Washington Lawmakers Hear Concerns on “Gray” Market For Marijuana

By Austin Jenkins

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Card-holding medical marijuana patients would get protection from arrest under a proposal in the Washington legislature. But some industry insiders say it doesn’t go far enough. That was their message Monday at a state senate hearing.

Alison Holcomb, at right, Drug Policy Director for the ACLU of Washington.By the end of this year, the production and use of recreational marijuana in Washington will be regulated and taxed. That’s because of voter-approved Initiative 502. But medical marijuana – also voter-approved back in 1998 – is largely unregulated. That’s a recipe for a quasi-black market says Democratic State Senator Karen Keiser.

Karen Keiser: “I’m concerned, seriously concerned, that with 502 we’re going to create a ‘gray’ market, if you would, for medical marijuana which is not taxed.”

Ezra Eickmeyer with the Washington Cannabis Association agrees. He urged the Senate’s Health Care committee to bring some normalcy to the medical marijuana industry.

Ezra Eickmeyer: “It makes no sense to have the general retail shops to the public tightly regulated and having the medical industry zero regulated.”

Currently, medical marijuana providers in Washington are growing pot and selling it in dispensaries with little to no state oversight.

Photo: Alison Holcomb, at right, Drug Policy Director for the ACLU of Washington, testifies at a Senate hearing on marijuana

On the web: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?year=2013&bill=5528

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