Category Archives: Bloggers Corner

Mid-Session Update on Bill 5052 (Rivers Bill)…With House Email List

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Well, we’re officially half-way through the legislative session, but still fighting to save medical cannabis until the gavel finally falls. Last week, the People for Medical Cannabis gathered at the capitol with other patients & supporters for Medical Cannabis Day of Unity on March 5th. Many attended the House public hearing to speak against bill 5052 but were disappointingly restricted by time limits & an obvious preference of speakers chosen by the powers-that-be. It’s no secret that Representative Eileen Cody, who is Chair of the House Committee on Health Care & Wellness (who held the hearing), has a grudge against patients & does not have our best interests in mind. Senator Ann Rivers, sponsor of bill 5052 and lapdog of the recreational canna-business lobbyists, has a lot of nerve calling this the “Cannabis Patient Protection Act”, given that it would destroy the voter-approved rights patients have had for 17 years. It’s utterly frustrating to feel ignored every way I turn and see those with ulterior motives misrepresent what is best for the poorest, sickest patients who can’t afford a trail of lobbyists.

After the hearing, many gathered to pull their district legislators off the House floor to speak with them. Some were successful and others set up future meetings. It’s essential to educate our legislators about the specifics of how bill 5052 would affect us as patients, caregivers, and providers. They must know your needs in order to represent them. It can feel vulnerable to talk to a politician about something so private and important to you, but they really need to make that personal connection to understand the potential impact of their decisions as lawmakers.

At this point, bill 5052 passed the Senate by a large majority and awaits decisions from the House. It is scheduled for an executive session this Friday, March 13th at 10AM. The public can’t participate but can view it in person or on The House may decide on possible amendments and publish a substitute bill with the changes. However, unless there is a striker amendment that deletes everything in the bill and replaces it with, say… bills 1020 or 2058 (a miracle), there is no amount of amending that will make 5052 acceptable for the medical cannabis community. It will probably be referred to another committee next week and possibly a floor vote. So, if you haven’t yet written to your House Representatives about this, DO IT NOW or you may lose your chance and your rights.

If 5052 passes, it would:
– Reduce the current 60-day supply to a 1-week supply.
– Decrease allowed plant count from 15 to 6.
– Require a statewide registry for patients and designated providers accessible by law enforcement. Registries in other states have proven to be a risk for privacy breaches and federal subpoenas.
– Eliminate affirmative defense in court.
– Close medical dispensaries and farmers markets.
– Force patients into the overpriced (2-4 times higher in cost), less accessible, unsuitable recreational stores.
– Forbid patients from processing their plants into any type of extract or infusion (includes kief, bubble hash, cooking oil/butter, etc).
– Permit home inspections of private gardens by law enforcement.
– Forbid small, residential, patient co-op grows (of just 4 patients) within a 15-mile radius of a recreational store.
– Restrict authorizations and interfere with doctor/patient relationship.

