AG Opinion: Cities and Counties Can Ban Marijuana Sales

Jan 16, 2014

Cities and counties in Washington state have the right to block the sale, processing and grow operations of marijuana within their jurisdictions. Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson released his long awaited opinion on the issue at a press conference Thursday.

Credit National Institute on Drug Abuse

Ferguson: “Initiative 502 included no clear indication that it intended to preempt local ordinances banning marijuana producers, processors and retailers. While initiative 502 creates a licensing system for these businesses, nothing in the initiative itself says that those licenses allow businesses regardless of local law," 

But a woman who helped lead the effort to pass Initiative 502 disagrees with Ferguson’s opinion.

Alison Holcomb is the ACLU’s Drug policy director.

Holcomb: “Well its directly contrary to the intent of the initiative. The whole point of initiative 502 was to bring marijuana out of the black market and to bring it under tight regulatory control. That intent was obviously recognized by the United States department of justice in making its decision to allow the states to proceed," says Holcomb.

But Holcomb says the AG’s opinion is not the last word on the matter. She says she knows of parties planning to sue Pierce County if it doesn’t reverse its marijuana ban. 

Washington Lawmakers have introduced a bill that would essentially reverse Ferguson’s opinion.

The final decision would be up to a court of law.

Copyright 2014 KUOW.