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Washington State Court Of Appeals Says Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Are Illegal


washington court of appeals medical marijuana dispensariesThe medical marijuana industry in Washington State has been a bit turbulent for quite some time now. Medical marijuana has been legal in Washington since 1998. Medical marijuana dispensaries (or collectives, or clubs, or safe access points, or whatever you want to call them) started popping up all over the state during the last decade. Much like Oregon dispensaries, these establishments have been operating in a grey area at best. In 2011 the Washington Legislature passed a bill which would have licensed these outlets, but the Governor vetoed the provisions that would have done so.

There was a major ruling recently that seems to have determined that medical marijuana dispensaries are illegal in Washington, which should lead to some interesting challenges to the Washington State Supreme Court. From SameFacts.Com:

In the meantime, the town of Kent had passed a local ordinance banning medical outlets. Various industry players sued, citing what was left of the 2011 law. But now the Washington State Court of Appeals (the second-tier court) has ruled that the governor’s partial veto makes all the collective gardens illegal, because a legal collective garden must serve registered patients and there is no patient registry. Therefore, Kent is at liberty to ban what was – according to the court – an illegal activity in the first place. All that’s left of the medical marijuana law is permission for individuals with medical recommendations to grow their own: if charged with a violation of state law for production or possession (but not, apparently, sale), a medical recommendation creates an affirmative defense.

Do you live in Washington State? What do you think of this ruling? I think that some areas will use it to push out dispensaries, while other areas like Seattle will continue to refuse to enforce anything and allow the dispensaries to keep operating. All of this of course will continue to be complicated by the botched roll out of I-502. It’s times like this that I’m glad I live in Oregon.


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  1. kip d. mony on

    the 1998 law intended to protect and still protects patient-to-patient transfers, and also protects the patient from a charge of purchasing from a non-patient.

  2. Injustice will always call for Revolution. At it isn’t just pot, as we all know. The inbred corruption of the Cop/Jailhouse Staff just echoes the same bottom feeding going on at all levels of this government. Stay tuned, buckle up, and hope the NSA is recording you (and me.) Justice will out, but the country itself may have a new name…..I hope.

  3. I’m willing to bet the COPS will be the first rats leaving this sinking ship. Their power is too obvious to be sustained.

  4. AaronKightlinger on

    Is the Affirmative Defense also moot, given no registry? I’ve been successful with my Affirmative Defense twice since 2012 (Thanks to Aaron Pelley, Douglas Hiatt, Jesse Corkern & David Arganian).

  5. medcannabis1 on

    Political gamesmanship….. this is why we must work to elect intelligent and informed citizens to public office in the legislature and purge the existing prohibitionists from office…. until then … more needless suffering from the sick and dying

  6. The ASA spent $9000 this last legislative session trying to pass legislation that would have killed off medical cannabis in Washington State. They had a meeting last night to form the first chapter of the ASA in Washington. They are signing up all the the I-502 recreational pot merchants as “patients”….so they can argue that they “represent patients” in Washington. Cute trick. Sock puppet patients.

  7. Erik11235813 on

    You have no idea what you’re talking about. There would be no dispensaries in so cal if not for don duncan and ASA.
    Duncan is not a rich man.
    The mess inLA can be attributed to trutanich and the city council. Not duncan.
    Stop trying to eat your own.
    The council was going to act, and they were going to ban all the shops or else all but the pre ico. It sucks but it was what it was. I hope you learn to stop hating so much. The vitriol is repugnant.

  8. Clearly, you care a great deal about my opinion. Your image is obviously very important to you, Steve. Otherwise, none of us here would have been blessed with your delusions of political persecution. You also *clearly* care a great deal about the opinions of several other complete strangers. But ya — you just keep saying how much you don’t care.

    Let me share a secret with you, Steve. I don’t have a clue who you are, and I never have. I have never read or heard your name before today. I’ve judged you, accurately, entirely by your inability to conduct yourself with an ounce of decorum. Russ is also a condescending, self-aggrandizing, egomaniacal showboat who insists he can do no wrong, but at least he’s never been responsible for setting bad legal precedent. Russ’s narcissism is relatively benign, thankfully. So next time you need to have your pride stroked, just come back here and I’ll tell you you’re pretty. Do the entire cannabis law reform movement a favor and stay out of court, forever.

    Frankly, the pageantry of you so-called “professional” cannabis activists isn’t the grand inspiration you think it is, especially now that you’ve lost your case. You and Russ are so alike — both beyond reproach by self-declaration. I understand how emotionally crippling your courtroom defeat was, given your massive need of validation. But just look over the rants and ravings you’ve published on this article over the last few hours. You’ve given up on conducting yourself in any sort of respectable manner. Put simply, you’ve been acting like a twit, and defending your pride isn’t an excuse for your abrasive attitude. Stop embarrassing yourself, but more importantly, stop embarrassing the rest of us.

    Examine the comments you made to the moderator — you *actually* threatened to LEAVE and take your commenting business elsewhere. Let’s not even TRY to make sense of how that’s some sort of a negative consequence the website administrators are supposed to fear. It’s as if commenting on this article is a service you’re paying for… That’s like sending back food at a soup kitchen because you’re dissatisfied with the way your FREE meal tastes. Believe me, if you make good on your “threat” and never come back here, you will not be missed.

