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Medical marijuana referendum won’t be on Washington ballot

OLYMPIA – Washington voters won’t be asked this fall if they want to keep changes made this spring to the state’s medical marijuana laws.

Organizers of a petition drive to place a referendum of the new law on the ballot won’t be turning in signatures by this week’s deadline, the secretary of state’s office said Monday.

Referendum 76 would have challenged changes in state law that put the state’s largely unregulated medical marijuana system under the regulation of the Liquor Control Board, which currently oversees the recreational marijuana industry.

Medical marijuana dispensaries and commercial growers will have to be licensed. The law also sets up a registry system for patients and imposes a tax system similar to the recreational pot system.

At numerous hearings during the 2015 session, some patients opposed the regulations, saying they fear they will not have access to the strains of marijuana that control or relieve their medical conditions, or they will be unable to afford the more heavily taxed drugs.

A group of opponents calling itself the Medical Cannabis Patients political action committee announced Monday it would work to  “improve the present laws for the benefit of patients.”  A separate group, Sensible Washington, said it will try to overturn the law through court challenges and is raising money on the Internet to help cover legal costs.


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