May 4, 2011 in City

Lawmakers turn to AG for advice on medical marijuana bill

By The Spokesman-Review
 
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OLYMPIA – A few days after a Democratic governor vetoed most of a new medical marijuana bill, House Democrats are asking her possible Republican replacement for a little help in crafting a new bill.

The 15 legislators, including Spokane’s Andy Billig, signed a letter asking Attorney General Rob McKenna for help drafting a statute that would do some of the things Gov. Chris Gregoire vetoed out of the medical marijuana bill that cleared both legislative chambers.

“We need your guidance as the state’s chief law enforcement officer given the current heightened uncertainty about the legitimacy of Washington’s medical cannabis program,” the group wrote. Last week’s partial veto of the bill threw the state’s program “into a crisis.”

McKenna is expected to run for governor next year; Gregoire has not announced that she’ll seek a third term.

Gregoire said she vetoed most sections of the bill last week because federal prosecutors warned that state employees who would regulate and license marijuana growers, processors and dispensaries could face federal charges.

A spokeswoman for McKenna said late Tuesday his office had not yet received the letter, but they’re aware it’s coming. The office will try to expedite it because legislators are looking at a deadline with the special session, Janelle Guthrie said.

They will have to study the issue carefully because an AG opinion is supposed to “hold great weight,” she said.

Gregoire said Tuesday she hasn’t asked McKenna for an opinion on the bill because the real question involves federal law.


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