Medical marijuana supporters prepare to battle Washington

SEATTLE - Muraco Kyashna-Tocha has back problems few of us can imagine. Diagnosed with degenerative disk disease, Muraco has had multiple back and neck surgeries and still suffers debilitating pain.

"Fairly constant. It can move from a shooting pain to a dull throb all the time," she said.

To cope, a doctor authorized Muraco to use medical marijuana. And from the second floor of her Capitol Hill apartment, she grows herself a steady supply. It's all legal under a 1998 citizen initiative.

But Muraco could soon be breaking the law. You see, the 1998 initiative never spelled out how much marijuana a patient could have.

So the Department of Health is proposing new limits of 6 mature plants, 18 immature plants and 24 ounces of marijuana.

"It's arbitrary and capricious and it shouldn't stand. It's not based on science," said attorney Doug Hiatt.

Medical marijuana supporters say the state is trying to play doctor by prescribing one dosage for all patients.

"It's going to make it virtually impossible for the sickest of the sick, the patients who need it most," said Dr. Frances Podrebarac, medical marijuana user and advocate.  

Department of Health officials say the agency came up with the new rules after consulting with patients, doctors and law enforcement.

Still, people like Muraco fear the rules are ill-advised and will cause more pain.

"Hugely concerned…very difficult for me to be in compliance with the new rule," she said.

Patients and their advocates say they believe the hearing at the Department of Health is just a formality and they're just waiting for the rules to go into effect and they will then sue the state.

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