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Medical Marijuana

A Guide to Washington's Medical Marijuana Law

Jul 17, 2015
Washington State voters passed the Medical Use of Marijuana Act in 1998 as a ballot initiative (I-692).  The information here provides a general explanation of the law. Read More »

ACLU of Washington Applauds Supreme Court Decision Upholding Rights of Medical Marijuana Patients

Sep 19, 2013
The ACLU of Washington hailed a decision by the Washington Supreme Court today recognizing the right of medical marijuana patients to raise a medical necessity defense in court.  The ACLU-WA filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case (State v. Kurtz) saying that the state’s Medical Use of Marijuana Act did not supersede the common law medical necessity defense, and that medical marijuana patients should be able to cite both medical necessity and state law in defending themselves. A medical necessity defense is available to someone who has violated a law, but was justified in doing so because the harm being avoided is greater than the harm of violating the law. Read More »

State v. Kurtz

The ACLU filed a friend of the court brief arguing that a common law medical necessity defense for medical marijuana use still exists in Washington, despite the fact that we also have a separate medical marijuana statute. The brief focused on the narrow issue of Washington’s strong deference to common law and the absence of clear legislative intent to abrogate the common law medical necessity defense in this context. The Washington Supreme Court agreed with this analysis in a 5-4 opinion holding that “medical necessity remains an available defense to marijuana prosecution and that the Washington State Medical Use of Marijuana Act…does not abrogate common law.” Read More »

A Medical Marijuana Registry Should Protect Patient Privacy

Washington remains the only medical marijuana state not to have a patient registry. Washington’s medical marijuana law also fails to provide patients any protection from arrest.  Law enforcement resistance to providing arrest protection has been based in part on the absence of a state-run registry. Lawmakers tried to remedy this situation in the 2011 legislative session by including a cutting edge, privacy protecting patient registry in SB 5073 (sponsored by Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, 36th District).  Read More »

State Supreme Court Rules Medical Marijuana Law Does Not Protect Employees from Being Fired

Jun 9, 2011
The Washington Supreme Court ruled against an authorized patient who was fired for using medical marijuana, even though there was no evidence that its use interfered with her job performance. In a disappointing 8-1 opinion, the Court found that the Washington Medical Use of Marijuana Act does not protect employees who are discharged for exercising their right to use marijuana for medicinal purposes. Read More »

Safe Access to Medical Marijuana: Federal Raids and a Governor's Veto Won't Solve the Problem

Today, two troubling news stories on medical marijuana are in the headlines in Washington. The first is the federal government's raids on medical marijuana dispensaries in Spokane. The second is Governor Gregoire's expected veto of SB 5073, the thoughtful and comprehensive medical marijuana bill passed by the state legislature with leadership from Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles and Rep. Eileen Cody. Read More »

Washington can't wait. Tell Gov. Gregoire to sign the medical marijuana bill.

Thanks to over 1600 emails from ACLU supporters like you, the medical marijuana bill has passed both houses of the Washington state legislature. After the final bill goes to the governor, it can become law with her signature. Tell Governor Gregoire to sign the medical marijuana bill. Read More »

Olympia, Stop the Raids on Sick People

Let’s be clear:Senate Bill 5073, the medical marijuana legislation moving through the state legislature, isn’t perfect.  Different stakeholders with different motivations have made a lot of changes to it along the way. It’s no one’s ideal bill. Read More »

We're winning! But medical marijuana patients need more help.

Thanks to over 800 emails from ACLU supporters like you, the medical marijuana bill has passed the Washington Senate, and is now in the House.

We still need your help to keep the bill moving. Currently, seriously ill patients are exposed to raids on their homes or forced into a dangerous black market to obtain medicine. Patients need safe access, and law enforcement needs clearer guidelines. Tell House legislators in Olympia to pass a medical marijuana bill that protects doctors and patients. Read More »