In vetoing the medical marijuana bill, Gov. Chris Gregoire cited worries about a potential threat to state employees. Advocates for the bill, though, say the federal government can't prosecute state employees just for doing their job in regulating pot.
House Democrats are asking Attorney General Rob McKenna who's right.
They wrote McKenna, a Republican likely to run for governor next year, on Monday asking him for his legal advice.
The questions come as medical-marijuana advocates push for action during the ongoing 30-day special session on some kind of legal scheme that would be acceptable to the governor -- including patient arrest protections and some form of official sanction for marijuana dispensaries.
"We need your guidance as the state's chief law enforcement officer, given the current heightened uncertainty about the legitimacy of Washington's medical cannabis program," wrote the group, led by Rep. Roger Goodman of Kirkland and including South Sound Reps. Laurie Jinkins of Tacoma, Tami Green of Lakewood and Fred Finn of Thurston County.
State activities that create a "positive conflict" with federal anti-drug laws are forbidden, the lawmakers say. But they suggest the federal laws don't specifically ban government regulation and licensing, so such activities by state employees might not create such a positive conflict.
You can read the letter here.