The Marijuana Policy Initiative

Prevent Don't Promote Drug Use–Do You Want More Marijuana in Your Community or Less?

A volunteer non-partisan coalition of people from across the US and Canada who have come to understand the negative local-to-global public health and safety implications of an organized, legal, freely-traded, commercialized and industrialized marijuana market.

City Defends Marijuana Dispensary Ban

City defends right to ban marijuana

The city of Fife, Washington is defending its ban on pot dispensaries. The stakes are very high.

28 cities and two counties in Washington have banned the sale of retail pot, and many others have enacted moratoriums.

The litigating dispensary owner is suing to overturn the ban. Let’s hope that the judge makes the right decision by upholding Fife’s right to keep the dispensary from opening.

No-Pot City Takes Aim at Washington Marijuana Law

To Tedd Wetherbee, the vacant storefront seems a suitable spot for selling pot. It’s in a strip mall across from BJ’s Bingo parlor, in a long commercial stretch occupied by fast-food joints, dry cleaners and massage parlors.

But like dozens of other cities in Washington, the small Tacoma suburb of Fife doesn’t want Wetherbee — or anyone else — opening marijuana businesses, even if state law allows it. The arguments officials are making in a lawsuit over the dispute threaten to derail Washington’s big experiment in legal, taxed cannabis less than two months after sales began.

A Pierce County judge on Friday is scheduled to hear arguments on two key issues at the core of Wetherbee’s legal challenge to the ban. The first is whether Washington’s voter-approved marijuana measure, Initiative 502, leaves room for cities to ban licensed pot growers, processors or sellers. If the answer is no, Fife wants the judge to address a second question: Should Washington’s entire legal marijuana scheme be thrown out as incompatible with the federal prohibition on pot?

“It’s challenging the state’s ability to create a legal and controlled market,” said Alison Holcomb, the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington lawyer who drafted the law. “They’re saying, ‘We’ll just take the entire regulatory system down.’ ”

Washington’s experiment is built around the notion that it can bring pot out of the black market and into a regulated system that better protects public health and safety than prohibition ever did. In reality, there won’t be legal marijuana businesses in much of the state: 28 cities and two counties have banned them, and scores more have issued long-running moratoriums preventing them from opening while officials review zoning and other issues.

In Fife, a community of 5 square miles and fewer than 10,000 people, the planning commission spent months working on a plan that would have allowed state-licensed marijuana businesses in the commercial zone where Wetherbee wants to open his shop. But the City Council this summer amended it to ban the businesses.

Council members expressed concern about the number of pot sellers who might open in Fife, uncertainty about the impact that would have on the community or police resources, and objections that the law doesn’t direct any marijuana taxes back to the cities.

I-502 won 53 percent of the vote in Fife, and there’s little reason to think legal pot businesses have a greater impact on a community than the black-market marijuana trade. Fife’s ordinance directed the planning commission to review any data collected on the topic, leaving open the possibility it could reconsider.

Wetherbee says he’s been paying almost $3,000 in monthly rent on the storefront. He finally sued in Pierce County Superior Court, challenging Fife’s zoning authority and the way the ban was adopted. “State law says I get to do business, and they’re not letting us,” he said.

The lawsuit has attracted a lot of attention, with the state, the ACLU chapter and other counties and towns filing briefs. The ACLU says that while Washington’s liquor laws allow towns to ban alcohol sales, the pot low contains no such opt-out provision.

Cities can create zones for marijuana establishments, but they can’t ban them, Holcomb said. If they could, it would undermine the will of Washington’s voters in taking control of the black market.

http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/pot-city-takes-aim-washington-marijuana-law-2516492 of Fife defends its dispensary ban

Drug legalization invites litigation – often at the expense of cities and counties.

The city of Fife, Washington is defending its ban on pot dispensaries. The stakes are very high.

28 cities and two counties in Washington have banned the sale of retail pot, and many others have enacted moratoriums.

The litigating dispensary owner is suing to overturn the ban. Let’s hope that the judge makes the right decision by upholding Fife’s right to keep the dispensary from opening.

No-Pot City Takes Aim at Washington Marijuana Law

To Tedd Wetherbee, the vacant storefront seems a suitable spot for selling pot. It’s in a strip mall across from BJ’s Bingo parlor, in a long commercial stretch occupied by fast-food joints, dry cleaners and massage parlors.

But like dozens of other cities in Washington, the small Tacoma suburb of Fife doesn’t want Wetherbee — or anyone else — opening marijuana businesses, even if state law allows it. The arguments officials are making in a lawsuit over the dispute threaten to derail Washington’s big experiment in legal, taxed cannabis less than two months after sales began.

A Pierce County judge on Friday is scheduled to hear arguments on two key issues at the core of Wetherbee’s legal challenge to the ban. The first is whether Washington’s voter-approved marijuana measure, Initiative 502, leaves room for cities to ban licensed pot growers, processors or sellers. If the answer is no, Fife wants the judge to address a second question: Should Washington’s entire legal marijuana scheme be thrown out as incompatible with the federal prohibition on pot?

“It’s challenging the state’s ability to create a legal and controlled market,” said Alison Holcomb, the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington lawyer who drafted the law. “They’re saying, ‘We’ll just take the entire regulatory system down.’ ”

Washington’s experiment is built around the notion that it can bring pot out of the black market and into a regulated system that better protects public health and safety than prohibition ever did. In reality, there won’t be legal marijuana businesses in much of the state: 28 cities and two counties have banned them, and scores more have issued long-running moratoriums preventing them from opening while officials review zoning and other issues.

In Fife, a community of 5 square miles and fewer than 10,000 people, the planning commission spent months working on a plan that would have allowed state-licensed marijuana businesses in the commercial zone where Wetherbee wants to open his shop. But the City Council this summer amended it to ban the businesses.

Council members expressed concern about the number of pot sellers who might open in Fife, uncertainty about the impact that would have on the community or police resources, and objections that the law doesn’t direct any marijuana taxes back to the cities.

I-502 won 53 percent of the vote in Fife, and there’s little reason to think legal pot businesses have a greater impact on a community than the black-market marijuana trade. Fife’s ordinance directed the planning commission to review any data collected on the topic, leaving open the possibility it could reconsider.

Wetherbee says he’s been paying almost $3,000 in monthly rent on the storefront. He finally sued in Pierce County Superior Court, challenging Fife’s zoning authority and the way the ban was adopted. “State law says I get to do business, and they’re not letting us,” he said.

The lawsuit has attracted a lot of attention, with the state, the ACLU chapter and other counties and towns filing briefs. The ACLU says that while Washington’s liquor laws allow towns to ban alcohol sales, the pot low contains no such opt-out provision.

Cities can create zones for marijuana establishments, but they can’t ban them, Holcomb said. If they could, it would undermine the will of Washington’s voters in taking control of the black market.

http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/pot-city-takes-aim-washington-marijuana-law-2516492