As we noted in our cover story last year, medical-marijuana entrepreneur Steve Sarich likes to stir up trouble. And he seems to get a particular kick out of giving the metaphorical finger to pot activists who get on his bad side. That's exactly what he's done to Sensible Washington, the group that ran last year's pot legalization initiative.
Sarich has been busy since the Weekly wrote about him last May, shortly after a shoot-out at the Kirkland home where he ran a dispensary that sold pot to numerous patients. He moved to North Bend, opened a new dispensary in SoDo (called Access 4 Washington). and established offices in Montlake Terrace for a business he runs providing doctor's authorizations for pot.
He has not, however, affiliated himself with Sensible Washington other than through the Secretary of State filing. He and the real head of Sensible Washington, Seattle attorney Douglas Hiatt (pictured at left), have kept an arm's-length distance from each other, each professing different philosophies toward the pot industry. Hiatt talks up the nonprofit model, which Sarich dismissed as a sham. And the brash entrepreneur isn't enthusiastic about Sensible Washington's crusade to legalize marijuana as a whole, not just for medical purposes. "That's not my issue," he says.
Sarich claims he carried out his Secretary of State stunt to make a point. Sensible Washington is done with last year's initiative, Sarich notes, yet the organization has continued to raise money. "Where is the money going?" he asks, suggesting that something nefarious might be afoot if the organization hasn't bothered to register with the Secretary of State.
Hiatt concedes that the group has continued to raise money. He says that's because it plans to file a new pot-legalization initiative next week.
He adds that Sensible Washington is registered with the IRS and the state Public Disclosure Commission, if not with the Secretary of State (Sarich's filing aside). "We have the common law trademark. If he wants to fight about it in court, we'll fight about it."
But Hiatt himself does not seem so inclined, portraying registration with the Secretary of State as meaningless--unlike another stunt foisted upon him last year, when someone laid claim to the attorney's website.
In other words, as Ben Livingston of the Cannabis Defense Coalition says, Sarich's shenanigan "seems like more of a funny 'Fuck you' than anything else."