Web Weed War Breaks Out On Seattle Collective Scene


Graphic: Cannabis Defense Coalition

​At first glance Seattle would seem a pot patient’s paradise, with abundant, potent marijuana, a thriving dispensary scene, and $10 a gram prices for medicine. But this week, some ugly internecine strife has become very public, with three pot-related websites being commandeered and rumors swirling as to who’s responsible and why.

Persons affiliated with all three of the sites affected — Compassion In Action, Seattle Green Cross, and the personal site of Seattle marijuana attorney/activist Douglas Hiatt, who heads the statewide I-1068 marijuana legalization initiative — allege that the person responsible is the head of Green Buddha Patient Network, Muraco Kyashna-tocha.
On Sunday, patients attempting to visit the Compassion In Action site were first treated to a profanity-laced telephone message from an understandably upset Dale Rogers (who leads Compassion In Action) to Steve Sarich (who runs local patient collective CannaCare). Visitors are then redirected to competing organization CannaCare’s website.

Sarich told Toke of the Town on Wednesday that he wanted “nothing to do” with redirecting Compassion In Action’s traffic to his site. “I didn’t ask anyone to do it, and I wouldn’t tell anyone not to do it,” he said.

Photo: CDC    

​The URL of Hiatt’s site, douglashiatt.com (beware: Rogers’s angry, profanity-laced message, NSFW, will automatically start when you click the link), now contains no information about the marijuana attorney. (Hiatt’s site has now been restored at douglashiatt.net.)
“Effective Sunday May 2nd this domain is under a new owner,” the former Hiatt site now reads in plain black type on a white background. “Contrary to the confusion, this domain has NEVER been owned by the attorney Douglas Hiatt,” we are told, and the message then offers the domain for sale at $4,000 — “feel free to contact the new owner.” (So, if Hiatt never owned the site, then why is the owner “new”? I dunno.)

Photo: November.org
Seattle attorney Douglas Hiatt leads the state’s I-1068 legalization initiative

​”All proceeds will go to pay for the damage ($2k approx) and unpaid utility bills ($2.2k approx) for the West Seattle house rented by the Dunshee folks,” read a statement that has since been removed. (Dunshee House is the home of the Seattle AIDS Support Group and is associated with Compassion In Action.) 
“Respectful medical marijuana patients DO NOT trash rental properties and they pay their utility bills!” the commandeered Hiatt site still reads.

The whole saga apparently started when a member of one Seattle collective (Compassion In Action) rented a residence from the mother of a member of another collective (Green Buddha), then left the landlord holding the bag for $2,200 in unpaid utility bills and, depending upon whom you ask, a couple grand worth of damage to the place.
The consternation widened Tuesday when a third site, Seattle Green Cross, was also affected. Joanna McKee, founder of the oldest patient cooperative in Seattle, told Seattle Weekly‘s Nina Shapiro that she went to the site of her organization, Green Cross Patient Network, only to find that her contact information had been removed.

Photo: Seattle Green Cross    
Seattle Green Cross, the city’s oldest patient network, was founded by Joanna McKee in 1993

​McKee’s picture remains on the site, but contact information for several other medical marijuana groups has been added — with Green Buddha topping the list, “which seems like more than a coincidence,” Shapiro reports.
Hiatt and Rogers say that Kyashna-tocha set up their sites for them, and registered the sites in her name rather than in theirs. Hiatt and the Green Buddha proprietor worked in the same law office a couple years ago when Kyashna-tocha worked for Jeffrey Steinborn, another Seattle attorney specializing in marijuana cases.
McKee said Kyashna-tocha also set up her site. According to McKee, Kyashna-tocha convinced her that Green Cross needed another stand-alone site that devoted more space to McKee’s role in passing a medical marijuana initiative.
“I don’t know much about computers,” the 67-year-old McKee told the Seattle Weekly.

Photo: Cannabis Culture
CannaCare’s Steve Sarich told Toke of the Town he had “nothing to do” with rival collectives’ traffic being directed to his site

​Rogers, Hiatt and McKee all told the Weekly they believe Kyashna-tocha altered their sites; McKee said she has no idea why. Rogers believes the website grab happened because of the renter/landlord disagreement involving members of his and Kyashna-tocha’s collectives, while Hiatt believes his site was compromised because he attempted to intervene on Rogers’s behalf.
Hiatt had contacted his former co-worker, Kyashna-tocha, last week in hopes of resolving the issue between the two dispensaries, reports Seattle patient advocacy group Cannabis Defense Coalition (CDC).
In response, Kyashna-tocha launched an attack on Hiatt’s site as well, alleges CDC, which reports that the Green Buddha owner still had the login details for Hiatt’s domain.
“Reading into Ms. Kyashna-tocha’s often confusing action and prolific, cryptic writing, she seems to be rallying against medical marijuana authorization clinics which operate in conjunction with medical marijuana dispensaries,” speculates CDC.
Meanwhile, the entire embarrassing incident seems to have particularly bad timing, with Sensible Washington‘s legalization initiative, I-1068, facing a big deadline for signatures in July. Public perceptions of the marijuana community have never been more important in the history of Washington state.
Muraco Kyashna-tocha hadn’t responded to Toke of the Town‘s request to comment at the time this story was written.