Attorney Doug Hiatt
On Friday the State Liquor Control Board, with help from the Pierce County Sheriff's Department, swooped in on a Parkland medical marijuana non-profit business called the Hashford Compassion Club - saying a complaint led to a sting in which a minor informant was able to purchase beer marketed as "cannabis enriched," according to The News Tribune in Tacoma. The paper indicates cases of the beer were confiscated and sent to prosecutors.
Attorney Doug Hiatt
Officials with the Liquor Board tell the Trib that the business does not have a license to sell alcohol, and that the agency is pursuing only the liquor sales violation. However, that apparently hasn't stopped the Hashford Compassion Club from reaching out to well-known medical marijuana lawyer Doug Hiatt.
When reached by phone this afternoon by Seattle Weekly, a representative with Hashford Compassion Club declined comment at the advice of legal representation, saying only that the business was operating within its legal rights at the time of the sting. The employee said attorney Doug Hiatt, known for his years of service as a lawyer for medical marijuana patients and as the founder of Sensible Washington, would be handling the case.
Seattle Weekly reached out to Hiatt shortly thereafter, who was quick to note that he has not yet been hired to handle the case and is not yet up to speed on all the facts. However, Hiatt wondered aloud if - despite comments to the contrary by the Liquor Control Board -the bust had more to do with going after a medical marijuana business than cracking down on the unlicensed sale of booze.
While Hiatt has yet to be hired to handle the case, he expects that will change in the coming days.
"I expect to be hired, and I expect to be representing them," says Hiatt.
Interestingly, Hashford Compassion Club was profiled by the Tacoma Weekly in September, 2011 as a medical pot enterprise known for running a tight ship and playing by the rules.
As David B. Hardt wrote for Tacoma Weekly at the time:
Contrary to popular assumption, a visit to Hashford Compassion Club does not entail walking down an eerie, dark alley, running from bloodthirsty guard dogs, or feeling the least bit uncomfortable. [President Micah Anderson and Vice President Tracie Earles] have invested time, energy and finances to help break the stereotype, not wanting to be affiliated or associated with suspect co-ops that do not operate on that level.
Anderson was inspired to open his Compassion Club after experiencing the ugly, unprofessional side of the business. "I went out and visited various dispensaries in the Tacoma region. Unfortunately, I discovered that most of them had something in common, including drug dealers, bullets in the glass, bars on the windows and barking dogs. When I entered these establishments, I felt like I was going into a heroin den. It was a disgusting atmosphere. I figured that if I was a 65-year-old woman that experience wouldn't be welcoming, so from there I started to develop my model, which is what you see here."
Anderson is very clear and concise about the definition of his club, careful to avoid any misrepresentation. "As a private, not-for-profit organization, we are able to work with several non-commercial collective gardens. Our ability to associate with numerous co-ops affords us the opportunity to offer a wide range of medicinal cannabis products, giving patients options in their personal care plan," Anderson said. "We are a safe harbor. Our members band together to lend support and offer encouragement, as well as exchange medical cannabis products."
I plan to follow up with Hiatt later this week once (presumably) he's officially hired to represent Hashford Compassion Club.