C3 Pro Bono Policy Project (C3P3)

Holt v. WSLCB

Contact:  Sean Badgley (206) 488-5031 Sean@C3.legal or Bonnie Fong (206) 330-5785 Bonnie@C3.legal


Mother of Terminally Ill Daughter Sues Governor to Invalidate Cannabis Advertising Laws

July 10, 2018, SEATTLE- The mother of a terminally ill child is suing Governor Inslee over the unconstitutional restrictions on cannabis advertising. Meagan Holt depends upon cannabis to save her daughter’s life. Her daughter, Maddie, is diagnosed with Zellweger syndrome and suffers from seizures that have left Maddie blind, deaf, and terminally ill. The suit alleges Washington’s advertising restrictions unconstitutionally prevent Meagan and Maddie’s right to freely hear communications about cannabis medicines for her daughter.

Last year, Washington placed new regulations on cannabis businesses for the third time since I-502 passed; the new law originally listed as SB 5131, focused on advertisements. Meagan’s suit alleges that these laws, in combination with existing policy from the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) have created a situation that makes it impossible for her to locate a reliable, legal source of medicine for her daughter, including preventing her from finding free product for her ailing daughter.

Meagan’s attorneys, Bonnie Fong and Sean Badgley of C3 Law Group PLLC, focus on challenging state overreach in the cannabis area and they believe Washington’s new rules regarding advertising restrictions are unconstitutional restrictions on free speech. 

Maddie’s situation, “represents a stark example of the unintended consequences that come from regulating cannabis without a proper understanding of the market, the needs of patients, or any of the other legitimate concerns of people who aren’t directly employed by the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board” Badgley says.   Fong adds "The government has taken a highly paternalistic approach to cannabis advertising laws, and in doing so, has infringed upon the rights of our clients' right to speak, and hear, freely."

Governor Inslee signed the laws in question May of last year, which became effective in July of 2017. Since that time, the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) has issued multiple advertising violations. The complaint alleges that the restrictions are unconstitutional and punish patients who need more detailed advertising to make important decisions regarding the patient’s medical needs.

Maddie Holt, age 5

Maddie Holt, age 5