Two counties in Washington State can prohibit cannabis businesses, just not for the reasons they have stated.
That’s the position of the state’s attorney general, who is looking to get involved in lawsuits tied to the bans.
The lawsuits challenge moves by Wentachee and Fife counties to bar recreational cannabis businesses on the basis that marijuana is illegal federally.
The state’s attorney general, Bob Ferguson, has asked the courts that his office be allowed to intervene in the lawsuits.
If permitted, Washington officials would reportedly back the general legality of bans, saying that I-502 – the state law allowing recreational sales of cannabis products to adults – allows municipalities to take such actions.
However, they would also argue that linking a ban to the federal prohibition of marijuana is not a permissible reason under state law.
Washington leaders worry that a court ruling in favor of federal laws over the state’s marijuana legislation would undermine I-502 and have many unintended consequences.
Chicago will allow medical marijuana dispensaries in commercial and business districts – including popular tourist and shopping destinations – but bar them from setting up shop in other areas.
The city council’s zoning committee passed rules this week that define where the 13 dispensaries and lone cultivation site allowed in Chicago can locate.
Under the ordinance, dispensaries must get a special-use permit to operate.
As part of that process, each applicant group will be subject to a public hearing before zoning officials, where residents can voice opposition to the plans.
Dispensaries can locate in many popular commercial neighborhoods, such as River North and West Loop, but not in manufacturing areas, transportation corridors or mixed-use buildings where residents live.
The dispensaries will have to meet state restrictions as well, including a provision that they can’t locate within 1,000 feet of a school or day care facility.
The city’s rules, however, are much lighter than another plan that would have pushed dispensaries away from the downtown core and into manufacturing areas on the fringes of the city.
Aside from the dispensaries, Cook County – which contains Chicago – is allowed a single cultivation center.
If that center locates in Chicago, it would only be allowed to operate in manufacturing districts under the city’s rules. It also would have to find space at least 2,500 feet away from schools and residential buildings.
Entrepreneurs looking to enter Illinois’ medical marijuana industry could get help with one of the biggest issues facing cannabis startups: funding.Prairie Wellness Fund Ltd. announced it is hoping to raise as much as $100 million dollars to provide fledgling marijuana companies in Illinois with letters of credit and loans to help them qualify for business licenses and gear up operations.The move opens more doors for wealthy individuals and investors who want to get involved as well.The state will allow 21 dispensaries to operate, each of which faces significant expenses for real estate, buildouts and starting inventory – on top of a $2 million surety bond and $500,000 in working capital demanded by the licensing authorities. The locations are expected to begin operating in spring 2015.The debt market for financing cannabis companies is especially lucrative, and its perceived risk is lessening as the government backs off the industry.Executives at Prarie Wellness said that loans extended would likely carry interest rates similar to credit cards, as repayment would be tied only to the personal guarantee of the individual borrowing the funds.The fund is expected to officially begin soliciting investors in September.