Medical Cannabis Law Action Update

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WA State Capital

The political climate surrounding cannabis and cannabis law is heating up.  Here’s quick guide to what’s going on in the local, state and national scenes.  If you want to get involved, now’s the time.

Local: Seattle

The City of Seattle’s marijuana zoning ordinance is currently a big problem for medical cannabis.  According to Seattle’s Department of Planning and Development Tip 134:

“Starting January 1, 2015, all businesses conducting major marijuana will be required to have a license from the Washington State Liquor Control Board in order to operate in the city of Seattle.”

Unfortunately, since the WA state legislature failed to pass a bill regulating medical cannabis this session, co-ops are finding themselves in a tight spot.  If no action is taken to resolve the issue, medical cannabis dispensaries will be forced to close on January 1, 2015 since no medical licenses will be available and the new legislative session begins on January 1, 2015, leaving no time to enact new rules.

We are asking citizens to urge City Council to amend the ordinance to allow for safe access for medical patients until licenses are available to dispensaries.

Contacts:

Sally Bagshaw – 206.684.8801 – sally.bagshaw@seattle.gov

Sally Clark – 206.8802 – sally.clark@seattle.gov

Nick Licata – 206.684.8803 – nick.licata@seattle.gov

Kshama Sawant – 206.684.8016 – kshama.sawant@seattle.gov

 

State: Washington

As noted in our blog post from March 18th, all bills concerning the regulation of medical cannabis that were submitted to the WA state legislature this session failed to pass. Washington will convene a task force to figure out the issues of combining the medical marijuana system with the upcoming recreational marketplace.

The state is not the only entity interested in resolving the issue. Advocacy groups Sensible Washington and Americans for Safe Access are working on a bill for the next legislative session that will be better for patients’ rights. Additionally Governor Jay Inslee is looking into forming his own committee to deal with the situation.  Regarding the failed legislation Gov. Inslee is quoted as saying,

“I do believe we need a regulated system to assure medical marijuana patients that they in fact do have a legal ability to get access to medical marijuana and that will also satisfy the federal government that we have a disciplined, regulated system.”

More on Gov. Inslee’s reaction here.

To read more about efforts to create a cohesive cannabis system, check out this article from OregonLive.

 

National: US

Congresspeople Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Sam Farr (D-CA) have begun efforts to de-fund the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) anti-medical cannabis efforts.  The two have drafted a letter to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies (CJS) Chair Frank Wolf (R-VA) requesting that the CJS budget exclude DOJ efforts to prosecute medical cannabis patients.  If this request is accepted, the DOJ would no longer be able to raid, arrest, prosecute, convict or incarcerate any state-authorized medical cannabis patients or providers that act in compliance with state law.

For information on who to call and what to say, please see this Action Alert from Americans for Safe Access.

If you prefer to send an email, you can do that from here.

 

 

Dockside Co-op is the First Patient Focused Certified (PFC) Co-op in Washington State!

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Distribution

Dockside Co-op is pleased to announce that as of March 20, 2014, we are the first Patient Focused Certified (PFC) co-op in Washington State.  Dockside is the third dispensary in the nation to achieve this certification, joining SPARC and Berkeley Patients Group, Inc. (both located in California).  Patient Focused Certification (PFC) is a non-profit, third party certification for the medical cannabis industry offered by Americans for Safe Access (ASA). PFC is the only industry certification based on the new quality standards for medical cannabis products and businesses issued by the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) and the American Herbal Pharmacopeia (AHP).

“In the face of failure by state legislators to develop sensible dispensary regulations in Washington State, the Patient Focused Certification program encourages the industry to adhere to important safety and quality standards,” said Maria Moses, Co-founder and Director at Dockside Co-op, which has been located in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle for more than 3 years. “This program gives the industry a baseline to affirm what we’re doing right and to improve upon the service we provide to patients.”

For the full article on Dockside’s PFC, please click here.

WA MMJ Safe for Now – HB 2149 and SB 5887 fail to pass

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wa-state-starburst-cutThe Washington State legislative session ended on March 13th, 2014, passing neither HB 2149 or SB 5887.  That means that for now Washington’s medical cannabis laws will remain unaltered.  Medical cannabis activists are declaring this a victory for Washington’s medical patients as both bills would have significantly restricted patients’ rights, reducing the amount of medicine patients could possess, the number of plants they could grow, and introducing a patient registry.

In January of 2014 Sensible Washington, in conjunction with Americans for Safe Access, formulated an alternative bill, SB 2233, which “would result in no reduction in protections for patients, and would provide them with defined arrest protection, with no requirement of joining a registry. The current possession limit of 24 ounces, and the cultivation limit of 15 plants, would remain unaltered,” according to Sensible Washington.  Unfortunately, SB 2233 stalled in the House Health Care & Wellness Committee and did not receive a hearing.  Sensible Washington plans on filing a similar measure for the next legislative session.

Stay tuned for more updates as we get them.

