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Washington Governor Vetoes Parts Of New Mmj Bill.


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Gregoire Vetoes Parts of Medical Marijuana BillPosted by CN Staff on April 29, 2011 at 15:54:58 PT

By Mike Baker, Associated Press

Source: Associated Press

 

medical.gif Olympia, Wash. -- Gov. Chris Gregoire vetoed key parts of a bill Friday that aimed to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries, saying she could not approve a measure that might put state workers at risk of federal criminal charges.

 

The state's two U.S. attorneys previously told Gregoire that state employees would not be immune from prosecution for their role in regulating the industry. Prosecutors contend that the measure would create a licensing scheme that permits large-scale marijuana cultivation and distribution. Federal law classifies marijuana as a controlled substance.

 

A union that represents thousands of state employees asked Gregoire to veto the bill.

 

"I cannot disregard federal law and our two U.S. attorneys on the chance that state employees may never be prosecuted," Gregoire said. "What do you say to them if they are? What would you tell that employee?"

 

The veto came just a day after federal authorities raided at least two dispensaries in Spokane.

 

The bill sought to address murky areas of the state's medical marijuana laws. Dispensaries have popped up all around the state since the voter-approved medical marijuana law from 1998, even though those outlets aren't specifically allowed nor forbidden in the statutes. Police and prosecutors worry that the operations could be shielding broader criminal enterprises.

 

Current state law does not allow for marijuana sales and says patients must grow it themselves or designate a caregiver to grow it for them. Proponents of the law contend that patients with terminal or debilitating conditions do not have the ability or resources to grow marijuana, so they believe retail-like access points are needed to prevent a black market for the product.

 

Gregoire did approve of parts of the bill, such as increased protections from state penalties. She also approved of cooperative grow operations. The bill allows groups of patients to collaborate on community gardens, which could have up to 99 plants. Only qualified patients would be allowed to use the marijuana grown in these gardens.

 

Gregoire said she wants to continue working with the Legislature on passing other parts of the bill, such as a pot registry that would be accessible to law enforcement.

 

Source: Associated Press (Wire)

Author: Mike Baker, Associated Press

Published: April 29, 2011

Copyright: 2011 The Associated Press

 

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