Clarifying The Rules
SPOKANE -- The Washington State Legislature wants the Health
Department to clarify the rules surrounding the use of medical
marijuana. In 1998, voters approved an initiative allowing doctors to
legally recommend marijuana for some medical conditions.
The state allows patients who have doctor's permission to possess a
sixty day supply of medical marijuana but there's no definition of
much a sixty day supply is. The State Department of Health is now
holding public meetings across the state to determine a definition but
it hasn't been easy.
In a passionate plea Steve Sarich joined dozens of others at Spokane
Community College urging the State Department of Health not to define
a two month supply of medical marijuana. Sarich says to calm his aches
and pains he's turned to marijuana after becoming nearly addicted to
prescription pain killers. He believes the barriers place by his
doctor are enough.
"My doctor puts down how much marijuana I can have for a sixty day
period, why should the Department of Health do that?" said Steve
Blake Maresh with the State Department of Health says while patients
may not like it, without one will make it hard for authorities to know
who's following the law. After holding public hearings, Maresh says
clarity will be hard to provide.
"We really got a wide range of answers, from a few ounces to several
pounds," Blake Maresh said.
Maresh has also heard a variety of ways patients are ingesting
marijuana and what ailments they're using it for. He believes specific
uses for specific problems might have to be spelled out in the new
law. This might only create more confusion for those trying to monitor
Sarich believes it's all a waste of time and thinks lawmakers should
shift their focus to other pain killers.
"I was almost addicted to prescription narcotics, that's the biggest
drug problem in our country right now," Sarich said.
The Department of Health is also looking into safe and effective ways
to distribute medical marijuana. Many patients are forced to buy it
off the black market right now and pay at a premium. The department
plans to present its findings to the state legislature next summer.