WA House Representative Email List:
Name, E-mail, District, Position, Party

Rep. Sherry Appleton-, District 23, 1, D
Rep. Steve Bergquist-, District 11, 2, D
Rep. Brian Blake-, District 19, 2, D
Rep. Vincent Buys-, District 42, 2, R
Rep. Michelle Caldier-, District 26, 2, R
Rep. Reuven Carlyle-, District 36, 1, D
Rep. Bruce Chandler-, District 15, 1, R
Rep. Frank Chopp-, District 43, 2, D
Rep. Judy Clibborn-, District 41, 2, D
Rep. Eileen Cody-, District 34, 1, D
Rep. Cary Condotta-, District 12, 1, R
Rep. Richard DeBolt-, District 20, 1, R
Rep. Tom Dent-, District 13, 1, R
Rep. Hans Dunshee-, District 44, 1, D
Rep. Susan Fagan-, District 9, 1, R
Rep. Jessyn Farrell-, District 46, 2, D
Rep. Jake Fey-, District 27, 2, D
Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon-, District 34, 2, D
Rep. Roger Goodman-, District 45, 1, D
Rep. Mia Gregerson-, District 33, 2, D
Rep. Carol Gregory-, District 30, 2, D
Rep. Dan Griffey-, District 35, 1, R
Rep. Larry Haler-, District 8, 2, R
Rep. Drew Hansen-, District 23, 2, D
Rep. Mark Hargrove-, District 47, 1, R
Rep. Mark Harmsworth-, District 44, 2, R
Rep. Paul Harris-, District 17, 2, R
Rep. Brad Hawkins-, District 12, 2, R
Rep. Dave Hayes-, District 10, 2, R
Rep. Jeff Holy-, District 6, 2, R
Rep. Zack Hudgins-, District 11, 1, D
Rep. Graham Hunt-, District 2, 1, R
Rep. Sam Hunt-, District 22, 2, D
Rep. Ross Hunter-, District 48, 1, D
Rep. Christopher Hurst-, District 31, 2, D
Rep. Laurie Jinkins-, District 27, 1, D
Rep. Norm Johnson-, District 14, 1, R
Rep. Ruth Kagi-, District 32, 2, D
Rep. Christine Kilduff-, District 28, 2, D
Rep. Steve Kirby-, District 29, 2, D
Rep. Brad Klippert-, District 8, 1, R
Rep. Linda Kochmar-, District 30, 1, R
Rep. Joel Kretz-, District 7, 2, R
Rep. Dan Kristiansen-, District 39, 1, R
Rep. Kristine Lytton-, District 40, 1, D
Rep. Drew MacEwen-, District 35, 2, R
Rep. Chad Magendanz-, District 5, 2, R
Rep. Matt Manweller-, District 13, 2, R
Rep. Joan McBride-, District 48, 2, D
Rep. Gina McCabe-, District 14, 2, R
Rep. Bob McCaslin-, District 4, 1, R
Rep. Jim Moeller-, District 49, 2, D
Rep. Jeff Morris-, District 40, 2, D
Rep. Luis Moscoso-, District 1, 2, D
Rep. Dick Muri-, District 28, 1, R
Rep. Terry Nealey-, District 16, 2, R
Rep. Ed Orcutt-, District 20, 2, R
Rep. Timm Ormsby-, District 3, 2, D
Rep. Lillian Ortiz-Self-, District 21, 2, D
Rep. Tina Orwall-, District 33, 1, D
Rep. Kevin Parker-, District 6, 1, R
Rep. Strom Peterson-, District 21, 1, D
Rep. Eric Pettigrew-, District 37, 2, D
Rep. Liz Pike-, District 18, 2, R
Rep. Gerry Pollet-, District 46, 1, D
Rep. Chris Reykdal-, District 22, 1, D
Rep. Marcus Riccelli-, District 3, 1, D
Rep. June Robinson-, District 38, 1, D
Rep. Jay Rodne-, District 5, 1, R
Rep. Cindy Ryu-, District 32, 1, D
Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos-, District 37, 1, D
Rep. David Sawyer-, District 29, 1, D
Rep. Joe Schmick-, District 9, 2, R
Rep. Elizabeth Scott-, District 39, 2, R
Rep. Mike Sells-, District 38, 2, D
Rep. Tana Senn-, District 41, 1, D
Rep. Matt Shea0-, District 4, 2, R
Rep. Shelly Short-, District 7, 1, R
Rep. Norma Smith-, District 10, 1, R
Rep. Larry Springer-, District 45, 2, D
Rep. Melanie Stambaugh-, District 25, 1, R
Rep. Derek Stanford-, District 1, 1, D
Rep. Drew Stokesbary-, District 31, 1, R
Rep. Pat Sullivan-, District 47, 2, D
Rep. Dean Takko-, District 19, 1, D
Rep. Gael Tarleton-, District 36, 2, D
Rep. David Taylor-, District 15, 2, R
Rep. Steve Tharinger-, District 24, 2, D
Rep. Kevin Van De Wege-, District 24, 1, D
Rep. Luanne Van Werven-, District 42, 1, R
Rep. Brandon Vick-, District 18, 1, R
Rep. Brady Walkinshaw-, District 43, 1, D
Rep. Maureen Walsh-, District 16, 1, R
Rep. J.T. Wilcox-, District 2, 2, R
Rep. Lynda Wilson-, District 17, 1, R
Rep. Sharon Wylie-, District 49, 1, D
Rep. Jesse Young-, District 26, 1, R
Rep. Hans Zeiger-, District 25, 2, R

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Public Hearing 5052 Tips on Testifying & Talking Points

Tips on Testifying and Talking Points

Your testimony: Direct your comments to the bill and the policy, and why a certain section will prevent you from getting the medicine you need. The talking points can help guide your testimony, use them as a frame. Choose your talking point, tie in your personal story, and urge legislators to vote against 5052 in its current form. You will only have one or two minutes to speak, if chosen. Sign-up at least 30 minutes before the hearing to speak (sign-up sheets on tables outside hearing room).

