Version Passed By Senate Would Ban Print Advertising By Dispensaries The Washington Senate approved a bill Wednesday night which, if approved by the House, would legalize and regulate medical marijuana dispensaries in the state. The bill, intended to bring the medical marijuana supply chain out of a legal gray area, was approved by senators on a 29-20 vote after lengthy debate, reports Manuel Valdes of The Associated Press. The measure now moves to the House. Senators approved several amendments to the bill which are opposed by the medical marijuana community, including a troublesome ban on print advertising which would strip dispensaries of their First Amendment right to advertise. Distressingly, Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles (D-Seattle), author of the bill, introduced that change. Another horrible amendment -- sponsored by Sen. Mike Carrell -- forbids health care professionals from having practices "that appear to be primarily for the authorization of medical cannabis." What?! "Appear to be"? "Primarily"? Lots of Washington doctors, especially in rural areas of the state, are afraid to write a medical marijuana recommendation. I've experienced this personally, and if it weren't for alternative health care centers with doctors who are willing to recommend marijuana to patients with a qualifying condition, the medical marijuana law would be useless. Other amendments opposed by medical marijuana advocates include shifting regulatory power from the state to cities, enabling them to regulate or ban dispensaries, and requiring dispensaries to be nonprofit entities. The bill addresses a Catch-22 currently faced by Washington medical marijuana patients: While it's legal for them to possess pot, cannabis dispensaries are neither explicitly allowed nor prohibited, raising the question of where they're supposed to obtain the medicine. Patients are allowed to grow up to 15 plants, but that merely changes the question to "Where can I get seeds?" Washington's current medical marijuana law, approved by voters in 1998, doesn't specifically allow marijuana sales, saying that patients must grow the pot themselves or designate a caregiver to grow it for them. That has prompted many patients to form collectives to grow cannabis and share the cost. In Seattle and a few other areas of the state, some collectives also have storefront distribution sites, called dispensaries, or medical marijuana delivery services. Many of the collectives have thousands of members. Since current law is silent on patient collectives, prosecutors around the state have taken widely varying approaches on permitting them. The state Department of Health maintains they're not allowed, but at the same time, the state Revenue Department wants sales tax revenue from dispensaries statewide. Under the bill, the Department of Agriculture would license medical marijuana growers and the Department of Health would supervise dispensaries. The bill also creates a patient registry, accessible to law enforcement, where authorized users can enroll. Registration is voluntary. "My intention is to ensure patients who are qualified have a safe, secure reliable source for the medication that works for them," said Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles (D-Seattle), who sponsored the bill.