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Seattle Times coverage of pot policy, culture and lifestyle.

July 31, 2014 at 4:04 PM

State Attorney General to join pot lawsuits against Wenatchee, Fife

State Attorney General Bob Ferguson will intervene in three pot lawsuits against the cities of Wenatchee and Fife, according to a news release from his office.  Both cities have imposed laws that essentially ban recreational pot businesses legalized statewide when voters passed Initiative 502.

Ferguson will enter the lawsuits “to defend Initiative 502, not to support the plaintiffs’ or cities’ positions,” according to the news release.

“As Attorney General, my job is to make sure the will of the people is upheld,” said Ferguson.

In January, Ferguson said in a nonbinding opinion that cities and counties could ban pot businesses.

In Wenatchee, city officials adopted a policy that says applicants must comply with federal law to get a business license. Because federal law prohibits marijuana, that effectively bans pot businesses.

In an effort to avoid a legal battle over whether federal law trumps state pot regulation, Wenatchee chose to rely on Ferguson’s January opinion on state preemption in crafting its argument against a pot business.

Now it appears Ferguson will argue that position himself.

Alison Holcomb, architect of Initiative 502, disagrees with Ferguson’s stance  on whether cities and counties can ban pot businesses. She said it was “curious” that he would take an interest in these cases.

“The AG has already issued an informal opinion that provided his analysis of the state preemption issue,” said Holcomb.

“It’s not clear at all why the Attorney General feels it’s important to intervene and argue that opinion himself.”

Holcomb said the ACLU is weighing whether or not it would submit an amicus brief on state preemption.

Comments | More in News | Topics: attorney general, bob ferguson, wenatchee lawsuit

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