wenatchee

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Washington: State Attorney General Defends Marijuana Legalization Law Against Cities

WashingtonAttorneyGeneralBobFerguson

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Back in January, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson released an opinion which concluded that, as drafted, limited legalization measure I-502 does not prevent cities and counties in the state from banning marijuana businesses. But on Thursday, Ferguson moved to join three cannabis lawsuits filed against the cities of Wenatchee and Fife for doing exactly that -- banning marijuana businesses.

"As attorney general, my job is to make sure the will of the people is upheld," the Attorney General said, reports the Kent Reporter. "If any party to these lawsuits seeks to overturn state laws, my office will be there to defend the law."

Businesses that applied for marijuana licenses are suing the cities in Chelan County and Pierce County Superior Courts to challenge ordinances that block them from opening. Attorney General Ferguson's office is intervening to defend I-502 as the law.

The Attorney General's Office is authorized by law to intervene in lawsuits to protect the interests of the people of the state, according to Ferguson's press release. The office frequently intervenes, for example, in environmental and consumer protection cases.

Washington: Lawsuit Filed Against City of Wenatchee For Banning Legal Marijuana Stores

I-502Implementation

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

With the first stores selling recreational marijuana expected to open in July, a dark cloud looms over implementation of cannabis legalization measure I-502 in Washington state: Attorney General Bob Ferguson's legal opinion that municipalities can ban the supposedly legal pot shops. Now, a lawsuit has been brought by a man who was denied a license to sell marijuana in central Washington.

At least 10 counties and cities in the state have already banned marijuana businesses, reports Kirk Johnson at The New York Times. Sixty-nine more municipalities, and 12 counties, have instituted moratoriums on pot businesses, according to the Municipal Research and Services Center.

A man who was denied a license to sell marijuana in the central Washington town of Wenatchee, right in the middle of apple-growing country, is challenging the right of local governments to ban cannabis businesses, and also raising the possibility that the law legalizing marijuana could come under "sharp legal scrutiny," as the Times puts it.

Plaintiff Shaun Preder has been told by Wenatchee that he won't be getting a license to sell marijuana, because pot is still illegal under federal law. Wenatchee apparently believes it needs the federal government's permission before issuing any business licenses.

Washington: Attorney General Says Cities, Counties Can Block Legal Marijuana Stores

NoPotForYou

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Washington state's anemic marijuana legalization law is looking weaker by the minute. Now it appears much of the state won't even have local access to cannabis -- Attorney General Bob Ferguson has announced cities and counties can block licensed, legal marijuana businesses from operating.

Just how much of the state will have actual marijuana stores remains an open question after Atty. Gen. Ferguson issued the long-awaited opinion on Thursday.

Ferguson said Initiative 502, the limited legalization measure approved by state voters in 2012, allows local governments to ban retail marijuana shops, grow operations, and processing facilities from their jurisdictions, reports Gene Johnson of the Associated Press.

The opinion was requested by the Washington State Liquor Control Board, which was put in charge of implementing marijuana legalization by I-502. The LCB is concerned that such local bans could severely restrict access to legal marijuana, making it difficult to move people from the black market.

Several localities, including unincorporated Pierce County, Lakewood and Wenatchee, already have enacted bans on cannabis businesses. These jurisdictions have local ordinances requiring businesses to "follow state, federal, and local law," and of course marijuana remains an illegal, Schedule I controlled substance under U.S. federal law.

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