Print out your comments: Having your comments on paper will help you get your message across in the allotted time.  If possible, please bring 15 copies (or more) of your comments for committee members (and enough for your own legislators, if you’d like.) That way, no matter how long you get to speak, the legislators all get your feedback and it’s in the record.

Suggested dress: Please wear clothes that make you feel comfortable and confident, and are also appropriate for the occasion.  Business suits, military uniforms, or nice casual attire are suitable. The goal is to have legislators focus on what you say and what you want them to do; not on what you’re wearing.

Please do not obviously medicate on the capitol campus.


Reduces 60-day supply to 1 week

  • Medical cannabis is a maintenance medication that allows those with chronic illnesses to be productive in daily life. Patients should be able to hold the same legal supply as those taking other maintenance prescriptions for a chronic condition (for example, thyroid medications, heart medications, statins for cholesterol control, anti-depressants, etc.)
  • Medical cannabis patients typically require larger quantities to remain symptom-free (500-1000mg per day). Patients would need to return to dispensaries more often to refill prescriptions.
  • Many medical cannabis patients have debilitating illnesses and have difficulty getting to the dispensary more often than once per month.
  • Medical patients located in rural parts of the state, not close to a medical dispensary, would need to travel long distances 4 times per month or more to replenish their medication to stay healthy.

Eliminates affirmative defense provisions

  • Affirmative defense is the basis for Washington’s medical cannabis protections, a key provision of the 1998 voter initiative.
  • Affirmative defense provisions, which allow a medical cannabis patient or caregiver charged with a cannabis-related crime to explain the circumstances to a jury, must be maintained to protect patients’ rights.
  • Medical patients who need exceptional quantities of cannabis and a variety of products to stay symptom-free should be protected and allowed to explain their medical need to a jury.
  • Prosecuting medical cannabis patients needlessly costs taxpayers money.

Establishes mandatory patient registry

  • A registry would compromise the privacy of patients and potentially expose them to federal prosecution.
  • Any intrusion into patient privacy will result in a chilling effect that will cause fewer medical providers to recommend medical cannabis and will result in fewer patients feeling comfortable accessing their medication.
  • A patient registry creates unnecessary work for the state, which will ultimately be passed on to the dispensaries and patients in the form of fees and taxes.
  • If any registry is adopted by the state, it should be built on the foundation of affirmative defense, which will allow it to be voluntary and let adults make an informed choice about signing up.

Creates inequitable taxation of medicine

  • No other doctor-recommended medication is subject to an excise tax. It is unfair to ask patients of medicinal cannabis patients to pay a very large excise tax.
  • Extreme taxation of medical cannabis creates a perverse incentive for medical patients to seek alternative solutions, such as black market marijuana, or dangerous and addictive opioids.
  • The excise tax that is charged on recreational marijuana is designed to increase prices so that fewer people use recreational drugs. However, the state has no interest in discouraging the sanctioned use of medicinal cannabis. It is in the state’s best interest that people who would benefit from medical cannabis are able to access it, so that they can lead productive lives.

Pushes Safe, Affordable Access into Flawed System Not Suited for Patients

  • The solution that makes sense for Washington and for patients is a clear pathway for state-licensed and regulated medical cannabis production, processing, and retail.
  • Medical cannabis patients are trying to get healthy and be productive citizens. Levying taxes on their medication is prohibitive, especially because health insurance doesn’t cover these costs.
  • The spirit of 502 wasn’t to make lives harder for qualifying medical cannabis patients. Medical cannabis is not a recreational drug, and it is not intended to generate revenue. We should create structures that take into account that medical cannabis is a special class in itself.
  • Wouldn’t it be a shame if we have to harm medical cannabis patients in order to make 502 work better?

