By Michael “Buffalo” Mazzetti
Whereas: The original intention of the Medical Marijuana Act, voted on by Washington State referendum, was to give safe and legal access to those patients qualifying to use it.
And Whereas: Original medical cannabis legislation did not include an effective, efficient nor traceable system of distribution.
And Whereas: Taxes are generally not being collected on medical cannabis.
And Whereas: Senior, veterans and disabled children’s programs (501(c)(3)) are often underfunded.
And Whereas: A thriving cannabis “gray market” exists in Washington State.
Therefore it is proposed:
- Any adult 18 years or older may grow 12 cannabis plants. (The Colorado model works fine…)
- A system of medical dispensaries will be set up that is administered by each county that is separate from the recreational system.
- The county commissioners would create a “Cannabis for Medical Use Board” (CMUB) to determine policy in their community regarding all aspects of this market. This board would be comprised of seven people. One member from the county Health Department, a licensed medical doctor, a licensed PA, RN or LPN, a local attorney, a cannabis patient, a cannabis provider and a member of a not-for-profit organization that is participating in medical cannabis distribution.
- Dispensaries would be run by not-for-profit organizations that benefit elders, veterans, disabled children, etc. All profits accrued by these endeavors would benefit nursing homes, in-home care, hospice, food banks, community action programs, children’s hospitals, families with disabled children, veterans, etc. Sales would provide assistance to our underfunded public service 501(c)(3) organizations.
- Licensing and regulation fees (authorized by the CMUB) are charged to growers, processors and point-of-sale establishments. Revenue is thereby generated for the CMUB activities to regulate the not-for-profit cannabis for medical use market while remaining revenue neutral.
- Commissioners will appoint a “Cannabis Patient Peer Review Panel” that will address issues that may arise and advise the CMUB accordingly.
- Dispensaries would be located in each county. Any counties or cities wanting to opt out will put forth a referendum to determine this issue. Counties, cities and municipalities may not create restrictive zoning and other costly rules or regulations that increase the cost of cannabis to the patient.
- Patients would be allowed to grow 15 plants at a time. A collective garden could contain up to 60 plants if it was being grown for four or more patients. Four patents living on the same property may have 15 plants each and not be considered a collective. A designated provider, as defined currently in Washington State law, would remain as-is.
- Cannabis that was produced on these farms, and being more than the needs of the licensed and regulated collective or individual patient, would be sold to the authorized dispensaries. Sales could include plants, starts and seeds of cannabis. Sales of less than $500 per 12-month period could be exempt from fees, at the discretion of the dispensary and/or CMUB.
- Before sales, all cannabis products will be tested at a laboratory authorized by the CMUB. The burden of the cost of this test is on the grower. Sales of less than $500 per 12-month period are not required to have this test at the discretion of the dispensary.
- Any person or collective selling to a dispensary (except as described in item nine above) would be required to have a Washington State business license, have tested products, be licensed by the CMUB and file excise tax annually.
- Dispensaries would purchase cannabis from the patient/provider/collective growers, and could concentrate or produce other consumable products from this material.
- All profits from sales to cannabis patients would go to the above-mentioned groups benefiting seniors, veterans, disabled children, etc.
- No employee of the dispensary could make a salary greater than the highest paid employee of the county.
- Farmers markets may occur within the state. Here, producers, processors and collective gardens, or their representatives, meet with cannabis patients or their designated providers to offer their excess harvests and products. The CMUB will regulate these activities. All sales are subject to a county or city sales tax and must be reported as income. It is the responsibility of the organizer of these markets to ensure that all participants follow the rules set forth by the CMUB.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TMI) are hereby added to the list of qualifying conditions recognized as treatable with cannabis.
- Cannabis is hereby removed from the Control Substances Act.
- A “qualifying patient” shall not have to have tried “standard treatments and medications” before deciding to use cannabis to treat their condition. This is the patient’s free choice of treatment.
- All non-violent prisoners in jail for marijuana offenses shall be released from prison or jail. All former prisoners meeting these conditions will have their voting rights reinstated.
Michael “Buffalo” Mazzetti is an activist from Tonasket, Washington and founder of Political Action Water.