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Fix this: Sharing marijuana with your sweetheart is felony distribution
    #766543 - 01/20/15 11:41 AM (1 year, 8 months ago)

Say you’re having a real nice night with your sweetheart and decide to delve into a little bit of legal weed. You and your pal are in bed and you light up (joint or bowl or vape or maybe a nibble of an edible) … well, you better not pass your stuff to her/him cuz in Washington state that’s felony distribution.

Possession with the intent to pass the joint/bong/edible to even your legally married significant other is 5 years in jail and $10,000, on top of lawyer fees and disqualification from pretty much all federal programs as well as good luck getting a job.

Well, you say, no one would bust into my bedroom and arrest me!

Yeah (or at least “probably”), and that’s the point.

Having that law on the books in Washington is insulting and worse than nonsense. It’s the kind of law we scoff at and that undermines our respect for the law and police. As lawyers say: It’s not a good thing in theory to have felony laws if you intend for the transgression to happen. You want to legalize the things you want to be legal and not rely non-enforcement of laws in the long term.

… and remember that classic scene from Saturday Night Live?

Remember also that I-502 only made legal the production, sale and possession of marijuana in a very thin slice of the law. It does not change Washington’s drug laws, it only adds this thin vein of legality. They are in full effect, in theory.

Changes required

And we’re in luck because the Washington State Legislature is in session! Yay. So, your representatives can fix this absurdity. But will they?

So far, the heavy hitters when it comes to changing marijuana laws in Washington are trying to figure out how to collapse the wild and woolly medical marijuana market. Sen. Ann Rivers (R-La Center) has a bill on the floor that would not deal with either the need for home-growing nor sharing legal weed.

Rivers’ bill does create a new bureaucracy for licensing growers and sellers of medical marijuana that would close the “loophole” allowing medical collectives to sell cannabis out of storefronts.

As the Associated Press put it:

(Her bill) would create stand-alone medical marijuana dispensaries that can’t sell dried marijuana — just edibles and concentrates, like hash oil — on the theory that smoking marijuana is bad for sick people. It would require testing that’s at least as strict as that for recreational pot.

Among its other tenets: that “collective gardens” of marijuana patients need to be severely curtailed; that there needs to be a registry of medical marijuana patients and providers; and that the Department of Health should determine the strength of products sold in medical shops.

Now, she has her points for sure:

“If you were to overlay the (medical marijuana) initiative as we passed it 14 years ago, you wouldn’t even recognize this as the same system. It has become something completely unweildly and not at all what the people voted on,” she told us. “It’s just not at all what people had in mind … and with the authorization being so easy to get. This is not to minimize the true patient. I absolutely believe that there is a medical component, and I would never what anyone to believe that I don’t.”

And about the “no-flower” rule?

“So here’s the reality, if we’re going to say that cannabis is medicine, and I’m a firm believer that it is medicine, then I think that we have to treat it just like medicine. And try as I might, I can’t find another medicine that we smoke, that introduces carcinogens and foreign debris into our lungs.”

But but but … Anyway, she has a point.

She draws the line at homegrown and sharing, however, because …

“I’ve always said that we’re going to have to be especially vigilant to keep this out of the hands kids. And if you’ve got six plants, many of which are six foot or taller that are prolific producers, it is impossible to go through that much pot. So what’s going to happen: You get a 21 year old who’s got younger friends, you think he’s going to say, ‘No, it’s against the law. I can’t share with you’?”

She adds: “I think it’s probably pretty easy to get anyway, but I’m not going to do anything that’s going to make it easier.”

Now for the other heavy hitter

Democratic Seattle Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles has shepherded another major marijuana law through to the bitter end of passage only to have it gutted by the governor’s veto. She will be announcing her new bill for reforming marijuana on Tuesday (tomorrow or today, depending on when you see this).

She will “introduce legislation that would align the currently unregulated medical marijuana system and that of the regulated recreational marijuana system. In addition to addressing the two conflicting systems, the bill contains special provisions for patient access, patient safety and law enforcement efficiency, and streamlines the newly enacted I-502 system,” her news release states. (See below for details on the event.)

We’ve covered the basics of the bill in our story: How to fix medical marijuana in Washington with one simple bill

For this story, the punch line is that Kohl-Welles bill does allow for homegrown and sharing up to an ounce. As a baseline for keeping our marijuana laws on the progressive track, that’s a solid baseline.

Change is a comin’

Now the devil is in the details. But it is pretty much guaranteed that marijuana laws in Washington are going to change soon.

“It’s going to be a big year for anything marijuana,” Rivers said. “There’s so much tweaking to do …  you name it we have a bill for it. There will be no shortage of marijuana bills.”

So, at the very least the Legislature can do is end the absurd law making sharing any amount with anyone a felony. (Note: Sharing with kids will always be and should always be a crime, unless for medical reasons. So, even if that 21 year old wants to give to friends, the legal price is high … and ought to be as illegal as sharing alcohol with minors.)


Signature this, ho.

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