OLYMPIA – Gov. Chris Gregoire threatened Wednesday to veto most, and possibly all, of a bill that would set up state oversight of medical marijuana operations.
The bill received final approval from the Senate last week, but federal prosecutors in Spokane and Seattle had earlier warned that state workers involved in overseeing or licensing medical marijuana growers, processors or dispensaries could face federal charges.
“I won’t intentionally put state employees at risk,” she said Wednesday. "I don't even know if I can implement the law."
Gregoire said she does support the bill’s call for a registry of medical marijuana patients, but it may be too intermixed with other provisions of the proposed law. The question now is what, if anything, can be saved in the bill.
"I'd love to save the registry. I believe in the initiative. I believe we have a problem we need to correct," she said.
Vetoing the bill could mean solving that problem would wait until next year. The Legislature began a 30-day special session this week, but it's supposed to be devoted to state budgets and any bills needed to implement them.
The medical marijuana law might not fit that description. Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, D-Spokane, said it might be possible to get the four corners -- Democratic and Republican leaders of the House and the Senate -- to agree to consider a revised version of the law because the current bill had bipartisan support.
"I do believe this dispensary issue is a real problem we need to get a handle on. We need some kind of clear description of what is a legal dispensary," Brown said.