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Marijuana Advocate Group Claims State Stores Will Force Medical Users to Black Market

Medical Marijuana
(Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)

The Cannabis Coalition of Washington state has sent a strongly-worded letter to the state Liquor Control Board and legislators warning that recent policy plans and recommendations for implementing legalized marijuana will ultimately force medical marijuana patients to the black market.

The Coalition is concerned also that the recent opinion by Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson that allows cities and counties to ban pot stores inside their boundaries will also create further hardship for patients.

The Liquor Control Board, who are charged with setting up and running the state store system, have made it clear, says the Coalition, that medical marijuana patients will eventually be brought under the jurisdiction of the state store system.   According to the Coalition:

“The Liquor Control Board has already stated that several medications currently used by patients to treat serious medical conditions like cancer and seizure disorders will not be available in the recreational marijuana stores. Under the proposed legislation, patients will be forced to illegally manufacture their own medication or purchase it from those who are willing to violate the state law to provide it to them.
The current price of medication in Washington is approximately $180-$225 per ounce. We have recently seen the price of medication in Colorado rise to $500 an ounce with only a 15% excise tax. This is more than twice the price of medical cannabis here in Washington. With the new excise taxes on recreational cannabis in the I-502 stores at 35%-60% higher than those of Colorado, prices here could easily top $700 per ounce. That’s more than 3 times the price patients are currently paying for their medication. This will give patients no choice but to go back to the black market or go without medication.”
According to the Coalition, some 45% of the medical marijuana patients in Washington live at or below the poverty line.  Many of them depend upon low-cost medications that will no longer be available once the state stores begin operation.  These medicines are not covered by any insurance, and no provisions have been made to provide them for legitimate medical marijuana patients once the stores open.  They say these are yet another set of unintended consequences from a poorly planned and implemented program.
 Of the 19 states that allow medical marijuana, Washington state has by far the highest number of patients who utilize it, just over 99,000, just behind California.
 Medical marijuana advocates are saying their warnings about the flaws in I-502 are now beginning to be seen, and the state has not done anything to address these issues.  They accuse the state and Liquor Control Board of approaching legal pot from strictly the standpoint of how much revenue it can generate for the state.

 

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