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February 19, 2015 at 11:53 AM

Church dropping out of lawsuit against Uncle Ike’s Pot Shop

Community members stand in front of Uncle Ike's Pot Shop, seen just a few feet from the Mount Calvary Christian Center at left, near 23rd Ave. and E Union St. in Seattle during a rally against Uncle Ike's on Oct. 5, 2014. (Lindsey Wasson / The Seattle Times)

Community members stand in front of Uncle Ike’s Pot Shop, seen just a few feet from the Mount Calvary Christian Center at left, near 23rd Ave. and E Union St. in Seattle during a rally against Uncle Ike’s on Oct. 5, 2014. (Lindsey Wasson / The Seattle Times)

Uncle Ike’s Pot Shop, Seattle’s second marijuana store, faces one less legal obstacle.

Bowing out of a long legal fight, Mount Calvary Christian Center filed a motion Tuesday to withdraw from a lawsuit it filed.

In the suit, the church claimed Uncle Ike’s was allowed to open despite being about 250 feet from a teen recreation center, which it believed qualified as a prohibited venue for marijuana businesses under state law. It says the city and state did not perform due diligence in allowing Uncle Ike’s to open.

The church sought a temporary restraining order against Uncle Ike’s ahead of a harvest festival it was holding for children. It also sought a preliminary injunction ahead of the full lawsuit, which is scheduled for later this year. Judges dismissed both measures.

The Rev. Reggie Witherspoon of Mt. Calvary Christian Center said the church could not fund the lawsuit any longer.

“It’s been a good amount of money and, to date, it hasn’t gotten us very far,” said Witherspoon. “I’m very disappointed in our state and city government. I strongly feel like there’s been a premium put on tax revenue and not human lives, especially as it relates to young human lives of people of color.”

Despite the church’s action, the legal fight isn’t over for Uncle Ike’s. A neighborhood organization called Respect the Central District remains part of the suit.

Lawyer Knoll Lowney, who represents the organization, said he believed his clients intended to continue to sue.

“From all I know, the answer is yes they’re still trying to pursue it, but there hasn’t been a discussion about this latest development,” said Lowney.

Witherspoon said he was disappointed the church could not continue with what he believes is a strong case. He said Uncle Ike’s sought to run up legal costs before the trial and push the church out of the suit.

Uncle Ike’s owner Ian Eisenberg called that characterization “insulting.”

“We’re not doing anything to cost them money. They’ve dragged us into court twice so far with ex parte motions and preliminary injunctions,” said Eisenberg. “We haven’t cost them money. We’ve just defended ourselves.”

Witherspoon said he would continue to fight the pot shop. He said he was considering contacting the federal government about Uncle Ike’s. Earlier this year, he testified in support of a state Senate bill that would add churches to a list of venues pot shops are prohibited from being near.

Eisenberg, who testified against the Senate bill, said he didn’t foresee the church would stop targeting his business.

“I think the fight might be going from the court system to the Legislature,” he said.

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