Washington State’s new Cannabis Patient Protection Act, establishes a new regulatory regime for medical marijuana use. The Cannabis Patient Protection Act integrates the regulation of medical marijuana into the State’s recreational marijuana system and replaces the 1998 Medical Use of Cannabis Act.
The Cannabis Patient Protection Act allows for recreational marijuana producers and retailers, who are licensed pursuant to I502, to grow and sell medical marijuana. The State will be expanding the growing capacity of existing producer licensees and issuing additional retail licenses to meet the demand for medical marijuana. The criteria for obtaining one of the new retail licenses is discussed in a prior post.
The new law also eliminates collective gardens effective July 1, 2016. After this date, only four member collectives will be permitted for the production and processing of medical marijuana for its members. Collectives may grow a maximum of 60 plants and must be located at least one mile away from any marijuana retailer.
Importantly, the new act establishes a medical marijuana authorization database. Medical marijuana patients who do not sign up for the database are limited to growing four plants and possessing six ounces of marijuana for their own use. Patients who sign up for the database may grow up to 15 plants and purchase three times the amount of marijuana allowed to be possessed by a recreational user.
Beginning July 1, 2016, healthcare professionals who authorize medical marijuana use for their patients, must use a form to be developed by the State. The form will include patient information, which must be entered into the authorization database. Patients and health care providers who are entered into the database are protected from arrest.
Use of a medical database has been controversial in Washington as it raises many privacy concerns. The hope is however, that by regulating both medical and recreational marijuana under the same system, the legal marijuana market will be able to overtake the black market.
For more information on the regulation of recreational and medical marijuana businesses in in Washington State, please contact Heather Wolf.