WA superior court judges rule that local governments can ban marijuana businesses
On December 4, 2014, a fourth superior court judge concluded that nothing in Initiative 502 overrides local governments’ authority to regulate or ban marijuana businesses. Every court to consider this issue has now agreed.
This most recent ruling came from Cowlitz County Superior Court Judge Michael Evans in the case of Emerald Enterprises LLC & John M Larson v. Clark County. 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 WA Attorney General's Office in January 2014 concluded that, as drafted, I-502 does not prevent cities and counties from banning marijuana businesses.
Judge Evans is now the fourth judge to agree with the AGO opinion that nothing in Initiative 502 overrides local governments’ authority to regulate or ban 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 in a similar case involving the City of Wenatchee and Pierce County Superior Court Judge Ronald Culpepper’s ruling in August in a similar case involving the City of Fife. If courts continue to agree with the AGO opinion 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. This allows I-502 to continue to be implemented.
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The mission of the Washington Association for Substance Abuse and Violence Prevention (WASAVP) is to unite prevention advocates in Washington State in order to create environments that support safe and healthy communities through prevention of substance abuse and violence.