with supporters saying it's important to clarify an ambiguous law. Critics urged lawmakers to block the bill, in part because of a provision that directs the state Department of Health to determine how much marijuana constitutes the "60-day supply" deemed legal for patients under the law.
"That's up to my doctor and myself," said Steve Sarich, executive director of CannaCare, a group that advocates on behalf of medical marijuana patients. "How can the Department of Health decide how much medication I need?"
Supporters of the bill, Senate Bill 6032, said having the state define a 60-day supply would give patients and law enforcement officers some guidelines, and patients could petition to be allowed to have more.
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