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Cannabis Legislation

Swift action is being taken this legislative session to reconcile the existing medical and recreational Cannabis markets in Washington. In a recent article posted on The Daily Beast, Bill Conroy takes a look at what politicians are pushing legislation forward, and what private interests are joining the conversation.


Two bills stand out and the debate they tee up seems typically partisan. The first is sponsored by Senator Ann Rivers (R) and seems to be driven by a desire to protect the small business owners who have gone through the rigorous and expensive I502 licensing process. This is reflected in the language of the bill, as well as in the fact that an industry group PAC with support from large VC backed I502 ventures assisted her in drafting the bill. The second is sponsored by Senator Jeane Kohl-Welles (D). This bill consists of language that facilitates the continuance and integration of the existing medical Cannabis community, but the Senator herself has said,

“Sen. Rivers is determined that her bill will pass... And I expect her bill will be the one that makes it through the process. I just hope some of the policies contained in my legislation will also prevail in that final bill.”

Medical Past

Perhaps slightly more concerning is the picture of medical dispensaries that the conversation is painting. Vicki Christophersen, executive director of WACA (Washington Cannabusiness Association, which runs the previously mentioned PAC) argues in support of Rivers bill,

“There is a fiscal argument to be made that the businesses who made significant investment to follow the rules and the whole regulatory mandate should not be forced to compete with those who chose not to do that,” Christophersen said. “It’s a fairness argument.”

While rooted in a "fiscal argument of fairness" this story tries to affirm the consequent. It attempts to imply that if there are players existing outside of the I502 regulatory framework, they must be bad players actively choosing to avoid regulation. There is no active avoiding, just a steadfast continuance of the same processes on which I502 is built. They are the processes that have existed in this state for years and fulfill the demand of those seeking to taper opiate use, battle through Chemotherapy, or cope with Multiple Sclerosis. There are players actively following what rules do exist (generating $14 million dollars in taxes in 2014) and attempting to create more. The I502 recreational framework has been built, and it is now (although a little late) time to create a safe, stable, and accessible means for patients to utilize medical Cannabis. To say that those who risked their freedom years ago rather than their current life's savings are any less entitled to partake in building the vibrant medical Cannabis market we know Washington will have is blatantly unaware.

Washington State Capitol Panorama

Unless otherwise noted this article is referencing "The Millionaire Who Wants to Control Washington’s Weed" by Bill Conroy for The Daily Beast. Read the full piece here.