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Medical Marijuana Policy

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.

  • SteveSarich

    The Appeals Court ignored every major issue in the case. Their decision ignores the State Supreme Court’s decision in the Kurtz case. No where in SB 5073 did it grant the cities the power to license or zone for collectives. The State Attorney General pointed this out when he stated that the cities COULD, in fact, have moratoriums on the I-502 businesses because they were specifically given that power. But they weren’t given that power over the collectives. The court failed to address that issue. A plain reading of the law says that collectives are legal. The Appeals Court says they are not. This is not a case that the Supreme Court can ignore.

    In the meantime, the Supreme Court stay is still in place and these cities cannot take action unless we lose this case in the Supreme Court (or they refuse to hear it…which is highly unlikely).

    Steve Sarich
    Cannabis Action Coalition

  • Choom Gang

    I think Mark Kleiman is behind this. I have no idea why the 502 people trusted him.

    • SteveSarich

      Kleiman was certainly the wrong choice for the job, but the LCB was doomed to failure from the beginning. I think Kleiman’s effect on the process was minimal….though expensive. They ended up paying him nearly $900,000 on what was supposed to be a $100,000 contract. I wonder how that works and why no one is asking that question.

  • Layla

    It sounds like their governer isn’t trying to work with the people to make the legalization process happen smoothly.

  • Erik11235813

    With the states on the west behaving like this, it’s inevitable that in 5 years we will all be buying marijuana from Colorado. The only state with enough sense to treat it as an indistry

  • anonatall radio (Emerald Triangle) just received a donation “in memorial of Dr. Courtney and Kristine’s tragic loss of their baby.” Do any of us know more?

  • puhiqueen

    having lived in California where a medical patient can buy and/or grow, it was strange to live in hawaii where you can only grow…but try OK where you cannot do either cause we have no medical provision…if you need it, honestly for a medical condition and not for the want of being high, find hemp…all the excellent healing benefits without the high…and it is now legal, federally, in all 50 states…getting healthy outweighs getting high every time

    • Rob

      hemp is probably fine for some conditions i.e. epilepsy, but when it comes to relieving ocular pressure or chronic pain cbd alone will not cut the mustard. There is a lot of documentation that states that THC and CBD work best in conjunction.

  • AngryLawyer

    I just posted this here on the Canna Law Blog as well and I’m posting it again here to try to fight back against the poison that Sarich and Worthington are trying to spread by blaming everyone for themselves for the harm that THEY (and nobody else) have caused us by their arrogance.

    I have been practicing law in this state for more than 20 years and in an attempt to figure out what actually happened in this case I went back and read the briefs and the court order. This is a classic case of really bad lawyering creating really bad case law for the rest of us. Steve Sarich, John Worthington and Deryck Tsang were the plaintiffs in this case and their briefs were probably the worst written and most insulting briefs I’ve ever seen. The Court of Appeals almost had no choice but to rule against them because their arguments were so absurd and so stupid. I suspect the Court got angry at them and in so doing went even beyond just their case and held that medical cannabis is illegal everywhere. This is the problem in the pot world. Idiots like these three people can kill it for the rest of us. These three people with their stupidity and their hubris have ruined it for the rest of us. My elderly father used medical cannabis and now thanks to these buffoons his doing so again would be illegal. There is an old saying about looking before you leap. Sarich and Worthington have a long history of jumping into deep waters and drowning by not looking first. This time though their unparelled stupidy has drowned countless needy patients with them. Yes I am angry about this and you should too. We need to organize to prevent this sort of thing from happening again. If we do not we will all pay a steep price, of that I am certain.

    • SteveSarich

      Another I-502 sock puppet pretending to be an attorney….cute. Mr. Sock Puppet, the “attorney” claims to have read the terrible briefs written in this case that he claims we wrote. Contrary to his claims, Mr. Sock Puppet clearly failed to read these “most insulting briefs” written by the plaintiffs.

      Deryck Tsang’s brief was written by Seattle attorney David Mann, who was also the attorney that argued the case, admirably, before the Court of Appeals. David Mann is no slouch attorney and has, since this decision was published, been appointed to the State Court of Appeals.

      Seattle attorney Douglas Hiatt wrote my brief and I was represented by my outstanding attorney, Aaron Pelley. So did he read these briefs? Apparently not since he thought I was the one doing the brief writing. So, Mr. Sock Puppet, is lying. He’s not an attorney and he didn’t read the briefs that were submitted to the court.

      Well known Appellate Court attorney, Suzanne Elliot, reviewed this Appellate Court decision and told us that it was very clear that this was a political decision by the court….not a decision based on the state law. The other attorneys in the case agree with her assessment. Only Mr. Sock Puppet, the “attorney” disagrees with Elliot’s assessment.

