Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles (D-Belltown)
State Sen. Kohl-Welles on Attorney General's marijuana decision
By Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles
Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, issued the following statement regarding Attorney General Eric Holder’s announcement that the Obama Administration will not preempt Washington’s legal regulation of a marijuana market at the state level.
This welcome confirmation from federal officials eliminates a major impediment to our efforts to establish a legal, regulated marijuana market in Washington state. This is terrific news for everyone who has been wrestling with the inherent conflicts between state and federal laws.
I’m also pleased that the Obama and Inslee Administrations recognize the need for a regulated system of licensed producers, processors, and dispensers of medical cannabis, which is what my 2011 legislation would have established if it had not been partially vetoed by the governor’s office at that time. Ironically, we were ahead of the curve back in 2011. Although I regret the unnecessary delay in reaching this point, I am nevertheless gratified that those who seek relief through medical cannabis are a step closer to a system that addresses their needs.
This clears the decks to implement the initiative as planned with a system that will not leave sellers and buyers of legal marijuana in our state subject to unfair or unintended legal risk.
Attorney General Holder’s decision confirms the thoughtful and careful strategy we have pursued in implementing the voter-approved initiative and allows our state Liquor Control Board to proceed confidently and with reasonable certainty that what they put in place will not be challenged later. He has promised to work with us as we proceed, and we welcome the opportunity to work with him and the Administration to address any future concerns that come to light.
The administration’s continued insistence on preventing distribution to minors and keeping Washington-grown marijuana within our state borders is reasonable and consistent with our values and concerns. We have reached a common-sense balance that respects both our interest in implementing our initiative and the federal government’s interest in fighting illegal drugs and criminal activity.
For my part, I am glad I decided to wait until the 2014 legislative session to introduce legislation to regulate medical cannabis, providing time for the federal government to respond to I-502 and allowing the Liquor Control Board time to develop rules to implement it.
I will continue to work with state officials and stakeholders to address any remaining issues at the state level in the coming months and in the 2014 session. Apart from commercial sales, we need to preserve patients’ rights to grow their own personal supply.
Follow Ballard News-Tribune on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ballardnewstrib
And Twitter at http://twitter.com/ballardnewstrib