SPOKANE, Wash.--The State Senate passed a bill that would make sweeping changes to Washington’s marijuana laws at the beginning of March. The bill would merge the state’s medical aid and recreational marijuana regulations.
The bill also creates a marijuana registry and would require users to have an authorization card. The bill concerns people at medical marijuana dispensaries.
The medical marijuana community is worried the changes will group together two separate aspects of cannabis that they said need to be treated different by state regulators.
Dispensaries providing marijuana in Washington State said new changes to the Liquor Control Board would hurt their clients.
“In no way is this going to help our patients, by combining recreation with medical cannabis,” said Jennifer Lorz with Northside Alternative Wellness Center.
Staff at Lorz’ center think the new rules would make it harder for their patients to get the marijuana they need.
"We really feel that these new bills are pushing our patients to the black market and it's going to continue to go that way if these bills continue to pass,” said Lorz.
The new rules outlined what would limit how many plants a patient can have. It would also let patients use retail stores and not pay taxes.
Those working at dispensaries said retail staff would not know enough about what medical customers need and will not be able to talk about the benefits of the drug.
“It is not just putting a seed in the ground and having a plant grow and wow, there's marijuana,” said Lorz.
There is an online petition to encourage lawmakers to keep regulations for recreational and medical pot separate.
Both the State Senate and House have passed bills calling for regulators to merge medical and recreational marijuana. They will decide what to keep from both bills and send it to the governor.