After seeing the “candy tax” overwhelming repealed in the November 2010 election, I was surprised to see its author, Clark County Democrat Jim Moeller win his reelection bid so easily. Even though he represents to predominantly Democratic 49th legislative district, public outrage over his disastrous “candy tax” would surely doom his return to Olympia, I felt at the time.
But, he won his return fair and square and showing he didn’t learn anything from the repeal of the “candy tax,” he has proposed yet another off the wall tax plan, cleverly disguised as “comprehensive medical marijuana reforms.”
Moeller and his Senate counterpart in this proposal, Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle issued a press release found in the January 12, 2011 Olympian.
The House Bill, HB 1100 has only been introduced so far and there really hasn’t been a lot of time to study it as to what is actually stated in it, so assessment is in part based upon what is stated in the press release.
Many of the comments left at the KOMO News article on the introduction of the bill seem to reflect a sense of pot itself being legalized, which this bill clearly does not do.
But, it is also common knowledge that legalizing “medical marijuana” is but a step towards that goal eventually. Merits or shortcomings of that intent are not my intent here, though, but this bill that is being promoted as “introducing changes to medical marijuana rules” in Washington State.
A citizen initiative to legalize marijuana didn’t make the ballot last election and the legal use of medical marijuana has been confusing to communities in whether or not to allow dispensaries. Even with that confusion, it didn’t stop the state revenue department for trying to tax the sale of medical marijuana and subjecting dispensaries to the B&O tax, recently increased in 2010.
The press release states, “Patients would be exempt from paying sales tax on medical marijuana products, but dispensaries and producers would be required to pay the state Business & Occupation tax.” That shoots down the effort of the Department of Revenue in collecting sales tax, but does subject dispensaries to paying the Business and Occupation tax, which will most assuredly be passed along to “patients” that would purchase the “weed,” not grow their own.
The release also states in part, “Other provisions include… protections against the workplace discrimination of patients.” Beginning on page 14 of the proposed bill we read, “A qualifying patient may not be refused employment, discharged from employment, or discriminated against in compensation or in other terms or conditions of employment solely as a result of his or her off-site medical use of cannabis,” then launches into a list of exempted employments.
Not stated that I find is “on-site use” of cannabis at the workplace. After all, if it is a medical prescription, what if the “patient” prescribed it needs it throughout the day, as many other prescriptions? Page 15 does state, “This section does not require the accommodation of any on site medical use of cannabis in any correctional facility,” however.
I am left to wonder if that means “patients” needing their “prescription” must follow our anti-smoking law passed in 2005 that basically barred smoking inside any building, place of employment or within 25 feet of any doorway or opening window.
After all, I-901 describes “‘Smoke’ or ‘smoking’ means the carrying or smoking of any kind of lighted pipe, cigar, cigarette, or any other lighted smoking equipment.”
HB 1100 clarifies such “conditions” qualifying for legal “medical” purposes of smoking marijuana as, “Some of the conditions for which cannabis appears to be beneficial include, but are not limited to: Nausea, vomiting, and cachexia associated with cancer, HIV-positive status, AIDS, hepatitis C, anorexia, and their treatments; Severe muscle spasms associated with multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and other seizure and spasticity disorders; Acute or chronic glaucoma; Crohn’s disease; and Some forms of intractable pain.”
If anyone legally prescribed marijuana to smoke are still able to work with these conditions, will they be sent outside with evil tobacco smokers in the cold wet winters of Washington State, to comply with the provisions enacted under I-901 in 2005? How can they not, whether fair or not?
Proponents applauding this bill continually remind us that marijuana is safe, non-addicting, and harmless, even with “second-hand smoke” from smoking the weed around others.
Yet, page 15 also includes a portion stating, “The state shall not be held liable for any deleterious outcomes from the medical use of cannabis by any qualifying patient.” For those who are dictionary challenged, the word “deleterious” is an adjective meaning, “injurious to health; harmful.”
The “candy man,” Representative Jim Moeller, is a substance abuse counselor and has been for a number of years. Surely over the years he has counseled several people with a drug addiction and must know there are ill-effects associated with cannabis use. I assume that is why the disclaimer is included in the new section of the law. After all, if it is really needed and necessary, why would the state seek to exempt themselves from accountability should the legal use of it by medically afflicted people desiring the open use of it suffer anything “deleterious?”
It would appear to me that the main effort, besides caving to a very vocal pro-pot lobby, is to collect taxes.
As this proposal is debated in Olympia, I am sure these portions I have noted and several more will be discussed and thrown back and forth. Some may be deleted, modified and even more added.
But, I’ll bet dollars to doughnuts it won’t be taxing it.