Medical Pot Laws Take “Significant Step Backward,” Dispensaries Now “Clearly Illegal”

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An intensive effort to overhaul Washington’s medical-marijuana law died Tuesday in Olympia, leaving cities and law enforcement to muddle through changes that will clip short the boom in dispensaries.

Medical-marijuana champion Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles said lawmakers were too focused on the state budget to fix confusing provisions left over from Gov. Chris Gregoire’s partial veto of an earlier bill.

“By far, this represents the greatest disappointment of my legislative career,” she said in a statement. She plans to take up the issue again next year.

As a result, a law will take effect in July that allows 45-plant collective gardens for the first time while undercutting dispensaries’ best legal defense. Cities around the state will have to choose between tolerating dispensaries or cracking down.

King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg said that as a result of Gregoire’s veto, the law took “a significant step backward.”

“The commercial dispensaries jumped the gun, and are out aggressively marketing their services. Whatever gray area used to exist to allow that is gone now. They are clearly illegal as of July,” he said.