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County’s ban of pot sales gets legal support

1:36 pm January 20th, 2014

Pierce County has Washington’s top lawyer on its side in attempting to ban legalized sales of recreational marijuana.
State Attorney General Bob Ferguson issued a legal opinion last week that the voter-approved legalization doesn’t prevent counties and cities from banning sales outright or setting other local rules that are stricter than the state’s.
The Pierce County Council last November passed local legislation prohibiting licensed marijuana businesses in unincorporated areas of the county. County Executive Pat McCarthy, citing concern over possible legal challenges and saying the county should comply with state law, vetoed the council action. But the council voted to override the veto, leaving intact the ban, which the council majority wants to remain in effect until Congress removes pot from the list of federally controlled substances. There have been no indications that Congress plans to do that.
The county ban was approved 12 months after voters statewide in November 2012 approved Initiative 502, the pro-pot sales ballot measure. Cities and towns such as Eatonville will make their own decisions on whether to accept the state control or set their own local regulations.
The state Liquor Control Board requested an opinion from Ferguson on local ordinances versus the state law. The opinion from his office last Thursday stated, “Although Initiative 502 establishes a licensing and regulatory system for marijuana producers, processors and retailers in Washington, it includes no clear indication that it was intended to preempt local authority to regulate such businesses. We therefore conclude that I-502 left in place the normal powers of local governments to regulate within their jurisdictions.”
The board’s chairwoman, Sharon Foster, said the legal opinion “will be a disappointment to the majority of Washington’s voters who approved Initiative 502. We’re not yet sure how this opinion will change the implementation of the initiative. If some local governments impose bans, it will impact public safety by allowing the current illicit market to continue. It will also reduce the state’s expectations for revenue generated from the legal system we are putting in place.”

3 Responses to County’s ban of pot sales gets legal support

  1. Eric Reply

    January 20, 2014 at 2:03 pm

    Wow, again the government is using our tax money …. wasting our tax money to deny what the majority of the public agreed to. This is the same tactic they did when we said no to the fuel tax back in early 2000s. The legislature ignored the public and added the tax and said….we have right to override the publics vote because it is a betterment to the public. I SAY BS on that. Its a betterment to their pocket book. Lets stand up and get rid of the legislature. They were invented to help the public during the war times and when the civil wars were over…they were suppose to be gone. Lets get rid of those money mongers.

  2. Jackie Marsden Reply

    January 20, 2014 at 5:40 pm

    In Clark County the problem isn’t the legislature but our county commissioners. Our Senate and House reps support implementing I-502. I don’t know where the AG gets the idea that the law needs to explicitly state that local governments can opt out when the law very clearly doesn’t include an opt out option the way Colorado’s marijuana initiative does. Why do lawyers have to finagle meaning into very clear wording or this case, make up meaning where wording doesn’t exist! Were we the voters not clear in our intent?

    I understand that not everyone agrees with the law but we have to all have a basic agreement as a society how things are going to run. Sometimes that means living by rules you don’t like or taking actions to legally change the law.

    Defunding or banning laws you don’t like that were voted into being is not the democratic way – if you don’t like it, take it back to the people and make your case; otherwise, back off and at least see if the greater wisdom of the people might be more than your own.

    Who knows, maybe legalizing marijuana is a better approach to the war on drugs. What we have been doing certainly isn’t working!

  3. Dale Kramer Reply

    January 20, 2014 at 5:49 pm

    “As has been well documented, I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life. I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol,” Obama told the weekly magazine.

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