You won’t find members of the Seattle-based Cannabis Defense Coalition watching Half Baked for the 84th time or giggling in line at Dick’s Drive In. Instead, members are serious about defending the state’s medical marijuana laws. So serious, in fact, that a week ago, the coalition set up the Washington State Potline, a toll free hotline that allows callers to report medical marijuana arrests and prosecutions in the state.
The hotline has a slew of information about the coalition, state marijuana laws, rallies, public hearings and an attorney referral service, but it operates on head shop hours – 10.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Friday. Volunteers man the phones. So far, Livingston says, the coalition, which has been around since July, has 10 members.
The hotline has received about a call per day, says Ben Livingston, a spokesman for the group. A couple of people have reported arrests, a couple more were looking for doctors who would write them a letter which would help with court defense (contrary to popular opinion, it is illegal for a doctor to prescribe marijuana, Livingston says) and a few wanted to know where they could buy “medicine,” Livingston says.
The trouble with the state medical marijuana law is twofold, Livingston says. First, a user of medical marijuana has no right to stave off the cops; a user must prove his or her right to use cannabis sativa in court after an arrest. Court appearances generally require lawyers, which is where the potline’s lawyer referral service comes in. Second, state law allows a medical marijuana user to keep a 60-day supply, a rather ambiguous amount. Suffice it to say that Bill Clinton’s 60-day supply would probably be far less than Damian Marley’s.
To clear up some of the ambiguity, the Washington State Department of Health has issued a draft rule to address the confusion. Under the proposed rule, a 60-day supply would be 24 ounces of useable pot, 18 immature plants, and six mature plants. A mature plant is one that is taller or wider than 12 inches, and/or one that is flowering. Livingston acknowledges that 24 ounces is a lot of weed for the recreational user to smoke up in two months, but, he notes, many of those who rely on the drug may have lungs that are too weak to be puffing blunts all day. These users are forced to ingest it – brownies and the like – or make pills out of the oil. With these methods, 24 ounces goes pretty fast, Livingston says. As such, 24 ounces is not enough. If you press two after calling the potline, a recording will expand on Livingston’s statements.
First, a typical marijuana growers entice blooming when the plants stand 24 to 36 inches tall. By rendering buds at 12 inches, the state is forcing the user to accept five to 10 grams of “medicine” as opposed to the 50 to 200 grams they would receive if the plant were allowed to grow another couple of feet, the recording says. Additionally, the number of mature plants a user is allowed to keep is too low. Cannabis takes about 60 days to mature once blooming is triggered. As such, a user can expect about an ounce or two per plant; six to 12 ounces for their 60 day supply. This is only about half of what they’re allowed under the law. Lastly, the coalition is concerned that the 18 baby plants aren’t enough to ensure six healthy plants.
Monday, the Department of Health is holding its final public hearing on the rule. “It is imperative that all concerned citizens attend this rally and public hearing,” the recording says. “The rally starts at 10 a.m. so show up early with a coffee and a smile.” The toll free potline is 1-888-208-5332.