Are we really still talking about this?
Washington’s top federal prosecutors have threatened to crack down if the state goes forward with a proposal to legalize medical-marijuana dispensaries and growers, putting in jeopardy a bill that has already passed both chambers of the Legislature.
In a letter to Gov. Chris Gregoire on Thursday, U.S. Attorneys Jenny Durkan of Seattle and Michael Ormsby of Spokane wrote that the bill would undermine drug enforcement and could result in an array of prosecutions or civil penalties against dispensary owners and growers, as well as against state regulators enforcing the proposed law.
The prosecutors were responding to Gregoire’s request a day earlier for “clear guidance” about the legislative proposal, a sweeping expansion of the state’s 1998 voter-approved medical-marijuana law.
“In light of the Department of Justice’s guidance, it is clear that I cannot sign a bill that authorizes our state employees to license marijuana dispensaries when the department would prosecute those involved,” Gregoire said in a statement Thursday evening. She pledged to work with lawmakers on a new proposal.
The bill, SB 5073, is the most sweeping rewrite yet of the 1998 initiative legalizing medical marijuana. It is a response to pressure from municipal governments and police unsettled about a statewide boom in dispensaries, which were neither specifically allowed nor banned under existing law.