Sources close to the issue have confirmed that the authors of SQ788 (Medical Marijuana) are meeting with legislative leaders to help guide the writing of companion legislation for sensible construction of regulatory policy.
While the citizens group are open to some adjustments in the initiative's language; Two key precepts are 'not negotiable' to the supporters;
- Patients who are properly licensed must have the ability to seek self-sufficiency. To cultivate a limited number of plants which are selected to match their medical needs, they must be able to keep a few houseplants on their own property. With hybrid technology, plants can be cross-pollinated with the specific types of cannabinoids which best match their physicians' specifications. The cost of Cannabis medicines is cost-prohibitive for those on disability due to their severe conditions. This principle promotes self-sufficiency, rather than a growing class of people who may one day press the govt. to provide yet another welfare health benefit. The libertarians involved in the petition have insisted on this principle.
There are other factors, such as the stipulated fines for those possessing the Cannabis medicines without proper licensing. The initiative calls for a flat $400 fine. Current statutes allow courts to assess up to a $1000 fine and/or up to a year in prison. While that penalty may seem more harsh, it does give a court the option to differentiate between a drug runner and a sincerely needy and suffering patient.
Another unconfirmed report suggests that the senate Health & Human Services committee chairman, Dr. Ervin Yen; is not involved in the most recent talks. Yen used his dictatorial powers to prevent a sensible bill from becoming law last May. HB3468 would have addressed the needed regulations long before the voters were asked to decide on the issue. Yen used that uncertainty in his efforts to defeat the initiative. Instead, his district's voters removed him from the general election ballot through a Republican primary defeat, earlier this week.
One development has surprised many citizens. The Health Dept. has been hard at work to set up a system of oversight for licensing patients. It seems that the scandals of last year were effective in bringing key reforms to the state agency and we now have a much better department than we did at this time last year.