Washington State Sued Over Medical Cannabis Petitions


Graphic: CDC

​A cannabis activist group has filed suit against the Washington State Medical Quality Assurance Commission, claiming the state agency overstepped its authority and violated the law in its handling of two recent medical cannabis petitions.
Under Washington state law, citizens may petition to add an ailment to the list of conditions for which health care professionals may recommend medical cannabis.
The Cannabis Defense Coalition, a grassroots activist group, petitioned to add neuropathic pain to the law, supported by three recent clinical trials of cannabis in the treatment of neuropathic pain. The Commission rejected the petition, stating “neuropathic pain is not a discretely defined condition,” and that they could not find it in two online medical dictionaries — a result that happens when searching for many conditions already covered by the state’s medical cannabis law, like “seizure disorder.”

The commission also said that many neuropathic pain patients are already covered by the “intractable pain” clause in Washington’s medical marijuana law. That clause requires pain patients to try and fail every standard treatment or medication before a doctor can recommend medical cannabis. The neuropathic pain petition expressly excluded this “last resort” clause.
The Commission approved a petition to add chronic renal failure as a qualifying medical cannabis condition, but added several modifications to the petition, including a clause that authorizes them to overturn their decision at a later date. The Cannabis Defense Coalition filed a separate lawsuit challenging these modifications, which it claims are illegal.
Last month, new research was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal supporting the treatment of neuropathic pain with cannabinoid medicine. Researchers from McGill University in Montreal found that cannabis helps neuropathic pain patients feel less pain and sleep better.