WASHINGTON - Nearly two decades after voters passed a medical marijuana law that often left police, prosecutors and even patients confused about what was allowed, Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill Friday attempting to clean up that largely unregulated system and harmonize it with Washington's new market for recreational pot.
KIRO 7 visited a busy Green Theory Recreational Marijuana shop in Bellevue because the general manager there has a unique perspective on the tension between medical and recreational marijuana businesses in Washington state.
Tera Martin uses medical marijuana in her fight to survive breast cancer.
“As a medical marijuana patient myself fighting cancer … I need to know what's in them before I put them in my body,” Martin said
But she says the virtually unregulated and untaxed medical marijuana industry has a big price advantage over the recreational industry.
“Our biggest competition is the medical market and the black market.Their prices are better than ours, they don't have to pay the taxes that we do and it's not regulated,” she said.
But Under the new Cannabis Patient Protection Act, signed by Gov. Inslee, marijuana patients will be asked to voluntarily register for a database.
Those who register will get a tax break on marijuana with low levels of the active ingredient, THC.
And registered patients will be able to possess three times as much medical pot as recreational users -- without fear of arrest.
On the other hand, the big collective gardens will be phased out.
New regulations could force some medical marijuana dispensaries out of business.
But the state would license recreational shops to sell medical marijuana.
“This will mean that not only are they getting safe, quality products but they are also going to get a better price,” Martin said.
Prices will depend on how much lawmakers decide to tax both medical and recreational marijuana.
State lawmakers have failed to resolve that so far. They'll try again in the special session that begins on Wednesday.