  9. Wow! You really love to whine! I guess I was mistaken….I thought that when you were giving me your critique on our case that you were actually interested in the case….or I wouldn’t have bothered to even respond to you. Obviously you just wanted to bitch and whine about me, personally. Save your breath. I don’t think anyone actually cares what your opinion of me is. I know I certainly don’t….but go ahead and whine away if it make you feel any better.

  10. Thank you for perfectly demonstrating my point, which was ENTIRELY limited to the way you interact with people. I said that in the first passage. Not my fault you lost, but you’re certainly lashing out at me, too, simply because I pointed out how childish your reaction in this comment thread has been. Especially when you complained to the moderator — your comments are riddled with ad hominem snark and disdain, which is kinda like a school yard bully complaining to the teacher.

    Were I interested in having a legal discussion with you, I would have read your brief. Which is why I didn’t start a legal discussion — you’re having THAT discussion all by yourself, big man. All I’ve done is accurately describe your temper tantrum. Although it is adorable how you are now, retrospectively claiming you always intended to lose the case, that this is a stepping stone to the Supreme Court. Delusions of grandeur (as well as delusions of persecution) are also symptomatic of people with your particular personality deficits. I still say it was a mistake to remove NPD from the DSM-V.

    So yaaaaa, you’re not making yourself out to be a martyr. You’re just nailing yourself up on a cross for the fun of it. Gotcha. No really. I believe you. So please, give me another splein-vent response. Cuz I’m totally in your corner, buddy. Especially with that winning character of yours. It’s a wonder the judge didn’t immediately swoon.

  11. I’m hardly playing the victim….I’m simply responding to incorrect comments regarding our lawsuit. I don’t know anyone that takes Russ seriously….including the people at NORML who think he’s a horses ass. I’m not sure what you think I’m hypocritical about.

  12. Radical Russ is the one who wants to create a lynch mob, arguing falsely that we’ve created a problem for the medical community due to our ineptness. I certainly can’t discuss the case with you, or anyone else, who insist on NOT reading the briefs filed in the case by the attorney….while insisting that the briefs were poorly written. I did not write a single brief. Deryk Tsang did not write his brief either, it was written by attorney David Mann, and experienced appellate court attorney, and a newly appointed appeals court judge. So your blind speculation about how anyone’s “fervor” may have crept into our briefs is totally ridiculous, but it’s the kind of comment that people make when they’re too lazy to actually read the briefs, yet still feel somehow qualified to critique them in a public forum.

    I do not consider myself a “martyr”, nor am I looking for sympathy from you or anyone else. Where you are getting this “wallowing in self-pity” bullshit, I have no idea. Please don’t attempt to psychoanalyze me….you clearly aren’t qualified.

    We have not “lost” this case. Both sides knew that this case would ultimately be decided by the State Supreme Court, no matter who won in the lower courts. So this appellate court decision is simply part of the process of getting the case to the Supreme Court. No one has lost or won yet. It won’t be decided for months and possibly not before the next session of the legislature. In the meantime, the Supreme Court stay is still in place and the current collectives are protected. And they’ve been protected for the last two years, allowing safe access to patients. Is that a “bad outcome”?

    Are patients in more danger than they were before? The simple answer is “no”. Are patient who grow at home ANY more “illegal” than they were before this decision? No. So, please let me know what negative outcome you believe, in your expert opinion, that our lawsuit has caused patients in this state, rather than just assuming that there was a negative outcome.

    Is this simply a matter of you not liking my attitude? If so….tough shit. Who the fuck cares whether you like my attitude or not. Certainly not me. I’m not running for office and I’m not looking to win any popularity contests. I’m doing my job and helping defend the rights of patients….which is something you can’t claim to be doing.

  13. Fact is, Steve — your words, your claims, are just as credible and anecdotal as the Angry Lawyer. I won’t pretend I’m familiar with this case or that I read your brief. I will, however, point out how your behavior *right here* doesn’t immediately discount the possibility that you made terrible/weak arguments in court, and THAT is why you lost your case. Your claim that the ruling was political is just that — a claim. A reference to a private conversation with Suzanne Elliot (or anyone else you wish to label “well-known” by fiat) is not something anybody can verify.

    The way you took the criticism of your case and immediately elevated/exaggerated that criticism to the level of “lynch mobs” and “cross burning” really doesn’t help your claim that your case’s arguments were reasonable. I live somewhere you don’t joke about lynch mobs and cross burnings because those things are still in living memory for some people. Frankly, the way you’ve martyred yourself here makes you look like an overly indulgent, self-righteous jerk. I’ve known a lot of guys like that — they always have someone ELSE to blame for anything that goes wrong, they love to wallow in self-pity, they always lash out at anyone who suggests they’re the one responsible when things don’t go right, and there’s nothing they love more than trying to play both hero and victim in every situation. In this regard, you and “Radical” Russ are very much alike.

    Add that to your previous comments in which you use the Holocaust the same way — reducing genocide to a cheap, argumentative device — let’s just say I can COMPLETELY understand how your “fervor” could have seeped into your legal brief and lost your case. Lawyers argue the case YOU bring them. That’s reality. Your statements in this comment thread are indicative of an unreasonable person whose petulant attitude should NOT be allowed anywhere near a legal battle of this importance. You wouldn’t get a parking fine reduced playing that jazz in a courtroom.

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