The movement to re-legitimize cannabis to it’s pre-prohibition state has always been a ground up affair.
In the late 70’s, when Robert Randall challenged the federal government’s stance on marijuana, citing medical necessity–a legal basis that allows citizens to break federal law when the harm of following it outweighs the alternative–he became the Rosa Parks of the modern medical marijuana movement.
Randall had Glaucoma, and the federal government, via studies aimed at finding easier ways for law enforcement to identify persons who were “high”, inadvertently discovered that marijuana relieves pressure on the eyes and can reverse the blinding cause by this disease.
He won his case, and became the first patient in the federal government’s Investigative New Drug (IND) program that would provide him 300 cannabis joints per month until his death more than twenty years later. Dozens more would follow in a program that was hardly advertised but available for patients brazen enough to challenge the federal government. And Randall never went blind.
I have great respect for our City Attorney Pete Holmes. We’ve welcomed him into our office and discussed at length how to clean up the mess that is Washington State medical marijuana. Despite his statement using absolutes, he knows there’s quality people and quality operators in medical cannabis.
Commercial supply was borne out of a need to establish quality standards, testing, and consistent supply for patients who are in legitimate need. It has always been federally illegal.
It is also the foundation on which the state passed and regulated recreational cannabis over the past several years.
Patients and advocates have acted in a space where legislators and regulators have been hesitant, and the melee we see is the result. But the movement for medical marijuana wasn’t based on taxes, or moving cannabis off of playgrounds and into regulated stores. That came with Initiative 502 (I-502).
The movement for medical marijuana was created out of medical necessity. By people like Robert Randall, and Haiden Day.
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and his staff have been working over the past several months to build a program that would license medical marijuana operators, require testing, and bring medical cannabis inline with I-502. Good actors have been pushing for it for years.
The fundamental difference in the opinions of City Attorney Pete Holmes and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray is the belief in recreational store’s ability to handle the needs of patients.
Someone who depends on cannabis to keep from going blind, or stop from seizing, or rise out of bed without pain, should never be subject to the steep taxes that the recreational system imposes.
Imagine using a medicine that cured your ailment, imagine depending on that medicine. Then imagine being told the exact same medicine was going to triple in price.
You might not be okay with that. That doesn’t make you a criminal.
Regulation is paramount, but you can’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.
Will Denman, Solstice Co-Founder
Will Denman is President and co-founder of Solstice. Will Denman helped craft the “Collective Garden Model” under RCW 69.51.A, which facilitates current medical cannabis access in Washington state. Will was a founding member of the Coalition of Cannabis Standards and Ethics, whose mission is to develop ethical guidelines and quality standards for the legal cannabis industry. He has been a key advisor to the Washington State Liquor Control Board, regarding the implementation of Initiative 502 on topics such as taxation, banking practices, compliance, traceability, and best practices. This advice includes co-authoring Legal Cannabis Production Costs: Estimating Costs Based on Medical Cannabis- a research paper establishing current costs of cannabis production under a variety of commercial applications.