Washington’s marijuana legalization, red flag for Medical Marijuana

washington and medical marijuanaLegalization may not be as liberating as it seems, according to Washington state medical marijuana patients. In fact, allowing the state to control cannabis may have the opposite effect.

In November, Washington state will be voting on Initiative 502 to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, and if it passes, cannabis would be produced, regulated, and sold exclusively by state-sanctioned facilities. While a large percentage of the state favors the legalization and taxation of cannabis, the medical marijuana community of Washington has spoken out against I-502 and point out some of the overlooked details that voters and lawmakers of other states should consider.

Patients are mainly concerned with new driving laws that attempt to define impairment based on the THC concentration of the driver’s blood. Initiative 502 makes it illegal to drive with a blood concentration higher than 5 ng/mL with violators facing DUI penalties. Users under the age of 21 risk these penalties if any trace of THC is found in their blood, as they are subject to new zero-tolerance policies. This figure stated in the legislative proposal has patients worried for a variety reasons.

First, medical marijuana patients who medicate frequently will easily exceed this limit as THC is traceable in the system even days after use. This leads patients to question the accuracy of this method altogether: does this figure actually define impairment? This mode of measurement fails to consider the tolerance threshold of accustomed cannabis users who may test over 5 ng/mL. Undoubtedly I-502 must consider public safety, but without an efficient way of measuring impairment, opponents fear that the initiative will simply perpetuate a long tradition of criminalizing the wrong people.

Another anxiety of patients is the increased cost of cannabis as it travels through the state tax system. The medical marijuana dispensaries can currently offer patients an ounce for roughly $200, but that amount is projected to triple after I-502 implements taxes. These costs alone create impassable obstacles for most patients.

Right now, patients are allowed to grow a limited amount of hemp themselves, but I-502 prohibits this altogether as well. That being said, patients would be forced to purchase their medication at state-sanctioned facilities rather than private dispensaries which pride themselves in their knowledge of the product and respect for medical marijuana patients. It is hard to imagine exactly how these stores will operate, but patients are skeptical about their specialized medication sold as retail beside recreational product; and ask any patient, there is a difference and that is why they pay more for medical marijuana and dispensary services now.

Advocates insist that patients will only be further protected by I-502, but fewer are buying into this claim as more details of the law circulate. With harsher penalties established for those possessing more than just one ounce of pot and new (and arguably unsound) DUI laws, opponents wonder who benefits from I-502. Whether or not these concerns are legitimate is still up to debate, but medical marijuana patients should nevertheless be informed of what they may risk in the process of legalization.

These concerns should not be confined to Washington state; all states with established medical marijuana laws should be wary of these concerns and consider them carefully when taking steps toward legalization of recreational marijuana.

See the full text of Washington I-502 for more information and details.

Bailey Rahn is a managing editor at AllTreatment.com, a Seattle-based website that provides news, information, and resources about drugs and addiction.



  1. I voted Ron Paul. I know we are not free. I know government is deceptive, evasive, controlling, and obscure. I know people are collectively downright stupid. Ron Paul as president was a no brainer for anyone with sense.

  2. Hi all,

    Want to be protected in the medical marijuana field? JOIN US AT OUR SEMINAR JUNE 23 to find out all you need to know to stay safe and legal under California law! From sales taxes on medical marijuana to how to deal with law enforcements; this seminar will guide you into the right direction to be secure and protected in the medical marijuana industry.

    Check it out and tell a friend!

  3. Hi Stoner Bob
    It seems to me that these people have no right whatsoever to either legalize or criminalize. We pay governments to serve our best interests and to speak for us as a group. They have no right telling us what medicines we can or cannot smoke. Or even what recreational drugs we might choose to take.
    I was under the impression that we were born free to do what we please to ourselves, as long as we don’t hurt other people.

  4. This doesn’t seem to have a whole lot off advantages in my eyes, you can call it a bill to legalize but it seems as though all it will do is regulate and restrict. I could come to terms with an age limit (for other than medical uses) and even some driving ant retail restrictions, other than that true legalization should allow anyone to grow marijuana as if it were tomato plants, and smoke it with with similar restrictions as tobacco. For example you would have to light up before you entered the restaurant.

Leave a Reply

Popular Forum Threads

  • How to get a medical marijuana card

    Just trying to spread the word about a sweet site that is showing people how to get a medical marijuana card in california and 13 other states.

    Read more >
  • Growing marijuana for medical marijuana patient

    I have a friend who is eligible for Medical Marijuana. He knows someone who wants to grow Marijuana and distribute it to him and other patients, I guess they are called "caregivers?" For the record they have gone to a clas to learn how to do this process. I have several questions that I need answered before Saturday.

    Read more >
  • Obtaining pot from another state

    If you live in a state (fla) that doesn't support medical weed, and if you have a card from another state, is it possible to obtain the cannabis from a state that does cater to us? Mail , ups, fed ex ?

    Read more >
  • Vaporizer Corner - Get Started

    I love my vapes. I have many, and have tried most. Each has a learning curve to it, especially the portable ones. You have to take a day to learn each.. and most new Vaporists think that they are not that crazy about their choice on the first couple of tries.

    Read more >
  • The Herbal Review

    I just got my VaporBlunt 2.0 and might have found my new love. I'm going to use it a bit more over the weekend, and hopefully make a full video review next week; after I get a better understanding/feel for the vape.

    Read more >
  • Vaporizers

    What are the types of Vaporizers available in the market?

    Read more >