Interferes with Doctor-Patient Relationship:

  • Physicians must have the right to exercise their trained judgment and should not feel restricted in recommending medical cannabis to any patient who they feel might benefit from it.
  • Use of medical cannabis should not be the sole factor to disqualify patients from receiving an organ transplant. Requiring physicians to note medical cannabis use in electronic medical records could put a patient’s ability to receive a transplant at risk.
  • Requiring physician appointments to take place at a doctor’s office could prevent non-ambulatory patients from receiving care.
  • Voiding existing recommendations and requiring new patient authorizations will create an annual bottleneck and place an annual burden on both patients and physicians.
  • Artificially limiting the pool of qualifying doctors and forcing patients to renew at the same time each year creates needless burdens and barriers without clear community benefit.

Precludes Operation of Private Patient Cooperatives

  • A ban on private patient cooperatives cuts off access to needed medicines for those with limited mobility or resources. This would impact people who need medical cannabis in remote areas, especially considering that 17.8% of people live in poverty in rural areas, compared to 13.7% for metro Washington.[1]
  • Many of the ban’s elements don’t take into account the type of patient who participates in a cooperative. These are people who are too sick to grow for themselves, or lack transportation options, or live outside of areas with stores, or whose incomes are too tight.
  • Permitting home inspections of private patient cooperative gardens by Liquor Control Board and law enforcement is a constitutional violation of unwarranted search and seizure.
  • Cooperative cultivation increases efficiency and affordability and reduces risk. The typical cooperative has six patients pooling their resources and centering cultivation at one member’s house, who provides daily plant maintenance. It can actually reduce the number of grows across the state.



[1] USDA Economic Research Service

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Hope for Patients in the House- An Update from Meeting w/ Legislators

We met with several legislators yesterday and were told that THERE IS STILL HOPE for medical cannabis patients in the House and even cut-off dates don’t guarantee that a bill is truly dead, since the medical cannabis overhaul bills would affect the budget. THE FIGHT ISN’T OVER UNTIL THE SESSION IS OVER, and we have legislators on our side against the Rivers bill, 5052.

What you can do:
Email your District Representatives and ask them NOT to pass 5052. Politely tell them specifically what you don’t like about it, and how that would affect you personally as a patient. We want them to KILL THIS BILL but they also may try to amend the hell out of it, so give your input!

Also, ask your Representatives to support 2058, which originated from 5073 (which passed in 2011 but was partially vetoed by Gov. Gregoire). It’s not perfect but may be workable and is much better than 5052. Even though it will miss the hearing cut-off date, tell your Reps. what you like about it. Nothing is dead until the session is dead and it gives them something to refer to as a better option or for possible amendments to 5052.

I feel much more positive after today’s meetings that there are legislators who care about helping our cause and defeating Rivers. But that doesn’t mean the work is done! PLEASE contact your House Representatives!


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HB 2058 New Bipartisan Bill Returns Former Favored Bill (5073) That Passed But Was Vetoed

HB 2058 is a new bill that revives the old SB 5073, which passed both the Senate & House in 2011 but was mostly vetoed by Gregoire. I and a few other patients met with Rep. Appleton (co-sponsor) this week and she said that this bill is their best try this session to push back against 5052 (and MUCH better, in my opinion). It has a good start by having bi-partisan support in both chambers.

HB 2058 would: Maintain current patient possession amount & plant count, allow current dispensaries to get licensed & stay in business, maintain current authorization type on tamper-resistant paper, No Liquor Control Board (producers & processors licensed through Dept. of Ag, dispensaries through Dept. of Health), “unrelieved by standard treatments or medications” removed from condition qualification, give patients protection from housing discrimination, give patients seizure & forfeiture protection, etc.

Don’t freak out: It has a VOLUNTARY patient registry. The legislators say that a voluntary one is as good as we’ll get without being folded into the 502 system. As it’s currently written & as I’ve been told, patients who DON’T register would still get the same protections & rights they do now (affirmative defense). Patients who DO register would get arrest protection (but only if law enforcement needs to verify you during business hours of the Dept. of Health- LOL). So it’s really a technicality that makes legislators happy. I’d be extremely careful to watch amendments so it doesn’t become something else though.

So…read it over and let the sponsors know your input & questions ASAP.

