By: Cecil King
Legal Medical Cannabis States Forge Ahead of Missouri
At the beginning of July 2016, the status of growing medical marijuana in Missouri is still prohibited. Missourians remain blocked from using the cannabis plant’s medicinal properties to fight cancer, glaucoma, chronic pain, epilepsy, and a host of other debilitating conditions. Not so in the state of Washington.
Washington’s authorized medical cannabis patients began celebrating their new enhanced status July 1, 2016 under the state’s Cannabis Patient Protection Act (CPPA).
Authorized medical marijuana patients in Washington can now plant a few extra cannabis plants in their medical gardens, up to six, and posses eight ounces of usable cannabis. Those patients with special needs may plant up to 15 plants and possess 16 ounces when an approved healthcare practitioner authorizes additional usage for their treatment.
Obtaining medical cannabis patient authorization is a straightforward procedure in Washington, unlike other states such as Illinois or Ohio. Washington has no requirements for background checks and FBI fingerprinting. You will not need to provide a passport quality photo as Illinois requires.
A marijuana patient in Washington must simply meet with his or her healthcare provider who will qualify their condition. That healthcare professional will fill in and sign a state approved authorization form for the patient.
The patient must bring that authorization form to their local retail cannabis shop with a Medical Marijuana Endorsement. These retail stores will provide the services of an on-staff Medical Marijuana Consultant who will enter the patient’s form data into the new state-wide database now operational as of July 1st. Proof of residency is required. On successful registration, an official Medical Marijuana Recognition Card is produced on the spot. Total card cost: $1.00.
Washington’s modern medical cannabis program does not treat patients as criminals. The process doesn’t involve any lengthy delays to mail an authorization form or state identification document to a central processing facility. A patient’s criminal history is not a factor in treatment.
Up to four medical cannabis patients in Washington may participate together in a common cooperative garden. For those without a green thumb, medical cannabis patients can purchase products at medically endorsed retail stores sales tax free. Even though sales tax is not charged, the price of cannabis still reflects the excise tax levied on commercial growers.
Patients with a recognition card may purchase up to three times the current limits or three ounces and buy high-THC products.
Washington voters approved medical cannabis usage in 1998 (Initiative 692) and recreational usage in 2012 (Initiative 502). In the preamble to the CPPA (2SSB-5052), legislators acknowledged recreational users benefit from lab tested cannabis that provides quality assurance, identifies levels of THC, CBD, and protects consumers from mold and adulterants.
Lawmakers wrote, “no such standards exist for medical users,” and consequently, with passage of the Cannabis Patient Protection Act, Washington state confirms, “it is not the public policy of the state to allow qualifying patients to only have access to products that may be endangering their health.”
Washington’s citizens and legislators have raised the bar for the remaining 25 states, including Missouri, who have not passed medical cannabis legislation.