It's been an eventful month for Washington's medical marijuana patients. Last week, the Obama administration finally delivered on its long-promised reform of the federal government's medical marijuana policy. Thus were they able to grow without fear of having their homes raided by federal agents, and toke in relative peace.
But now the comes the following announcement from the state's Medical Quality Assurance Commission:
The Medical Quality Assurance Commission received a petition to add bipolar disorder, severe depression and anxiety related disorders, specifically social phobia to the medical conditions for which medical marijuana would be beneficial and that are permitted under state law RCW 69.51A.010(4).
The Medical Commission in consultation with the Osteopathic Board will determine whether the medical conditions submitted by the petitioner will be added to the Medical Marijuana Law.
Translation: Come December, pharmaceutical companies could experience a precipitous drop in sales in the greater Seattle area.
Turns out that the process for expanding the list is actually quite simple. All one need do is submit a petition to the Commission to add a particular condition to the list. Members of the Commission, along with the Board of Osteopathic Medicine, then meet to hear arguments from the public. If it's determined that use of marijuana can alleviate the symptoms of people suffering from (restless leg, irritable bowel, carpal tunnel, whatever), than the two bodies, in consultation with the state Attorney General's office, write an order to revise the law.
Since medical marijuana was approved in 1998, the Commission has added a number of diseases to the original list, including Hepatitis-C and Crohn's disease. But the petition to add social anxiety disorder and other related social phobias has been brought before, and failed. Twice.
Maryella Jansen, Executive Director of the Commission says that the department waits at least five years between considerations of a particular disease to allow new empirical evidence to emerge. In the case of social anxiety, she says, new studies have been produced that might sway the board towards approval. (If you're not put to sleep by scientific research jargon, you can read one such study here.)
The Commission convenes in Seattle on December 2, with the final decision coming two days later. Just in time for the holiday shopping season.