Medical Cannabis Patients May Temporarily Lose Access to Medicine, DOH Warns

But they can still buy recreational pot like anyone else.

Medical cannabis patients may want to stock up on their medicine, because state officials just announced they might lose it, temporarily.

State Department of Health officials said in a press release yesterday that they may not get Washington’s new voluntary cannabis patient registry up and running by July 1, aka this Friday. That’s the day when gray market MMJ dispensaries, which have existed in Washington for 18 years, are required to shut their doors or face the long arm of the law. In place of those dispensaries are licensed recreational pot stores.

Patients who voluntarily registered with DOH are supposed to be able to buy stronger cannabis in larger quantities with a partial tax break, compared to regular pot purchasers. But if DOH fails to get that registry up and running by Friday, there will be a window of time during which MMJ patients’ will have to forego those accomodations and be treated at licensed stores like everyone else.

This is, like, exactly what patients worried would happen if their grassroots economy of gray-market grass was annexed into licensed recreational stores, as our cover story this week describes in detail.

In a press release which did not include the words “apologize” or “sorry,” DOH said that “We are currently experiencing some software challenges with the database, and it may not be ready by July 1…Patients and providers can still purchase marijuana from authorized retail stores; however, they can’t take advantage of the benefits until the database is operational.

“The department is committed to ensuring patient safety, and it will continue to work on having the database ready as soon as possible.” It’s not clear in the press release how soon that will be.

Dave Johnson, spokesperson for DOH, tells Seattle Weekly that “We’re working feverishly with our contractors” to have the database ready by the Friday deadline. But, he warns patients, don’t depend on it. His message to MMJ patients is, “‘We’re letting you know now, be prepared.’

“We’re trying to be proactive” in warning people about the potential window of lost MMJ patient accomodations, he says.