Burbank pot bust shows problems with medical marijuana law

The voter-approved law isn't working. A federal law to better regulate medical marijuana is needed.


The recent raid on what appears to be a marijuana growing and selling operation in western Walla Walla County brings home -- literally -- the point we have been making for years about Washington's voter-approved medical marijuana law.

The law is a joke -- albeit one that's not funny but very dangerous.

Timothy G. Casey of Burbank was arrested as a result of a year-long investigation started by the federal Drug and Enforcement Agency and turned over to the Walla Walla County Sheriff's Office.

Under Washington state medical marijuana-use law, permitted individuals are allowed 15 plants. Casey allegedly had 12 behind a hidden wall in his shop building in Burbank. When officers cleared the room of plants, however, they noticed vents and some light coming up through the concrete floor.

There the officers allegedly discovered 27 more plants in three stages of growth, said Detective Sgt. Gary Bolster.

Officers found a "full-scale selling operation" including a processing-resale room with drying rack, three balance-beam scales and two electronic scales, Bolster said. There was an "easily accessible" gun safe with a loaded revolver and a number of other guns.

Oh, and there was also a medical marijuana license.

"... We see this over and over again, hiding behind the medical marijuana license," Bolster said.

It might be that Casey is not behind this operation, but it's clear illegal activity was taking place.

Nevertheless, marijuana does have a legitimate medical use to ease pain and curb symptoms of horrible diseases.

This is why the people of Washington, like those in more than a dozen other states, have used the ballot box to enact laws making it legal to grow and use marijuana for legitimate medical purposes.

However, these voter-approved laws are not always well crafted and can contradict other state and federal laws.

This, too, often leads to abuse of the voter-approved laws causing frustration for local law enforcement officials. It also puts everyone in danger as those growing illegal pot protect their operations with guns.

The solution to this mess in Washington state and around the country is to change federal law to regulate marijuana like other prescription drugs such as morphine or oxycodone.

The federal government could then oversee the growing operations and distribution of medical marijuana.

The current law, while well meaning, creates a facade drug dealers can hide behind. The marijuana operation in Burbank is just the latest example.


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