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Clark County Washington Stands Firm On Pot

The General

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The Washington State Liquor Control Board's decision to license a recreational marijuana grower in unincorporated Clark County will draw another rebuke from county commissioners. Commissioners intend to sign off on a letter to the liquor board in the next week reaffirming their May decision to ban pot stores, processors and producers from taking root within their jurisdiction. It will be the second letter sent by commissioners to the state board about the permit since the beginning of the year.

The liquor control board, which regulates marijuana statewide, received an application from Gensys One Corp. to produce and process marijuana earlier in the year and reviewed it against the wishes of county commissioners. Commissioners sent the liquor control board a letter in January requesting disapproval of the application on the grounds that the county had no zoning standards in place for marijuana facilities and would possibly ban them outright in the near future.

But in a letter to county commissioners, dated June 17, the liquor control board wrote that the county's "objection is not grounds for seeking denial" because it failed to meet any of the elements contained in the state's regulation of recreational marijuana. The liquor control board also did not allow the county to have an administrative hearing to appeal the decision. The liquor control board then sent a letter, dated July 8, notifying Gensys One Corp. that its license was valid through November 2014.

Commissioners intend for the second letter to reaffirm their position that, despite the state's approval of the license, they will not allow the facility, or any company tied to recreational marijuana, to do business on unincorporated land. According to the legal opinion of Chris Horne, the county's chief civil deputy prosecutor, the county's zoning ordinance trumps the state's permit. "It's a direct and blunt communication," county Administrator Mark McCauley said of the letter to the liquor control board. The letter comes as two pot stores – Main Street Marijuana and New Vansterdam – start doing business in Vancouver and report brisk sales despite steep prices.

Commissioner Ed Barnes said the letter will remind the state board of the county's position, which is that it will not allow recreational marijuana until the drug is legalized federally. Commissioners approved the zoning ordinance prohibiting recreational marijuana facilities on May 27. Local jurisdictions statewide have instituted similar bans. In January, Attorney General Bob Ferguson released an opinion saying he believed local jurisdictions could legally enact bans against recreational marijuana despite voter approval of Initiative 502.

But since then, such bans have been challenged in court. The city of Wenatchee is being sued because of its recreational marijuana ban. Horne, the county's attorney, said the lawsuit could be tied up in court for years. The county is watching how it plays out. "It's hard to guess what the ruling could be," said Horne. "Yes, it could have an impact (on the county's ban)." He said he feels confident the county has positioned itself to defend its zoning decision, should it face a lawsuit. A person who feels they lost money as a result from the decision could potentially sue, he said. "I believe the county has the authority to undertake the zoning action it did," Horne said, adding the county is legally prepared.


News Moderator - The General @ 420 MAGAZINE ®
Source: Columbian.com
Author: Tyler Graf
Contact: Contact Us
Website: County stands firm on pot | The Columbian
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