PS) One bad thing about this bill is it would prohibit farmers’ markets and free donations from growers/dispensers (compassion clubs) Patients need to tell the sponsors how important they are, particularly to low-income disabled patients.


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SB 5052 Testimony to Ways & Means Committee

This is a copy of my testimony for the Ways & Means Committee regarding Senate Bill 5052 (Sub.). They’re specifically interested in the financial aspects of the bill, so my testimony is mostly from analyzing its fiscal note. I emailed a copy of this to each member of the committee. I’m sharing so that you may refer to these fiscal problems when you write or speak to the legislators (in your own words- please don’t copy & paste because legislators ignore form letters). The state has huge budget troubles this year & this bill is too expensive & risky. If patients don’t comply, the state will fall short in millions. If the committee passes this, it will go to the Senate Floor for a vote in the next week or two. NOW is the time to tell them (the Ways & Means Committee & your reps.) the financial problems with this bill and why patients and WA can’t afford SB 5052!

Senate Bill 5052 Way and Means Committee Testimony

I have been an authorized medical cannabis patient since 2006 for qualifying conditions related to a genetic disorder. I rely on Social Security Disability income and my only financial interest in the cannabis industry is the cost of my medicine. I spoke in opposition to SB 5052 at the public hearing before the Ways and Means Committee and submit this additional written testimony. I’m no fiscal expert but this bill has some obvious problems, as follows:

1. SB 5052 would close approximately 1100 successful businesses (over 300 in Seattle alone, est. 1100 statewide according to fiscal note), most of which do have business licenses and pay taxes. The Department of Revenue recorded $14 million in taxes paid last year by medical dispensaries. Their closure would mean the loss of revenue in commercial rentals and other overhead costs as well as thousands of workers unemployed.

2. At least 40 cities and 3 counties have banned cannabis businesses and approximately 80 cities have moratoriums in place against new ones. Approximately 40% of WA cities are prohibiting the cannabis industry against the will of the majority of voters who approved legalization. The State Superior Court has ruled several times in agreement with the State Attorney General, who has stated that I-502 rules do not override local jurisdictions. This issue is pending appeal to the State Supreme Court. These bans and moratoriums cause a serious lack of access & revenue and are an obstacle that must be resolved in order for the existing system to succeed and proposed changes of SB 5052 to be implemented.

3. A new section added to SB 5052 (Sec. 32) would prohibit patients from producing their own extracts from the cannabis plant. While butane oil explosions have made the news and are an unnecessary hazard, it is not the only or standard method used by most patients for extraction. There are multiple types of extraction that are not dangerous but would be prohibited by this bill, including: simply shaking the trichomes (resin “crystals”) from the flowers to form keif powder, using iced-water, agitation, and filtration to make hash, using glycerin or liquor to make tincture or extract oil from the flowers, or infusing cooking oils or foods or making topical applications. Utilizing the entire plant (including so-called waste) is a logical and regular part of the harvesting process and patients need to be able to create various products specific to their condition and manners of medicating. Extracts and infused products are the most potent form and essential to patients but are also the most expensive products to obtain. The sickest patients require large amounts of extract in a daily regimen that is extremely cost-prohibitive. In addition, the recreational system does not currently produce or sell the products that patients require and are accustomed to. Because of all the above reasons, prohibiting patients from fully processing their plants or obtained cannabis into extracts or infusions is an unrealistic regulation that will discourage compliance, stimulate the illegal market, and prevent revenue.

4. There are inconsistencies in the Agency Fiscal Reports for this bill. The Attorney General’s Office assumes that the Liquor Control Board will issue 3000 medical marijuana retail licenses within the first two fiscal years of enactment. However, the LCB report anticipates just 110 total retail licenses will be issued. Meanwhile, the Office of Administrative Judges has no estimate of possible future licenses and thus is unable to estimate cost to the agency but assumes it will be high.

