Washington Judge Upholds County's Ban on Marijuana Businesses
Attorney General Bob Ferguson said this is the fifth judicial ruling agreeing with his January 2014 opinion that Initiative 502 does not override local governments' authority to regulate or ban marijuana businesses.
Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced Dec. 22 that a superior court judge has agreed with an opinion issued by his office early this year that concluded nothing in the recreational marijuana Initiative 502 overrides local governments' authority to regulate or ban marijuana businesses. "This allows I-502 to continue to be implemented. Every court to consider this issue has now agreed with the Attorney General's opinion," the news release from Ferguson's office states. The newest case, the fifth such ruling thus far, involves Pierce County, which includes the cities of Tacoma and Puyallup and part of the Mount Rainier National Park.
The judge is Pierce County Superior Court Judge Ronald Culpepper, who ruled in the case of Green Collar LLC v. Pierce County. Plaintiffs in the case sought to open a marijuana business in Pierce County despite the county's ban on such businesses. Ferguson's office released a formal opinion in January 2014 in which it concluded that, as drafted, I-502 does not bar cities and counties in the state from banning marijuana businesses.
The other rulings to agree with the opinion involved the city of Fife (the plaintiffs in that case have appealed to the Washington Supreme Court, which is likely to decide early next year whether to accept review of that case, the release states), as well as Clark County, the city of Kennewick, and the city of Wenatchee. "If courts continue to agree with the AGO opinion that I-502 does not require local governments and counties to allow marijuana businesses, they will not need to decide in these cases whether federal law preempts I-502. This allows I-502 to continue to be implemented," the release states.
"My office is working aggressively to uphold the will of the voters," Ferguson said. "Today's ruling affirms the opinion of my office earlier this year and allows Initiative 502 to continue to be implemented in Washington state. As I have said from the beginning, the drafters of Initiative 502 could have required local jurisdictions to allow the sale of recreational marijuana. It could have been done in a single sentence, but it was not. Now it is up to the Legislature to decide whether to require local governments to allow for the sale of marijuana."