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Washington Patients Experiencing ‘Rough’ Start as Medical Merges With Recreational

Medical cannabis in Washington is having a “rough transition” with the recreational industry, the Bellingham Herald reports, as patients remain skeptical of being entered into the state database and do not want to pay the 37 percent excise tax included on recreational cannabis sales.

It is also difficult for operators to get their medical cannabis approved due to the state’s testing requirements for the drug. Furthermore, there are no labs currently approved by the Department of Health to fully satisfy the testing requirements of medical cannabis products.

Dispensaries who failed to get licensed by the state Liquor and Cannabis Board to sell cannabis were closed down on July 1 — the day that Washington’s medical and recreational systems were combined as per SB 5052 or the Cannabis Patient Protection Act, which lawmakers approved in 2015. Many of those dispensaries had been operating under the largely unregulated, old medical cannabis system.

Retailers now seeking state endorsements to dispense medical cannabis must have employees who have completed state-mandated medical marijuana consultant training, which allows them to create medical cards, help patients select medicine and enter patient information into state databases. Patients must have certain qualifying conditions such as cancer or Crohn’s disease.  

As of July 15, 341 dispensaries in the state were approved to sell medicinal cannabis but just 69 of them had an approved medical consultant on staff.

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