Appeals Court: Cities, Counties CAN Enact Own Pot Bans in WA
Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson said Tuesday a three-judge state appeals court has ruled that his non-binding opinion on cities and counties enacting own bans is legal and it stands.
When I-502 passed, creating the legal pot business, several cities and counties where it was soundly defeated inquired about creating their own bans within their limits. They were passed. In 2014 Ferguson issued a non-legally binding opinion that the language of 502 did not forbid them from doing so. He basically said it was so, and in his opinion, it would stand up in court. This was NOT a legal decision, but a legal opinion.
Spurred on by this, more counties and cities began to pass bans, especially in areas like Benton, Franklin, (originally) Yakima, Grant and Adams counties, were the margin of defeat for I-502 was as high as 65 percent.
It has on numerous occasions, including at least four in Benton County. Lawsuits have been brought by people who purchased licenses to grow, process or sell pot, only to find they can't practice due to a local ban.
In this latest case, pot store license holders tried to open up a business in an unincorporated area of Clark County but the county has banned such business.
The only way that will ever change is if the backers of I-502, including the ACLU, re-write the initiative so it's more like Colorado's, then put it before the voters...again.
Until that happens, we will see bans in cities and counties.