Churchgoers have been protesting outside Uncle Ike’s Pot Shop in the Central District for nearly a month. Now, Mount Calvary Christian Center is taking its protest to court.
The church and a community group filed suit Thursday against the owner of Uncle Ike’s Pot Shop, the city of Seattle and the Liquor Control Board in King County Superior Court.
The suit alleges that Uncle Ike’s was allowed to open despite being about 250 feet from a teen recreation center. It says the city and state did not perform due diligence in allowing Uncle Ike’s to open.
The church and community center ask the court to revoke Uncle Ike’s license and direct the city of Seattle to set up measures that would require it to let communities weigh in before potential marijuana stores are approved.
Pastor Reginald Witherspoon said the defendants have not taken the community’s concerns seriously.
“We’re at the end of the rope,” said Pastor Reggie Witherspoon. “I have had several conversations with the Liquor Control Board. I’ve met in Mayor’s Office personally. I’ve talked to the owenr of Uncle Ike’s. We’ve filed a complaint about the city land use. We’re getting the run around.”
Uncle Ike’s owner Ian Eisenberg said he thought the suit was a “publicity stunt.” He said he told the church of his plans to open a recreational marijuana store and has a “clear conscience” about his dealings with the church.
“I followed the laws. I followed the city and state guidelines. I didn’t have any problems with the Department of Planning and Development. We did everything by the book,” he said.
Eisenberg said he’s frustrated with the community arguments that, “I-502 (the initiative that legalized marijuana) is bad and my shop is bad because it puts corner drug dealers out of work and it’s gentrifying. It makes we want to barf. The whole point is to turn out drug dealers. They sell to kids, we won’t.”
He said protests weren’t slowing business. “Our signage isn’t up,” Eisenberg said. “It’s letting people know where we are. It’s a symbiotic relationship. It helps our business. It helps their business. Everybody needs a cause.”
The state’s Liquor Control Board rules disallow stores “within 1000 feet of any elementary or secondary school, playground, recreation center or facility, child care center, public park, public transit center, library, or game arcade that allows minors to enter,” according to an FAQ on its website. The church believes its teen center qualifies as a recreation center.
Eisenberg said that the teen center is rarely used. “I’ve been here for 4 or 5 year and I walk by it 10 times a day … I’ve seen kids play basketball there four or five times.”