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Lawsuits Announced Against Washington’s Harmful Medical Marijuana Bill


washington state medical marijuana raidsA team of attorneys will soon file a series of lawsuits to place an injunction on, and overturn Washington State’s Senate Bill 5052, a recently signed law that will drastically reduce the rights of medical cannabis patients in the state while closing dispensaries and establishing an illegal patient registry.

Signed by Governor Jay Inslee in April, Senate Bill 5052 – which takes full effect in July, 2016 – will drastically reduce the amount of cannabis patients can possess and cultivate, making felons out of those who possess currently allowable limits. The measure will also lead to the closure of nearly every medical cannabis dispensary in the state, and will establish an illegal patient registry that is in clear violation of federal HIPAA laws.

The lawsuits will seek to place an immediate injunction on the new law, preventing it from taking effect while the group works to overturn it permanently.

The group of renowned attorneys who will be working on the lawsuits include Sensible Washington co-founders and longtime criminal defense attorneys Douglas Hiatt and Jeffrey Steinborn (who have 70 years combined legal experience), and attorney Aaron Pelley of Pelley Law LLC, among others.

Hiatt tells us that the group will be filing two to three separate lawsuits that will seek to fully dismantle the new law, in order to protect the rights that patients currently have, and to prevent the state from establishing the patient database.

They group plans to make a formal announcement in the coming days.

Source: The Joint Blog


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Johnny Green


  1. I KNEW this was going to happen and said so the day after the Gov signed it. They couldn’t even get this right (and it’s already in place!!). Anyway legalization controlled by prohibitionists is still prohibition lite. What we have in this state is not cannabis freedom. And until it’s treated EXACTLY like the wine, beer and spirits industry this isn’t legalization either…

  2. I was very surprised when I read this story elsewhere yesterday since I know the three attorneys mentioned. I called both Steinborn and Pelley, both of whom have represented me. Neither had seen the article and were unaware of any lawsuits being filed or what the cause of action of those lawsuits might be. Apparently this was information given to the press by Hiatt without the knowledge or approval of the other two attorneys.

  3. Frankly I was hoping they were going to come up with a better lawsuit than the very week “HIPAA” argument.

    The lawyers for Sensible Washington are going to find themselves with little ground to stand on. First HIPAA is a federal law that governs medical records, and since Marijuana is still a Schedule 1 narcotic “without any medical purposes” it will be very hard to apply HIPPA standards to a substance that isn’t federally recognized as a medical treatment. The lawsuit is likely to be thrown out on jurisdictional grounds, and I guarantee that SW doesn’t want to bring it to a Federal Court in fear that the court will find the whole system is in violation of federal law.

    Second, the registry is voluntary. The states attorney will argue that since that medical patients are not dependent on the registry to have access to their medicine and only gain additional benefits (lower taxes, higher possession limits, ability to grow, etc.), the argument from the state will be that the registry is not a “medical” database but a “benefits” database. This is supported by the fact that the database is administered by “endorsed” budtenders and not by licensed medical professionals such as Doctors or Nurses, and the database will only consist of a patients name and registry number. Without having actual medical information (height, weight, age, conditions, treatment plans, etc.) it would be difficult for SW to prove it contains any actual information that applies to HIPAA. It also doesn’t help that many other states already have registries without any real challenges to their legality.

    I don’t think MMJ patients understand what a true shot in the dark this (or any other) lawsuit is, and how likely it is to fail. Like it or not, SB5052 will more than likely become law, save for a citizens referendum (unlikely to pass) or quick passage of the CARERS Act in Congress.

    Let this be a lesson to other MMJ markets in the US: clean up your bad actors, and propose your own regulations before its to late, or meet the fate of WA MMJ…

  4. Closetsmoker on

    Was waiting for this to happen. Time to start sending the message that we have spoken. Cannabis is medicine, and we want to have it.

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