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WA Attorney General Supports Fife Pot Ban, But Disagrees on Federal Ban

Attorney general weighs in on pot lawsuit
Attorney general weighs in on pot lawsuit (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

It’s hard to follow without a scorecard…

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson has weighed in the lawsuit filed against the City of Fife, WA by perspective pot store owners.  Two businessmen who were awarded pot store licenses are suing the city because it passed ordinances banning all pot related business.

Ferguson has asked the Pierce County Superior Court Judge to uphold the city ban, but also said he should strike down the city’s argument that Federal pot law also trumps I-502.

According to the Tacoma News-Tribune:

“Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed the legal brief this week as part of an effort to properly interpret I-502 and “uphold the will of the voters” in a legal dispute over Fife’s ban. It suggests that local governments have significant power over the state-regulated marijuana industry because of what Ferguson says is a “silent” loophole in state law.”

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has also been granted permission to weight in on the case, they claim I-502 overrides local authorities from banning the drug, and it pre-empts federal law.  They are the ones who helped write the law.  Some critics say they’re reacting so strongly because they refuse to admit they made a mistake by not addressing this key issue before I-502 went to voters.

At the heart of Ferguson’s argument is what he calls a “silent” loophole in the measure.  Because the language of I-502 doesn’t specifically address cities and counties passing their own bans within their city limits, Ferguson says that means it’s not “illegal” for them to do so.

When Ferguson issued a non-legally binding opinion on this matter in January,  a slew of cities and counties quickly passed permanent moratoriums or ordinances banning all growing, processing and sale of pot.    So far, Fife and Wenatchee are the only communities being sued over those bans.

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