Douglas Hiatt has spent the majority of his career serving as a public defender. Most recently with Northwest Defender Association in Seattle, and with the Skagit County Public Defender’s Office; developing an acute appreciation for the injustices of our legal system. Hiatt’s concern for downtrodden victims of drug war aggression compelled him to enjoin private practice with deepening resolve.
As a member of the Federal CJA panel, Hiatt continues to take indigent clients in federal prosecutions. Hiatt’s long experience in marijuana law predicated his current association with the Law Office of Jeff Steinborn, renowned marijuana defense attorney in Seattle. A champion of the underdog and savior of the sick and poor, Hiatt has spent many years handling complicated medical marijuana defense cases largely pro bono.
Although intended to protect marijuana patients, the passage of Initiative 692 in 1998 actually created a plethora of situations requiring delicate behind-the-scenes negotiations as well as bold courtroom strategies in order to circumvent certain legal disaster for victimized clients.
Recent developments in Washington State law have drastically intensified the legal struggles of persons who use marijuana with their doctor’s approval. Following the Shepherd Opinion, Hiatt has been inundated with complicated prosecutorial challenges on virtually every medical marijuana case now pending. His is the only attorney’s office expert in medical marijuana defense in WA State-defending disadvantaged clients on a shoestring budget-and he is becoming overwhelmed with the burden.
I thought i had a simple mission when this all started. I had attended a continuing legal education seminar for volunteer attorneys for people with AIDS. I had to agree to take one free case in the next year to get the seminar for free. That one case turned out to involve an AIDS patient who was in jail for a misdemeanor amount of “medicine”. I could not believe that a dying person was being treated that way for using something his doctor approved of.
That case changed my life. I thought everyone would agree with me that leaving a sick person alone to use a medicine recommended by their doctor was the only sane thing to do. Obviously, eleven years of fighting later, I was a trifle too optimistic.
After the medical marijuana initiative passed, I thought things would improve. Wrong again. I thought democracy still counted for something and that respect for sick and dying patients would follow and that law enforcement would respect the people’s wishes. By now you know the drill : Wrong Again.
The continuing struggle for the rights of medical marijuana patients has taken over my traditional criminal law practice. I now believe that this issue of personal freedom and medical treatment is one of the most important liberty issues facing us as a country today. If we cannot get it together and treat patients and others as full human beings with respect for their medical treatment, we are in serious trouble.
We ARE in serious trouble. Join me in fighting for patient rights in Washington State.
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Seattle, WA 98104
Tel (206) 412-8807
© Douglas Hiatt 2016 . douglashiatt.net . Seattle, Washington
Washington State Bar member since 1992