5. The Liquor Control Board fiscal report estimates cash receipts to be just 28% of the amount of expenditures for 2015-17. This is estimated to slowly improve through 2021 but only if the new changes meet projected expectations.
a. The LCB plans on hiring just one additional Liquor Enforcement Officer for the additional workload of all the new licensees. Most field tasks would fall to just one officer per task. One officer each for inspections, premise & compliance checks, and new licensee support seems a low estimate that would slow implementation and lack efficiency.
b. Multiple plaintiffs have filed lawsuits against the LCB regarding the recreational marijuana system (I-502). A Thurston Co. Superior Court judge ruled last fall that they violated the Open Public Meetings Act seventeen times while forming the rules for the 502 system. The LCB recently settled a suit related to those violations for nearly $200,000, with a condition that the plaintiff cannot pursue future legal action against them pertaining to the regulation of cannabis. Several cannabis license applicants and investors have filed suits regarding denials and rules conflicts. The Liquor Control Board faces an uncertain future and should not be entrusted with additional responsibility of overseeing a new medical cannabis system.

6. The Department of Health estimates no cash receipts under this bill until 2017, while expenditures are estimated at $2.4 million from the State General Fund because there is no funding currently allotted from the Dedicated Marijuana Account. The total estimate is actually $3 million through 2017, plus ongoing expenditures of $1.2 million biennially through 2021, and they hope to fund the remainder from future profits. Most of the department’s costs are related to the licensee and patient registries. Medical cannabis patients overwhelmingly oppose a registry due to the risk of privacy breaches and federal subpoenas, which have occurred with other state’s registries. The DOH’s only current plan for future funding is through fees yet to be determined.
a. A new section added to Substitute SB 5052 (Sec. 41) directs the DOH to determine training standards and rules to establish a medical marijuana consultant certification program. This was not included in the fiscal note and would require additional funding.

7. The Department of Revenue fiscal note on SB 5052 assumes that:
Two-thirds of the medical sales will move to the illegal market where prices on dried flowers range from $9 to $12 per gram. [Prices are even lower when obtained directly from growers and compassion clubs that offer free or discounted products for low-income seriously ill patients.] They only expect a third of medical sales to move to the recreational market (where prices range from $25 to $40 per gram for dried flowers).

The feasibility of this bill relies upon the participation and compliance of the medical cannabis community. Many patients are on a very low fixed disability income averaging just $733 (SSI) to $1100 (SSD) per month and cannot afford these proposed changes. Excessive taxation, costs, and restrictions would inevitably drive the industry back underground, resulting in a fiscal crisis for the state and causing sick and disabled patients to suffer. Please do not pass SB 5052.

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Senate Ways & Means Email List

Write them NOW asking to oppose SB 5052 and prevent it from getting a floor vote next week. This committee is concerned with financial matters, so let them know this is an expensive bill to the state and too costly for patients.

Senate Ways and Means Committee Members Email List:

Andy Hill, Chair-
John Braun, Vice Chair-
Bruce Danmeier, Vice Chair-
Jim Honeyford, Vice Chair, Capital Budget Chair-
James Hargrove, Ranking Member-
Karen Keiser, Asst. Ranking Member on Capital Budget-
Kevin Ranker, Ranking Minority Member, Operating-
Barbara Bailey-
Randi Becker-
Andy Billig-
Sharon Brown-
Steve Conway-
Karen Fraser-
Bob Hasegawa-
Brian Hatfield-
Mike Hewitt-
Jeanne Kohl-Welles-
Steve O’Ban- steve.o’
Mike Padden-
Linda Parlette-
Christine Rolfes-
Mark Shoesler-
Judy Warnick-

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January 30, 2015

WE NEED YOU AT THE CAPITOL… First Week in February !

Keep an eye on the Calendar

The first week in February will be many hearings concerning marijuana/cannabis. Please heck the calendar and make sure to show up and give testimony if you can. 

We have many people saying they represent us, but as shown by the bills the legislators are producing; there is no representation happening for the patient who has no 502 interest of anything to gain financially. 

We are simply patients doing what we can to keep the medicine that saves our lives from being tossed under the bus. We are patients not recreational users. Senator Rivers seems to have it out for the Medical Cannabis Patients. Since at one point she says we didn’t need flowers. Now she is saying we can’t make our own oil.

SB 5052 is designed to do nothing more but eliminate the medical cannabis patient.

Please pay attention to the hearings on this bill and make sure to have your voices heard. Write to your legislators, call them, show up to their offices. 

If you are not sure who they are go here and enter your zip code. It is as simple as that for finding out who is suppose to be representing you!
Washington State Legislature Website

Wepeeps at The People for Medical Cannabis

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