A couple of notes: I never got a response. In all fairness to the prosecutor a response would not have been in his best interest regardless of his take. He’s left the door open to prosecute as the situation warrants. Further, for one patient to hand another cannabis must be construed as delivery due to the federal classification of cannabis as a schedule I drug. Washington’s medical marijuana law merely allows an affirmative defense as a medical need in the event of arrest. All authorized patients in Washington are engaging in an illegal act.
Also, the dispensary (slash) co-op I mentioned has not opened as of this writing. The letter below was written last June. The last time I checked it appeared that the effort had stalled.
SUBJECT: Medical Marijuana Patients
I am writing in response to a recent third-party conversation I’ve had with a Vancouver Police Officer. I had asked the legality of one qualifying patient handing another a marijuana plant and or marijuana. I understand the officer conferred with the Prosecuting Attorney’s office. The response I received was your office interprets that activity as delivery of a controlled substance. An illegal act. I am asking that you reconsider on the following grounds.
The Washington State medical marijuana laws have no provision on how a patient may obtain marijuana or marijuana plants. There is a provision for a Designated Provider but that merely takes us up the ladder one rung. There is no provision on how the provider obtains plants.
(Other than my qualifying patient status the following is anecdotal. I haven’t any knowledge of times, places or the individuals that have attended.)
I’m part of a loose knit community of qualifying patients in Clark County. I’ve heard that in the past there have been social “get-togethers.” Only documented patients, providers and immediate family are allowed to attend. At these gatherings it is typical for patients to bring clippings, slips, rooted plants and marijuana to be given away. Though I know “delivery” isn’t dependent upon money changing hands it’s my understanding that these were given, not sold.
(Anecdotal paragraph ends)
I was considering hosting such an event myself until I queried the officer. A conviction and jail time being a deterrent. I feel this deterrent is detrimental to the Clark County medical marijuana community. Allow me to explain.
In general, the community wishes to keep the black market at arm’s length. And, of course, purchasing marijuana or plants from the black market is illegal. There’s a feeling of isolation among us. We have only ourselves for support.
Many people who aren’t familiar with the intricacies of medical marijuana are not aware that one plant is not necessarily like the other. Different strains and harvest times have different effects on the patient. Some plants offer relief for insomnia, others for nausea or pain, etc. Many patients have experimented for several years with different varieties until they’ve found what works best for their particular malady. These social gatherings give people the opportunity to test different plants for their effectiveness. Further, it gives them the option of obtaining the plants for their own garden.
Newly qualified patients often find they haven’t the resources to obtain plants for themselves. They simply don’t know where to get plants, what plants and how to grow them once they do. The community is a wealth of knowledge on growing techniques and problem solving. Also, I believe obtaining plants from other patients is a safer method then whatever may be available “on the street.”
A catastrophic event can easily wipe out an individual’s grow. If we are allowed to support one another we would be able to replace the loss without venturing outside the community and at no cost to the fellow patient.
I’m not asking for an increase in the existing limits under the law. I’m not asking your office to condone a free for all. I’m asking for compassion. If we are allowed to, we can support ourselves.
I don’t wish to appear argumentative, however the following has me curious. I understand that Clark County law enforcement has given the go-ahead to a business that plans to open a dispensary or co-op. On the face of it I find that encouraging. It leads me to believe Clark County has become aware of the usefulness of marijuana as a medicine. Though most of us are self-sufficient I’m sure this business will provide a service for many.
What I’m curious about is how this business has managed to sway law enforcement when it is blatantly illegal. More so, in my opinion, than patients helping patients. We aren’t interested in helping one another for money. We want to help one another simply because we care.
I don’t understand how this business can have a store front but we would put ourselves at risk of prosecution for handing one another a plant. To me the business appears more a violation of the patient\caregiver law then what it is I’m asking you to allow.
In closing, once again I’ll ask that you reconsider your stance in this matter.