WA State Medical Cannabis Bills Update

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Lately there have been lots of bills concerning the regulation of medical cannabis moving through the Washington state legislature.  Here’s a brief update on the latest activities.

HB 2149 is a bill sponsored by Eileen Cody(D) that would dismantle Washington state’s collective garden system and impose more restrictions on patient’s rights such as restricting the amount of plants patients can grow, create a mandatory patient registry and reduce the amount of medicine patients can possess.  It did not receive a public hearing via the Senate Ways and Means Committee on Monday.  That means that the bill won’t advance in its current form. Unfortunately, the proposal is to be incorporated into an upcoming budget bill, which will be voted on sometime before the session ends on March 13th.

SB 5887 is a bill sponsored by Ann Rivers (R) that, like HB2149, would further restrict the amount of cannabis patients can possess, eliminate collective gardens and force patients onto a mandatory registry.  This bill has passed out of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, and now sits in the Senate Rules Committee.

Please contact members of the Senate Ways and Means Committee (http://www.leg.wa.gov/Senate/Committees/RULE/Pages/MembersStaff.aspx) as well as the rest of the Senate and urge them to oppose this measure.

Alternatively you can call the legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000 and voice your opinion.

HB 2149 Rumored to be Dead

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Today Sensible Washington posted the following message on Facebook:

“We just spoke with the Chair of the Senate Health Care Committee – House Bill 2149, the proposal to destroy medical cannabis in our state, is dead! It won’t be receiving a public hearing, and won’t be advancing in the Senate.

THANK YOU to everyone who contacted their lawmakers, urging them to oppose this proposal!”

We have yet to confirm this information, but it  looks as though it may indeed be the case.  When we have more information, we’ll post it for you.

In other news another bill has been introduced that may be of interest to MMJ patients. SB 6542 is set to create a Washington State cannabis industry coordinating committee including one representative from each of the following state agencies:

  • The liquor control board
  • The department of health
  • The department of commerce
  • The department of revenue
  • The office of the treasurer
  • The department of agriculture
  • The department of financial institutions

What makes this bill interesting as opposed to previous bills is that the use the term ‘cannabis’ instead of ‘marijuana’.  This seemingly subtle difference has the potential to add legitimacy to the bill via use of the terminology preferred by the medical cannabis community in Washington State.  Up to this point groups seeking to end prohibition of recreational cannabis have preferred the more casual term ‘marijuana.’

We’ll keep you posted on the progress of this and any similar bills.

A Call to Action

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If you haven’t already heard, yesterday the Washington State House of Representatives approved a bill that would eliminate collective gardens and impose new restrictions on patients who use medical cannabis.  The bill, H.B. 2149, can be viewed here.

Keep in mind this bill has only passed in the House so far so there is still time to do something about it.  Now is the prefect time to get involved and let our representatives know how we feel.

What can you do to help?

    1. Phone the Governor

       

    2. Phone your WA State Senator

       

    3. Phone the director of the Department of Health

Tell them your own story about Medical Cannabis and tell it from the heart.

Here are some sample messages patients might use to pattern their own comments:

“Hi, I am a medical marijuana patient and I want to leave a message for the (Governor/ Legislator / Director) regarding medical marijuana. I have concerns that legislation may force medical marijuana and recreational marijuana into the same industry and I do not want to go to a recreational drug store for medicine. I need people who can help me make medical decisions, not tell me how to get high. With respect, I urge the (Governor / Legislator) to please support a stand-alone medical marijuana system. I am not the same as someone wanting to get high on a drug and I need different products and different staff at the retail stores to help me. Thank you so much for your time and help.”

“Hello, I am a registered voter and I stand in solidarity with medical marijuana patients and providers. Please protect patient rights by providing appropriate safe access to medical marijuana. Your office must to shield the patients from the impacts of an unproven recreational pot industry. Think about the health of Washington State before you think about the happy hour.”

“Hello, I am a registered voter, and a medical marijuana patient, and I need appropriate, reliable, safe access to my medicine. Please protect my rights from the impacts of i502. I urge you to keep my medicine out of the recreational pot shops. Defend the people’s voice! Medical Marijuana needs it’s own system! House Bill 2149 is detrimental to to safe, appropriate access to medicine. Real people’s lives are impacted. “

For more information on cannabis activism, please check out the following resources.

Local Campaigns:

  • Health Before Happy Hour – In 2012, the voters of WA approved I-502, a bill to legalize and tax cannabis for recreational use. The voters were promised high tax revenues by the campaign for the state and that the medical cannabis laws would be left alone, but recent statements from I-502 consultants and the Liquor Control Board (LCB) may be putting that promise in jeopardy.  Please consider signing the related petition (located on this page.)

