I have a couple of other letters here addressing Senate Bill 5073. Now that it’s become law, shit is really getting weird, man. Cities and Counties across Washington State are passing moratorium on the collective gardens made legal by said bill.
I don’t know if I’m flabbergasted more by the hysteria or the ignorance.
Oh, it’s true that entrepreneurs in the northwest part of the state are quickly changing the names of their enterprises from “dispensaries” to “collectives.” How the hell that could be legal I haven’t a clue. But then, dispensaries were never legal.
Anywho… in the interest of education, I wrote a letter to the Vancouver City Council, Attorney, and Clark County Commissioners. Wanna see it? Kay.
Ted Gathe, Vancouver City Attorney 7-26-11
Vancouver City Council
PO BX 1995
Vancouver Wa. 98668
Clark County Commissioners
PO BX 5000
Vancouver, WA. 98666
RE: Collective Cannabis Garden Moratorium.
Good day. Hopefully this letter has found you well.
There appears to be some confusion surrounding the passage of E2SSB 5073. Undoubtedly a portion of this uncertainty is related to Governor Gregoire’s veto of 36 sections of the bill prior to signing. For instance, section 401 makes reference to section 901 (several sections do, actually). Section 901 had provisions for a patient registry. 901 was vetoed.
I would highly recommend each and every one of you obtain a copy of “5073” and review it yourself. I believe the two sections that are relevant to the moratorium are 403 (collective gardens) and 1102 (zoning, licensing, distribution).
Let’s just toss 1102 right out. Though planning for the possibility of licensed dispensaries in the future might be prudent they are currently illegal. 1102 speaks solely to dispensaries. Also, as you scan through 1102, you will note the descriptive collective garden does not appear in this section. 1102 is not applicable to this discussion at this time.
That leaves us with the section that seems to be of your concern: 403.
It was back in June of ’09 that I wrote to (the then Clark County Prosecuting Attorney) Art Curtis inquiring if he interpreted one qualifying patient holding a recommendation (“patient” here on) handing another patient a cannabis plant (or cannabis) as delivery and or distribution. Not surprisingly I never received a response. The answer is obvious however. Of course it is. Cannabis is a controlled substance under the CSA. An analogy might be; me handing another individual a narcotic pain-killer. Though we both have a prescription for the drug, I am not a licensed pharmacist, nor a doctor. The act would be illegal.
Cannabis is a bit different animal than prescribed medications though, isn’t it?
Section 403 is the provision that allows ten patients to support one another without fear of transportation, distribution, cultivation and/or other related charges. Contrary to popular belief cannabis isn’t hard to grow. The equipment for a small indoor grow needn’t be expensive to procure. The cost of supporting a small garden needn’t be prohibitive. Even with that said, for some, cultivation is impossible; whether it is due to their health problems, living arrangements… what-have-you.
A Designated Provider is allowed under the law, but that can prove to be a narrow avenue of support. It isn’t uncommon to have a garden “crash.” This can be from insect infestation, mistakes on the grower’s part, disease, any number of reasons. A crash can be devastating.
Let’s take a closer look at section 403.
The “presumptive” amount of plants and materials here are what would normally be afforded three patients at any one time. Please, don’t allow the number ‘10’ to induce a vision of fields of cannabis. 45 plants can easily be grown in an indoor environment. Outdoor grows only occur during the summer months. These, as well as the indoor, are kept somewhat covert. Not for fear of law enforcement, but thieves.
Allow me to introduce a hypothetic scenario here. Let’s say we have a husband and wife that are both patients and providers. Under the law, they may possess 60 plants and/or 6 pounds of material at any one time. This hypothetical grow is not subject to your regulation. Do you wonder if grows such as this are out there? I’ll leave that for you to ponder.
Nowhere in section 403 will you find the word ‘facility.’ Nowhere in 403 will you see the word ‘dispensary’ or ‘licensing.’ That is not the intention of the law. The intention is to allow a small group of patients to support one another. If you stop and give this some consideration you’ll realize that it is actually contrary to the dispensary model!
I understand that law enforcement has some concerns about unscrupulous individuals manipulating possible loopholes in the law. This happened with the previous law that read a designated provider can only have one patient at any one time. These individuals defined “time” as fifteen minutes, or less. 5073 states 15 days. Should a provider/patient relationship end, that provider may not provide for another patient for 15 days. Loophole closed.
Why not have the Clark/Skamania Task Force publish a policy revolving around their interpretation of the law? Guidelines, if you will. I know that prior to the DOH issuing their definition of a presumptive limit the Task Force had defined that as nine plants. Would it be legal to state that a member of a collective, upon leaving, cannot be replaced for 15 days? It would seem to me this would be in concert with the law’s intent.
In closing (and I don’t mean to be condescending) it sure seems to me “someone” is making a mountain out of a mole hill, here. If I may assist in clarifying any questions you may have feel free to contact me. I’m hearing impaired so email would be best. Heck, I’ll go a step further. If you would like to speak directly with a “patient” and/or take a tour of a small medicinal grow, drop me a line and we’ll set up a time.