Sanity must be brought to state's medical marijuana law

Injuries and a death because of efforts to rob those growing medical marijuana make it clear a better system is needed.

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Earlier this week a well-known supplier of medical marijuana traded gunfire with robbers who invaded his Seattle home. When the shooting stopped one of the intruders was wounded to the point he was sent to the intensive care unit at a hospital.

"I don't want to shoot people, but God, this is our eighth home invasion since last May," Steve Sarich told The Associated Press.

Sarich runs CannaCare, an organization that provides patients with pot plants and advice about Washington's medical marijuana law.

Now Sarich says he plans to sue the King County Sheriff's Office after the investigation of the shooting turned into what he called a prolonged marijuana raid. Hundreds of marijuana plants were said to have been seized by law enforcement.

In a different case just two days earlier, a medical marijuana patient from Pierce County, Michael Howard, died of injuries suffered in a March 9 incident in which robbers targeted his growing operation.

These incidents are troubling. And, unfortunately, they are probably not an aberration. The availability of medical marijuana, despite being legal under a voter-approved state law, spurs theft attempts and violence.

A major reason is that marijuana for medical use is treated differently than other medicines. The line is blurred between pot used to ease the suffering from cancer treatments or other ailments and its use as a recreational drug to get high.

The situation is a mess and it's going to get worse in Washington state - and across the nation.

Many people accept that marijuana has a legitimate place in medicine, which is why voters made it legal in about a dozen states. This, however, doesn't mesh well with federal laws and many state laws.

But even if the crop is being grown for medical purposes it is still a valuable commodity on the street, which is why Sarich has had his home invaded eight times in less than a year.

Frankly, there outta be a law - a federal law.

The federal government should treat medical marijuana like other drugs distributed by a doctor's prescription such as morphine and codeine. The government should oversee the growing and distribution through licensing.

But the Wild West approach that has been created by this patchwork of voter-approved medical marijuana laws isn't working, nor is it safe.

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