National organizations with local chapters:

  • ASA – Americans for Safe Access (ASA) and Americans for Safe Access Foundation (ASAF) share the mission of ensuring safe and legal access to cannabis (marijuana) for therapeutic uses and research. ASA works with our grassroots base of over 50,000 members to effect change using public education and direct advocacy at the local, state, and federal level. ASAF trains and educates patients, advocates, health care professionals and other stakeholders. ASAF also provides direct legal support and uses impact litigation to protect and expand patients’ rights.
  • NORML – the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws – NORML’s mission is to move public opinion sufficiently to legalize the responsible use of marijuana by adults, and to serve as an advocate for consumers to assure they have access to high quality marijuana that is safe, convenient and affordable.

Picking the Right Strain

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jars of flowersOne of the first things new patients usually comment on when visiting Dockside Cooperative is the large variety of medicines to choose from.  On days like today, there are more than 30 strains of flowers on the shelves.  Sometimes it can be tough to choose the right strain.

The first thing to keep in mind when choosing the right strain for yourself is that cannabis is a natural medicine and as such does not produce standardized results for everyone.  In other words, it tends to affect everyone a little differently.  That being said, there are some general guidelines in terms of effects that can be helpful.

The flowers offered at most access points in the US at this time are of the species cannabis sativa, cannabis indica or a hybrid of these 2 species.  (Please note that almost all modern ‘sativas’ and ‘indicas’ are hybrids to some extent these days due to breeding.)  Many people find it useful to understand the differences between the effects of different strains in terms of how much they conform to the effects typical of each species.

Cannabis Sativa

Cannabis Sativa Leaf

In general sativas tend to be more uplifting – providing energy, some euphoria and often mental stimulation.  Sativas are frequently described as ‘cerebral’ or as having a ‘head’ effect.  Most people use sativas during the day as they can be quite invigorating.  Some patients even prefer to use sativas before hitting the gym.  They can sometimes trigger anxiety in certain patients so it’s wise to be cautious when trying sativa strains for the first time.  Popular sativas include Sour Diesel, Jack Herer, Super Lemon Haze, Green Crack and White Cap.

Cannabis Indica Leaf

Cannabis Indica Leaf

Indicas, on the other hand, tend to be more sedating and relaxing.  They can be great for pain relief and for stress relief.  Indicas are frequently described as having more of a physical ‘body’ effect.  Many people find they are best used in the evening as they sometimes cause drowsiness.  Some heavier indicas can trigger paranoia, so again use caution when trying new strains for the first time.  Popular indicas include LA Confidential, Blueberry, Granddaddy Purple, Crimea Blue and Romulan.

Hybrids tend to incorporate the best of both worlds, inducing effects in both body and head.  Some hybrids lean more towards sativan or indican effects, while others are balanced evenly.  Hybrids that tend to feel more one way or the other are referred to as either sativa dominant or indica dominant.  Popular hybrids include Girl Scout Cookies, Blue Dream, Cactus, Agent Orange, Twilight and Ambrosia.

The effects described above are typical of plants that contain a fair amount of the psychoactive cannabinoid THC that have been smoked or vaporized.  Most of the standard strains found in access points at this time contain at least 8% THC, but many can be much higher.  Many people believe that choosing strains with a high percentage of THC will have the greatest effect.  While this is true in many cases, the cannabinoid profile of a strain along with its terpeneprofile make it a little more difficult to predict how a potent a strain will be.  It’s a good idea to experiment a bit and see what works for you, regardless of what test results say.

Cannabidiol

Lately there has been much attention being given to specially developed strains of cannabis that are low in THC and high in cannabidiol (CBD).  These strains are very different from standard strains in that they are not intoxicating, but provide relief from pain, anxiety and depression.  It seems to be irrelevant as to whether a strain is an indica or a sativa if there is little to no THC since there isn’t much psychoactive effect. Popular strains that are not intoxicating include The Remedy, Harlequin, Shark, ACDC and Sour Tsunami #3.

Some high CBD strains are also high in THC.  These combine the pain-relieving effects of CBD with the intoxicating effects of THC.  The strains will conform to traditional expectations of sativas or indicas.  One such strain is Cannatonic, which provides excellent pain relief along with the relaxing qualities of a typical indica.

The most important factor in deciding which strain is right for you is how it affects you personally.  Regardless of the expectations we might have of a strain, it really comes down to whether or not it works for you.  We recommend trying a small amount (1 gram is a good start) and trying it at least three times.  Naturally if you have an adverse reaction, discontinue using that strain immediately.

If you are interested in sampling several strains, ask about Dockside‘s sample packs which contain 8 varieties of pre-selected strains (1 gram of each), available in indica, sativa or half indica/sativa.

For a more in depth explanation of indica vs sativa, check out this excellent article from Berkeley Patients Care Collective:

http://berkeleypatientscare.com/2011/03/12/beginners-guide-to-medical-cannabis-choosing-the-right-strain/

This article from Sensi Seeds is another great read on the subject:

http://sensiseeds.com/en/blog/about-sensi-seeds/sensi-seeds-and-medicinal-cannabis/how-to-choose-a-medicinal-cannabis-strain/