      “Yes I am angry about this and you should too. We need to organize to prevent this sort of thing from happening again.”

      I love these idiots that make up false identities, claim to be attorneys and then use their new found credentials to stir up hate and distrust. This moron is actually trying to “organize” people to stop us from being activists. Is he going to organize a lynch party? Burn crosses on our lawns? As an activist you can always be sure of one thing….that there will be no shortage of morons with personal agenda trying to stir the pot. And you can be sure that all of them want to remain anonymous.

      The bad actors in this drama are the idiots at CannaLaw group the wrote that home grows are now illegal in Washington State….purposely lying to scare patients. Shame on you, Hilary!

  • greg

    it is not over–in this country people are SMART enough to see what is going on take man made stuff with side effects rather then get the true medicine and not pay the medical industry time is short and the American people want the truth to get well and live happy–

  • olypenn

    After reading this weedblog this morning my first comment goes to the moderator/s (if there are any) asking them why they are allowing profanity and personal insults to be displayed here? I don’t mind hearing all sides of arguments but am disgusted by the personal comments. If the rules of conduct are not followed then we all loose. I didn’t sign up to listen to mental midgets vent. Please do your job of moderation or I will stop my subscription.

    • Sarijuana

      Use your vote and flag the comments!

      • All it takes is one flag to have the comment held for moderation. We are a team of two and Johnny works during the day:)

    • anonatall

      Grow up. We’re all adults here, communicating in our own ways.

  • olypenn

    Back to the question posed about “Do you live in Washington State? What do you think of this ruling?” It is my opinion that it will be impossible to take something back from the medical community that was previously allowed. We should work towards changing the federal classification.

    • anonatall

      Beautiful dreamer….. Wake UP!

  • Sarijuana

    I know I’ll catch shit for saying this, but the states that didn’t create very sound laws that not only allow patients to utilize cannabis but also protect them from this kind of crap have done an injustice to the patients and everyone else. Dragging this crap in and out of the court systems is costly to everyone, and so unnecessary. While I applaud states like Calif and Washington for stepping out and starting the bud rolling, the people who are left unprotected and at the mercy of others is very, very unfortunate. It didn’t have to happen like this.

    Stop with the profanity and name calling already. This too is very unproductive and makes everyone here look bad.

    • anonatall

      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.

  • Tom Terrific

    BOYCOTT 502 !
    Why boycott? Do you have some good bud right now? There’s a reason.
    Do you want some good bud, but can’t afford it? That’s another reason.

    • David and Dab

      I’m with you.

  • Tom Terrific

    A 12yo can go to a 7-11, and buy a COCAINE DERIVATIVE preparation,[ORA-GEL].meant for use by INFANTS for teething pains.
    A dying cancer patient has to live in fear of arrest,robbery,and harrassment, for their use of MEDICAL CANNABIS!

  • Ralph

    Why is this not getting ANY media coverage? Wouldn’t this be a HUGE deal?

    • Ralph

      Seriously, not ONE local news source is running this story. Doesn’t make sense.

      • SteveSarich

        The Governor has the news media in Washington on a very short leash over medical cannabis issues. There will be a story in a national publication, either Reason Magazine or Forbes, today or tomorrow. Local media has been told to stand down.

        • Sarijuana

          Now THAT is a story in itself, and I hope Forbes or Reason cover that as well!

          • Allan

            Same thing is going on in California re: medical cannabis. There is a “regulation” (AKA strangulation) bill, SB 1262 that is sponsored by the “California Narcotics Officers Assocation” and the “California League of Cities”. The COPS are apparently the ones who think they should be the ones writing the legislation for our medicine in California. The bill places heavy restrictions on doctors, patients, and what type of marijuana you can use (and makes BHO possession illegal), among other erroneous measures. And there is complete silence in the MMJ community and news. Instead, the news agencies have spun the bill as a “savior” bill giving “needed ‘regulation’ to medical marijuana in California”, when anyone who has eyes and is able to read knows this bill would kill Prop 215 in California.

          • anonatall

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

        • anonatall

          Don’t we have anti-leash laws here? Rise up and withdraw, I say.


    It is a setback, nothing major. The legal guys have been screaming for more regulation for years now. It sucks but something is going to change. The Medical Marijuana crew has had a good run. Name another industry that hasn’t had regulation in 15 years? Since we didn’t forward regulations of our own, one will be put upon us. A patent register is just one new rule that will have to be dealt with.

  • wowFAD

    You can keep posting all night — I’ll just keep flagging them for removal.

  • medcannabis1

    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

  • AaronKightlinger

    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).

  • kip d. mony

    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.