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Threats Of Lawsuits Intensify As Council Confirms Pot Moratorium

The General

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Washington State - Despite the pleas of pot advocates during Tuesday's Centralia City Council meeting, the recreational marijuana moratorium will stay in place for the foreseeable future. All three of the speakers who appealed to the council during the public comment session were associated with a marijuana business. All three said the City of Centralia will be sued by at least one of them if the moratorium is not lifted soon. City officials were unmoved.

The council voted 4-3 Tuesday to extend the moratorium an additional six months after the public hearing. Councilors John Elmore, Patrick Gallagher, Bonnie Canaday and Bart Ricks voted down approving pot sales. "I cannot imagine being threatened on every decision we make with somebody that's threatening to sue and I'm not going to govern that way," said Mayor Bonnie Canaday after the meeting. "We don't feel like we have all the answers to the direction that we want to go yet. The moratorium makes the opportunity to look at things."

Councilman John Elmore says that the council is following the will of the community. "As a councilor, my community doesn't want it and I'm responding to my community," said Elmore. "We get no financial benefit, other than a utility tax (on would be producers' energy usage)." Voters in Centralia rejected marijuana legalization. Lewis County as a whole voted against the legalization initiative by an 11 percent margin in November 2012 while the state favored the measure. Potential marijuana processor David Kois, of Olympia, argued that his industry will bring much needed jobs to the city of Centralia. He also argued that the city erroneously equates recreational marijuana to medical marijuana to justify the moratorium. He said that if the moratorium isn't lifted by July he will take legal action. "The two are regulated differently and separately under state law," Kois said.

City Attorney Shannon Murphy-Olson disagrees. "We have our theories, they have theirs," she said. "Those questions won't be answered until we're in a court of law." Speaking on behalf of RIU420, a potential marijuana retail shop in Centralia, Frank Grisham, of Marysville, said his family successfully sued other cities to have strip club moratoriums lifted and they wouldn't hesitate to sue Centralia. "I ask you, please don't put us in a corner and drag us into legal action with this city ... We fought very hard to locate and comply, and I promise you we won't go away," he said.

City Attorney Murphy-Olson said she cannot comment much on the actions the city is taking around the possible lawsuits, whether or not it will take the case to court, or what kind of case it would make to defend its position. The city of Centralia belongs to an insurance pool that helps pay for trials, but Murphy-Olson said it's unclear if it would cover a lawsuit surrounding the marijuana moratorium. However, she said Centralia isn't alone.

"Cities are hearing (threats) around the state, it isn't an isolated incident," she said. Marijuana lobbyist Philip Dawdy spoke in support of David Kois' plans during the meeting and said afterward that he believes recreational marijuana is inevitable. "This is the end of prohibition. The whole world is watching, the war on drugs has been utter failure," he said. "(Centralia) will lose that battle it'll cost them a lot of money."

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News Moderator - The General @ 420 MAGAZINE ®
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KiloEleMent

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This is happening all over Oregon as well there are more and more moratoriums being put in place to keep medical dispensaries out. Now that the state of Oregon has made it legal to have a mmj shop it seems the counties are making it even harder to have one. We had a legal and well managed medicinal shop here in linn county that was in complete compliance with state and county law, very helpful and compassionate, I remember seeing times when someone would be in front of me in the line and they would be short of cost by a little bit and the tender would tell them to put all their money away take your meds and have a nice day! (this was clearly an older person on ssi nonetheless) These good deeds were never seen by the county as far as they were concerned they were just back market drug dealers in their back yard and asked them to shut down by the time it was made legal or they would take further action and now we have this silly moratorium that is doing nothing more and was put in place for no other reason than to slow the medical and legal process down
 
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