Longtime Washington state medical marijuana activist dies | KOMO – KOMO News

by GENE JOHNSON, Associated Press

FILE – In this June 27, 2007 file photo, JoAnna McKee poses in Seattle. McKee, a pioneering medical marijuana activist in Washington state, died Nov. 18, 2017. She was 74. McKee was instrumental in working to pass Washington’s medical marijuana initiative and pushing lawmakers to support patients. (AP Photo/Andrei Pungovschi, File)

SEATTLE (AP) — JoAnna McKee, a pioneering medical marijuana activist in Washington state who went to sometimes difficult lengths to obtain the drug for the patients she served, has died at age 74.

McKee passed away Nov. 18, said her longtime friend and fellow activist Dale Rogers. He was not certain of the cause.

McKee was a fixture at marijuana policy hearings in the Legislature, where she often testified from her wheelchair, sporting a colorful eye patch and accompanied by her service dog.

She and her partner, Stich Miller, founded Seattle’s first cannabis co-op, Green Cross Patient Co-Op, in 1993, five years before Washington approved medical marijuana.

She had used marijuana to treat debilitating pain from a moped accident and unsuccessful surgeries. After seeing a news report about cannabis buyers clubs for AIDS patients, she decided she wanted to give patients the excess marijuana she grew at her home on Bainbridge Island.

She couldn’t find a co-op to donate to, however, so she joined the Seattle AIDS Support Group in starting one, Rogers said. She and Miller also opened their home to patients.

“This was the height of the AIDS epidemic,” said Rogers, who has lived with HIV for three decades. “They knew how important this was. We didn’t have housing rights or medical benefits rights, but we found out that if we were a group working

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