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By Lisa Rough

July 1st brings the first day that Washington’s Cannabis Patient Protection Act will be in full effect. Although these changes have been slowly unfolding in the past year since the law was passed, come July 1st there will be enforcement for these rules and all patients, businesses, and physicians will be required to prove they are in full compliance. Here’s an overview of the changes that patients, dispensaries, and physicians need to know in order to stay on the right side of the law.

For Patients

Is my medical marijuana recommendation still valid?

Yes. Any currently issued medical marijuana recommendations will remain valid until the expiration date listed on the recommendation. However, you will be subject to certain restrictions until you renew your recommendation and join the Washington State Patient Registry. With a previously-issued recommendation, you may:

How long is my medical marijuana authorization valid for?

Authorizations must expire in one (1) year for adult patients and six months for patients under the age of 18.

Do I need to be registered with Washington’s medical marijuana authorization database?

Yes.If you visit your physician to renew your medical marijuana authorization, your physician is required to enter your information into a Washington State authorization database. Patients may also visit a retail establishment holding a medical marijuana authorization and ask to see the medical marijuana consultant on staff who will enter your information into the database, take your picture, and create a medical marijuana recognition card for you.

Once you have been entered into the database, you may purchase cannabis at any retail cannabis outlet holding a medical marijuana authorization. You may purchase any combination of the following:

As a registered medical marijuana patient, you will also be authorized to grow and possess in your domicile:

What are the other benefits of being registered with the Washington State medical marijuana authorization database?

Registered medical marijuana patients may participate in a cooperative garden. They are also protected from arrest, prosecution, criminal sanctions, or civil consequences pertaining to the legal amount of cannabis they are allowed to possess/consume.

What if I need more than the amount of cannabis allotted for registered medical marijuana patients?

If your physician determines that a patient’s medical needs exceed the standard specified amount, doctors may specify on the medical marijuana authorization that the patient is qualified to grow and possess in their domicile:

Can I join a collective garden?

Up to four patients who are registered in the medical marijuana authorization database can join together to grow the total number of plants authorized by the participants.

What if I don’t want to join the medical marijuana authorization database?

Entry into the database is voluntary, but provides additional benefits and legal protections. You may continue to purchase cannabis from retail outlets, but you will be subject to restrictions and limited in the amount of cannabis you may possess. Those who are not registered with the database may still use an affirmative defense to criminal prosecution if they possess no more than four (4) plants and six (6) ounces of usable cannabis.

Will I be required to pay taxes?

Yes and no. Patients are exempt from paying state sales tax at eight (8) percent. However, all cannabis sales, both medical and recreational, will be taxed with the full 37 percent excise tax. This includes the sales of marijuana, marijuana concentrates, usable marijuana, and marijuana-infused products, whether the products are medical or recreational.

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For Dispensaries

We’ve been operating in compliance with state law, but we didn’t get a medical marijuana endorsement. What now?

Unfortunately, if the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board did not issue a medical marijuana endorsement to your establishment, after July 1st, your dispensary will technically be illegal and face shutdown by state authorities.

Are there still medical marijuana endorsements available?

If your dispensary meets the Department of Health’s criteria, you may apply to add a medical marijuana endorsement to your existing retailer license (you must have an existing retail license to qualify). Please note that there are a limited number of endorsements available per county and endorsements may no longer be available in your area.

We have a medical marijuana endorsement for our retailer. What do we need to know?

In order to stay compliant with state law, you must adhere to the following guidelines:

I’ve been designated as my retailer’s medical marijuana consultant. How do I get certified?

In order to qualify to be a certified medical marijuana consultant, you must:

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For Physicians

Can I authorize patients for medical marijuana?

The following healthcare professionals may authorize patients:

Certified medical marijuana consultants may NOT diagnose any qualifying conditions, and may NOT authorize a new patient for medical marijuana.

What is required for making an authorization?

The healthcare professional must:

Do I need to report to the Department of Health?

Until July 1, 2016, all physicians who authorize more than 30 patients in a calendar month are required to submit a report to the Department of Health. However, after July 1, 2016, all reporting will be automated through the medical marijuana authorization database.

Am I putting myself or my practice at risk by authorizing patients for medical marijuana?

The law establishes immunity against prosecution for practitioners when properly authorizing patients under Washington State law, but not under federal law.

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To continue reading this story, visit our friend’s website (opens in a new window):: Washington’s New Medical Marijuana Law: What You Need to Know