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Judge Upholds Clark County Recreational Marijuana Business Ban


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A fourth superior court judge on Wednesday agreed with an opinion issued by the state Attorney General's Office earlier this year, concluding that nothing in Initiative 502 overrides local governments' authority to regulate or ban marijuana businesses.

The ruling came from Cowlitz County Superior Court Judge Michael Evans in Kelso in the case of Emerald Enterprises LLC & John M Larson v. Clark County, according to a state Attorney General's Office media release. Because the case was against Clark County itself, the plaintiffs chose to file in neighboring Cowlitz County.

The plaintiffs in the case sought to open a marijuana business in Clark County despite the county's ban on such businesses. A formal opinion released by the AGO in January concluded that, as drafted, I-502 does not prevent cities and counties from banning marijuana businesses.

Kent is one of numerous jurisdictions in the state that bans recreational marijuana businesses.

This ruling follows Benton County Superior Court Judge Vic VanderSchoor's ruling in November in a similar case involving the City of Kennewick, Chelan County Superior Court Judge T.W. Small's ruling in October on a city of Wenatchee case and Pierce County Superior Court Judge Ronald Culpepper's ruling in August on a city of Fife case.

The plaintiffs in MMH, LLC v. Fife, have appealed the decision in their case to the Washington Supreme Court. The court will likely decide sometime early next year whether to accept review of that case.

If courts continue to rule 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.

"My office is working aggressively to uphold the will of the voters," said Attorney General Bob Ferguson. "The 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."

The AGO intervened in this case to uphold the will of the voters, defend I-502 and ensure its proper interpretation. The AGO does not represent the plaintiffs or Clark County. Rather, the AGO is an additional party to the lawsuit. Deputy Solicitor General Jeff Even gave oral arguments on behalf of the Attorney General's Office.


News Moderator: Shandar @ 420 MAGAZINE ®
Source: www.kentreporter.com - Kent Reporter
Contact: Contact Us - Kent Reporter
Website: Judge upholds Clark County recreational marijuana business ban - Kent Reporter
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