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Attorney General says that cities can ban marijuana

January 16, 2014

Following the introduction of a bill by 10 representatives that would prohibit cities from limiting marijuana business, the Attorney General says that they can go further if they want.

In response to a request from Sharon Foster, chair of the Washington State Liquor Control Board, the Attorney General’s Office released a formal Attorney General’s Opinion regarding local ordinances affecting new marijuana businesses in Washington.

The formal opinion concludes I-502 as drafted and presented to the voters does not prevent local governments from regulating or banning marijuana businesses in their jurisdictions.

The opinion states:

“Under Washington law, there is a strong presumption against finding that state law preempts local ordinances. Although Initiative 502 establishes a licensing and regulatory system for marijuana producers, processors, and retailers in Washington State, it includes no clear indication that it was intended to preempt local authority to regulate such businesses. We therefore conclude that I-502 left in place the normal powers of local governments to regulate within their jurisdictions.”

While I-502’s drafters could have structured I-502 to require local governments to accept marijuana businesses, they did not do so. If the Legislature wants to change that, it can amend the law.

Attorney General Opinions are issued only at the request of members of the state legislature, statewide elected officials, appointed heads of state agencies, boards and commissions and county prosecuting attorneys.

Formal Attorney General’s Opinions are statements of the Attorney General’s official views on legal questions relating to the duties of a public officer. They are not binding on the courts.

Many local jurisdictions have banned or prohibited marijuana business throughout Grays Harbor.


Categories: Harbor News
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