The Chehalis City Council recently decided to open a vote on a law that would prohibit the sale of medical and recreational marijuana in the city boundaries. Although medical marijuana use was legalized in the state in 1998, the sudden approval of the sale of marijuana for recreational and medical purposes back in 2012 has council members from various cities in an uproar. These officials are concerned that recreational sale of marijuana will lead to uncontrolled distribution of the drug, and promote disorderly conduct among local youth. Even officials that believe that their citizens can handle marijuana responsibly are concerned that the disputes between the banks and Drug Enforcement Agency and Department of Justice will lead to lawsuits involving the incipient Marijuana businesses.
Ironically, opposition to marijuana sales from city officials in Fife and Wenatchee has engendered lawsuits from prospective business owners already. Washington State Attorney General, Bob Ferguson, made a statement last month about two lawsuits that required the intervention of his office. He commented that although he refuses to defend the businesses or the cities, he believes that the state legislature should allow for city councils to overturn laws that legalize the sale and possession of marijuana within city boundaries.
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State officials in Washington thankfully do not share Ferguson’s views, and expressed that no city should be allowed to ban legitimate marijuana businesses from opening in Washington. Business owners that are hoping to open their doors to customers with insomnia, neuropathic pain, epilepsy and multiple sclerosis in cities that wish to keep the drug out should expect to receive appeals from higher circuit courts from time to time. However, the umbrage will continue until the FDA removes marijuana from its current Schedule I classification, which could take many years, even if research on all of the more than 400 compounds that the plant contains were approved tomorrow.
The Chehalis City Council concluded voting last week on the proposed ban, which did not pass. Business owners prevail, for now, but the reactions to marijuana business in other cities is still not wholly favorable. The Washington Attorney General’s Office expects to be hearing many more lawsuits from marijuana business owners in the near future.