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Washington State Court Of Appeals Says Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Are Illegal

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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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