This Washington

Afternoon Fizz: A Brand New Medical Pot Bill

By Josh Feit May 13, 2011

Drug reform point person Rep. Roger Goodman (D-45, Kirkland) tells PubliCola late this afternoon that he'll be formally introducing an alternative to Sen. Jean Kohl-Welles' (D-36, Ballard) medical marijuana bill.

While drug reformers, including the folks at the ACLU, are supporting Kohl-Welles' version, they're doing so reluctantly because her last-minute fixes (her first version was vetoed by Gov. Chris Gregoire) didn't provide broad arrest protection because she stuck with a state registry. If patients weren't on the state registry cops could arrest you first and ask questions later). Under Kohl-Welles' version, non-registered patients' rights would have reverted to "affirmative defense," meaning they could make a legit case after being arrested.

Goodman's bill would not have a state registry, would guarantee arrest protection, and, like Kohl-Welles' new version, would rely on local dispensaries, non-profit collectives, and community gardens to grow the marijuana; so, no state liability—which is what troubled Gregoire.

Goodman says the arrest protection would come from just displaying a medical marijuana card, which patients get from their doctors not by registering with state. "Why should there be a registry?" Goodman asks. "Why should law enforcement have access to marijuana users?"

Goodman, who says he spoke to Kohl-Welles and she told him to go for it, has zero intention of working the bill in the special session, but wants to introduce it "now to take advantage of the momentum ... there is so much interest in this right now."
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