(Updated 4:50 pm with addition of Mayor McGinn’s statement)
Governor Gregoire has vetoed parts of SB 5073, the medical-marijuana regulation/licensing bill, and reaction is starting to roll in. Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes‘ statement says in part, “A rational regulatory framework, which the Legislature’s bill would have brought us, is even more necessary with the proliferation of dispensaries we’ve seen in recent years. Because of the governor’s actions today, these dispensaries will remain mired in a legal gray area …” Two dispensaries are promoting their operations in West Seattle right now, with a third on the way, and two medical-marijuana operations are opening in White Center. Read on for Holmes’ statement; we’ll add any more information/reaction that comes in:
From Pete Holmes (who spoke to us a few weeks back about his hopes for state regulation):
I am profoundly disappointed that at the 11th hour and 59th minute Gov. Chris Gregoire vetoed the central operative sections of the medical cannabis legislation championed and shepherded through the Legislature by the bipartisan team of Sens. Jeanne Kohl-Welles and Jerome Delvin and Rep. Eileen Cody.
The governor’s objections, which were voiced far too late in a lengthy process that started in the middle of last year, deprive patients, health care professionals, local governments and law enforcement of a regulatory framework so vitally needed since voters approved medical marijuana in 1998. The primary concern the governor cited—that state employees could be arrested by the federal government—is a red herring at best, as esteemed constitutional expert Hugh Spitzer detailed in his letter to Gregoire this week.
A rational regulatory framework, which the Legislature’s bill would have brought us, is even more necessary with the proliferation of dispensaries we’ve seen in recent years. Because of the governor’s actions today, these dispensaries will remain mired in a legal gray area, and many sick patients will be forced to keep buying their medical cannabis from drug dealers.
The Legislature and numerous stakeholders worked hard to show responsible leadership on this important issue. The governor’s decision to step in at the last minute and hastily veto the bill without taking the time to consider the legal explanations offered this week by Professor Spitzer and others will unfortunately strengthen those irresponsible actors who would prefer to see the medical cannabis market remain an unregulated gray market.
However disappointed I am in the governor’s actions today, I will continue working with the Legislature and other state and local officials to do everything possible to bring patients, health care professionals, local governments, and law enforcement the rational regulatory framework and legal protections that has been lacking since the voters approved Initiative 692.
ADDED 4:50 PM: Statement from Seattle’s mayor:
“Today the Governor vetoed the heart of the medical marijuana bill. This bill would have provided us with a much needed comprehensive state framework regulating the production, processing, and distribution of medical marijuana. Today’s actions leave us with the same problems that we currently face: too many patients have to take unnecessary risks to obtain their medicine, confusion for law enforcement, a proliferation of dispensaries across Seattle, and an inability to regulate dispensaries properly.
I am grateful for the Legislature’s hard work on this bill and I admire their leadership on this issue. They passed the most comprehensive state medical marijuana system in the country. In particular, I would like to thank Senators Kohl-Welles and Delvin, and Representative Cody for all of their work on this important legislation.
I hope that we can work together during the special session to find a path forward that protects legitimate patients’ access to medical marijuana and also protects our communities.”