The state Dept. of Health says it still hasn’t gotten its database of voluntarily registered medical marijuana patients up and running, despite today being the last day on which unlicensed MMJ dispensaries are officially allowed to stay open. Consequently, MMJ patients may lose access to certain types of their medicine for an indeterminate window of time.
From the DOH press release (actually, this is pretty much the whole thing):
“OLYMPIA—We have made significant progress over the past few days; however, there are a few challenges we have to overcome before the system goes live. Our goal is to have the medical marijuana database operational on July 1 [Friday] so patients can benefit under the new medical marijuana law. Patient safety is a priority, and we want to ensure the database is properly working before it is available statewide.”
In an earlier press release sent out Tuesday DOH had said, “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.”
In other words, tomorrow MMJ patients will no longer be allowed to buy their medicine from unregulated, low-cost dispensaries, which state authorities are requiring to close. Instead, patients have to use state licensed store, where they’re supposed to get access to stronger types of cannabis at a lower price in higher quantities, compared to normal pot buyers. But as long as the DOH patient database, on which MMJ patients can voluntarily register in order to get the benefits just described, isn’t ready, MMJ patients have to buy the same pot at the same prices and amounts as the rest of us.
For some patients, this will be an inconvenience. For others, it could be a nightmare.
As our cover story this week describes, its this kind of bureaucratic bungle is precisely what MMJ advocates warned would happen if gray market MMJ dispensaries were folded into the highly regulated recreational market that voters approved in 2012.