Senate passes bill merging medical, recreational marijuana regulations

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by ALISON MORROW / KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on March 8, 2014 at 8:27 PM

Updated Sunday, Mar 9 at 3:00 PM

From topicals  to mouth drops, to caramels and capsules, the Center for Palliative Care (CPC) in Seattle sells 30 products containing 100 unique living mother plant genetics.
 
Its founder, however, is concerned about the medical marijuana dispensary's future.

"These products will not exist in a 502 market because people won't grow them," Jeremy Kaufman said. "They won't make any money."

SB 5887 passed through the Senate on Saturday. It's legislation that proponents argue would create a comprehensive and regulated marijuana industry, which has historically operated in a gray area of few rules, allowing for abuse of the system.

It would also rename the Liquor Control Board, changing it to the Liquor and Cannabis Board.

The bill essentially merges the medical and recreational marijuana industry regulations, which Kaufman calls a rushed decision, considering the differences in the products offered.

Most concerning for Kaufman is that SB 5887 makes full vertical integration illegal, which means he can't both process and sell his products, dissolving his control over the pipeline's purity and cost.

"We have 40 cases under the age of 10 that we're treating. Every single case is getting better, all on non-psychotropic compounds that we make that will not exist," Kaufman said. "[Legislators] are nervous about 502 and competition. Once again, it's lack of knowledge. You fear what you don't know."

Patrick Seifert runs Rainier Xpress, a collective garden in Olympia that serves a large consumer population of disabled veterans.

The bill adds a 25% excise tax for medical marijuana, and Seifert's not sure his disabled veterans, many of whom are on a fixed income, will be able to afford it.
 
"I could have the veterans lines up outside this door and each of them can tell you their story of how cannabis gets them through their day," he said.

Seifert's main concern, however, is that he runs a collective garden and those are reduced to just 4 people under SB 5887.

The bill will also require medical marijuana customers to sign up for a registry.

Though Seifert may close shop if the bill passes the House and is signed into law by the Governor, Kaufman plans to fight.

Kaufman sent KING 5 the following explanation about why his business model will not survive SB 5887:

"Due to the structure, demographic focus, and space restrictions of I-502, most I-502 growers focus on two facets when selecting genetics for production, maximum grams of flower yielded per year, and level of psychotropic effect.
 
Medical producers, on the other hand, select Genetics  based on the palliative effect of the specific end product they are seeking to create, whether it's a gell cap, topical cream, mouth drop, or suppository. For patients suffering from M.S., Cancer, Chrohns, PTSD, or any medical condition, you absorb medicine topically, orally, or in digestible form, not via combustion.
 
That means the stark reality for any medical producer is that your gross annual profit is contingent on how many grams of concentrate is produced from your yearly flower production, not how many grams of flower you can produce annually.
 
Medical Cannabis strains produce, on average, 25% less annual flower yield, and a whopping 40-60% less annual concentrate yield (due to minimal resin production of Medical genetics) which boils down to medical producers cultivating, on average, 50% less raw material per year, to generate revenue versus an I-502 producer.
 
So the reality is that medical strains, and the products derived from them for patients, will not be available in the I-502 or the current SB-5887 models. The fiscal infeasibility of bringing these products to market at anywhere near a market competitive price due to the reality of the Medical production schematic,  will almost assuredly obliterate all genuinely medically engineered Cannabis products."

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