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Second Superior Court Ruling Upholds City Pot Ban, and Other Pot News


October 22, 2014 by Bob Meinig
Category: Court Decisions and AGO Opinions , Marijuana

Second Superior Court Ruling Upholds City Pot Ban, and Other Pot News

A Chelan County Superior Court judge issued a ruling last week that upheld the City of Wenatchee’s moratorium on the issuance of permits for the production and sale of marijuana and its business licensing provision, as applied to marijuana businesses, that licenses may not be issued for activities that are unlawful under federal law. This ruling follows on the heels of a similar ruling in August by the Pierce County Superior Court upholding the City of Fife’s ban on marijuana businesses. See Superior Court Decision on Fife Pot Ban.

As in the Pierce County decision, the Chelan County judge did not address the issue of whether federal law that criminalizes marijuana preempts Washington State law that legalizes it. And, according to the Attorney General’s press release, both courts agreed with its opinion on the validity of Initiative 502. The Attorney General intervened in both cases, supporting the authority of cities to ban marijuana businesses.

This is not, of course, the end of the story. The plaintiffs in the Fife case have appealed that decision directly to the state Supreme Court, though the court has yet to decide whether it will review the case. And, the plaintiffs in the Wenatchee case may do the same or may file an appeal with the state Court of Appeals. So, it is quite likely that, at some future time, the state Supreme Court will address the authority of local governments (cities and counties) to prohibit marijuana businesses that were legalized by Initiative 502.

To our knowledge, there currently are (as of the date of this post) 40 cities and 3 counties that have prohibited marijuana businesses, and 73 cities and 10 counties that have moratoriums in place. See our interactive map of Recreational Marijuana Ordinances across Washington.

On the regulatory front, the Liquor Control Board has proposed amendments to its regulations governing recreational marijuana licensing.

And, as always, keep up-to-date on what is happening in the world of recreational marijuana in Washington State through our webpage, Recreational Marijuana: A Guide for Local Governments.

Photo courtesy of Rusty Blazenhoff.


MRSC is a private nonprofit organization serving local governments in Washington State. Eligible government agencies in Washington State may use our free, one-on-one Ask MRSC service to get answers to legal, policy, or financial questions.

About Bob Meinig

Bob has written extensively on the state Open Public Meetings Act and on municipal incorporation and annexation. At MRSC, he has also advised local governments for over 25 years on diverse legal issues.

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