Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Medical Marijuana Textualism And Interpretation

Spokane police have cracked down on all the marijuana providers.

Here is the text in question from the Chapter 69.51A RCW

(1) "Designated provider" means a person who:

(a) Is eighteen years of age or older;

(b) Has been designated in writing by a patient to serve as a designated provider under this chapter;

(c) Is prohibited from consuming marijuana obtained for the personal, medical use of the patient for whom the individual is acting as designated provider; and

(d) Is the designated provider to only one patient at any one time.

Interesting. I didn't know that to become a designated provider all you need is a patient to state so in writing. But sub-paragraph (d) is the part that is being interpreted differently. Law enforcement says it means a provider can provide for only one patient--period. Providers say it means only one patient at a time.

I'm puzzled by the phrase. Why would it be included? If providers are correct in their interpretation, how could they not provide for one person at a time? I need some help with that. Does that mean only one patient can be in the pharmacy at a time?

On the other hand, if law enforcement is correct, a multitude of providers would be required to meet the needs of the patients, i.e., one per patient.

So what did the legislature intend?

Therefore, the people of the state of Washington intend that:

Qualifying patients with terminal or debilitating illnesses who, in the judgment of their physicians, may benefit from the medical use of marijuana, shall not be found guilty of a crime under state law for their possession and limited use of marijuana;

Persons who act as designated providers to such patients shall also not be found guilty of a crime under state law for assisting with the medical use of marijuana; and

Physicians also be excepted from liability and prosecution for the authorization of marijuana use to qualifying patients for whom, in the physician's professional judgment, medical marijuana may prove beneficial.

Those are some broad statements that don't help with this matter. I think the legislature messed up on this one. To me, the definition of a provider taken as a whole means one provider for one patient.

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